Young Belizean Sailors Compete in Bermuda's 2016
National Optimist Dinghy Championship Regatta
"They were the best in the World, pops."
Interviewer: "Better than in Canada, this summer?"
(He'd placed 7 out of 127 up there.}
These are the words of San Pedro's Kevin Velasquez, age 15 and Belize's 2015 Optimist Sailing Dinghy National Champion, after placing 25th out of 75 in the 2016 Bermuda National Championship Optimist Regatta, November 10 - 13 at the Royal Naval Dockyard in Bermuda. Perhaps they weren't all of the World's best, but among the 75 were sailors visiting from Barbados, Canada, The Caymans, Italy, Poland, and the US. Staying in the top third of that fleet and finishing 10th, 12th, and 13th in 3 of the 11 races, are what Kevin accomplished in the final regatta of his Optimist career. The year you turn 15 is the last year you can enter formal Optimist regattas.
San Pedro's Caroline Sersland is only 12 and has 3 more years to test herself internationally. She kept herself out of the bottom third, finishing 50th, and for her age, that is quite promising. She is pictured below splitting tacks with Bermuda's Cole Summerset, whom she did indeed outmaneuver in this race and in the regatta.
Kevin and Caroline both train at the Belize Sailing Center , which is on the beach at Caribbean Villas in San Pedro. Among the thrills Kevin and Caroline got to experience in Bermuda was visiting SoftBank Team Japan's America's Cup World Series 45-ft. catamaran (pictured below). They did not get to go on board Oracle, (pictured below cruising behind the Optimist fleet), but Team Japan is known to especially enjoy and value children and conducts middle-school educational programs in Bermuda (http://softbank-team-japan.americascup.com/en/news/298_AN-AMERICA-S-CUP-CLASSROOM.html.)
The overall winners in this regatta were US sailors, who took the first 9 positions. The Polish National Champion who trained with our contingent grabbed the 10th spot, followed by another US sailor. Azhai Smith, in 12th, finished highest among the sailors of Bermuda, to become the new Bermuda National Champion.
Click here for the entire results.
Caroline Sersland dueling a Bermudan
SoftBank Team Japan's AC-45
Oracle AC-45 sailing among the Optimist fleet