Placencia Hosts The Second Regatta of BzSA's 2015 Optimist Dinghy Ranking Series

On Saturday, May 23 and Sunday, May 24, 2015, The Placencia Sailing Club's six sailors and their supporters treated 15 sailors from 5 other clubs and their retinues to Placencia's 3rd Annual Optimist Regatta. The quests' consensus is that Placencia always provides great hospitality and excellently managed regattas, and this was no exception. One reason is that Commodore Alvin Cabral Jr., his wife Maria, and the rest of the club, garner sponsorship and assistance from the Placencia Village Council and no less than 53 businesses and citizens of the community. As BzSA sailors move beyond home waters to international events, such broad support for sailing will become increasingly vital.

Placencia is an entertaining and unique sailing venue. High winds and big waves challenge sailors off the long sweep of beach to the east, where Saturday's 4 races were held. It is tough on equipment and the Did Not Finish (DNFs) and Did Not Start (DNSs) in the results chart testifies to that. The winds had grown progressively in strength and gustiness up to 15-20 knots throughout Saturday afternoon. Commodore Cabral thought seriously about abandoning the day's 4th race. There had been only one capsize all day, though; so he said 'Sail on!' and he was right.

Yes, It is tough for lighter weight sailors to maintain their boats' best racing trim and balance in such conditions. Some features of the results of Saturday's 4 races seemed to suggest that weight advantage was in play. Sunday's racing, though, tends to deemphasize that.

On Sunday, the easterlies were even fiercer than the day before. Commodore Cabral decided to move the course to Placencia's south shore harbor under the lee of 150-meter-long Placencia Caye, off the town's southern shore. Some of the harbor, then, is highly protected, and much flatter than Saturday's venue. The challenges here are wind shifts. The land, the caye, and the 100+ meter gap between them alter both the direction and the speed of winds passing through various parts of the course. The key to success is avoiding where wind slacks off and quickly picking up capricious wind shifts to use to one's advantage. In testimony to their understanding of conditions and their boat handling skills, the same sailors who prevailed on Saturday finished on top on Sunday as well.

Trent Hardwick, 12, of Belize Sea Scoutís, had three 1st place finishes on Saturday, and on Sunday he finished with a 3rd and a 2nd, and took home the regatta trophy. Earlier this year, Trent won an invitation to represent Belize at the 2015 North American Optimist Championship Regatta (OPTINAM) July 5-12 on the island of Antigua, West Indies.

Antonio Ricardez, 14, of Belize City, took 2nd Place by winning the last 2 races on Sunday, a performance indicative of both skill and endurance. He bested his sister, Nashira, 13, who placed 3rd. In April, Nashira had won an invitation to OPTINAM, and Belize is sending Antonio to Antigua for the International Sailing Federation's week-long Laser class training clinic, which begins the day after OPTINAM concludes. Optimist sailors "graduate" into bigger boats, including Olympic class Lasers. Antonio can currently sail both classes.

Caye Caulker's Harrison Cadle, Jr., 13, took 4th Place. 5th Place went to San Pedro's Kevin Velasquez, 13, who, via a tie-breaker, narrow escaped defeat at the hands of Corozal's Jazmin Campos, who came in 6th. Both Kevin and Jazmin had also won OPTINAM invitations. 7th Place went to Peter Joo, 12, PLJ, 8th Place to Ronald Bo,13, Caye Caulker, 9th Place to Anhel Mo 13, Caye Caulker and 10th Place to Christian Lopez, 13 from San Pedro.

BzSA will conduct three (3) more "ranking" regattas this year as follows:

I. St. George's Caye, Aug. 29 -30, hosted by Belize City Sailing Club.
II. Caye Caulker, Oct. 10-11, hosted by Caye Caulker Sailing Club.
III. National Championship. Nov. 14-15, hosted by Corozal Bay Sailing Club.

The sailors who perform the best in the 5-regatta series stand to win some coveted 2015 Belize National Sailor of the Year awards.

BzSA intends to inaugurate a drive to secure an annual budget to support its ability to become a regular member of the international sailing community, not just some occasional, flustered, drop-in. The benefit to a small nation, the return on investment, has been experienced by others. In this endeavor, BzSA will seek the sort of broad and enthusiastic national support that the Placencia Sailing Club has in its home community.

2015 Placencia Regatta Results Chart

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Assembling for the start

Race just underway

Windward panorama

Heading into windshifts

Trent receiving trophy