‘Optimisitic’ young sailors excel in Bahamas

| 11/10/2011

(CISC): Four members of the Cayman Youth sailing Team recently travelled to the Bahamas to take part in the Bahamas National Optimist Championships. The team have been sailing Optimists for less than a year and are used to racing against just a handful of others. Coach Raph Harvey felt that they had been training hard and the time was right to test them against the more rigorous challenges posed by an overseas regatta. “There is a huge difference between racing against six other people that you know well, and starting a race with 80 other boats that are unknown to you”.

The Optimist sailing dinghy is one of the most popular one-design sailboats for youth sailors in the world and is ideal for both novice and experienced sailors up to the ages of 16.

The Bahamas National Optimist Championships is the most anticipated event on the Bahamas Sailing Association calendar. The regatta was hosted by the Grand Bahama Yacht Club in Freeport, Grand Bahama on the 1st and 2nd of October 2011. Seventy six sailors came from Grand Bahama, Abaco, Eleuthera, Nassau, Long Island, Florida and UK. The sailors were divided into two fleets, Championship (experienced sailors) and Green (sailors who have been sailing for less than a year).

In the Championship fleet from Cayman were: Florence Allan and Pablo Bertran who sailed in the red fleet (age 13 to 15). Florence sailed fantastically well to come 5th overall, 3rd in her age range and top girl overall. Pablo sailed a consistent regatta finishing 11th in his fleet and 17th overall. Allena Rankine sailed in the younger division, the blue fleet, and took 5th spot and 2nd girl overall.

Finley McDougall who has only been sailing fora year was placed in the Green fleet. He quickly established his dominance and sailed extremely well taking 1st place.

The conditions were light and very shifty on both days. Winds ranged from 4 – 9 knots and medium chop. Races were generally 40 – 45 minutes long and required a lot of patience from the kids.

Coach Raph Harvey was thrilled with all the results and said, “For our sailors to take 5th, 9th and 17th out of 34 sailors in a national championship was much better than we had ever hoped and for Finley to take 1st place out of the 45 sailors in Green fleet is just outstanding. I think Finley was able to excel because he has a never give-up attitude and is never put off by not winning. He learns more every time he goes out on the water”. Bahamas sailing legend Jimmy Lowe also commented on Finley, “It’s the first time I’ve seen the lad but he already is showing the potential to do what it takes to go far in this sport of ours”. Praise indeed from the usually taciturn Mr Lowe.

Cayman Islands Sailing Club Manager, Rick Caley was equally thrilled and said, “Raph has done a brilliant job of moulding these sailors. They train for six hours on Saturdays and then come down to the club after school nearly every day to practise. Raph highlights the need to work hard but also to have fun and play fair. The parents are also very supportive and it was great to see Sarah McDougall and Elaine Ward accompanying Raph and the team to Freeport as chaperones.”

In summary, Coach Raph outlined what lies ahead for these young sailors, “Now that the kids have had a chance to measure their sailing against some other sailors and prove to themselves that they can compete with the best, we will be able to intensify our training for the next five months in preparation for the upcoming Western Caribbean Optimist Championship to be held in Grand Cayman in March 2012 as part of Race Cayman. I have to say a big thank you to all who have supported the programme not least Coaches Kelvin Browne and Becca Calvert, all at the Cayman Islands Sailing Club, the parents of our Optimist sailors and Richard Flowers who helped us build the fleet”.

Overall results


                    R1 R2 R3 R4 R5 R6 R7 Position Fleet
Florence                       7    5    3    11  7   6 –  18  5th            3rd                  1st Girl
Allena                          10 -16   9    10 6  12      6 9th             5th                   2nd Girl
Pablo                          12    12 26    21 1 13    13 17th         11th
Finley                            2      3   8     3    3 1      1   1st            1st


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