2001 Sunfish Worlds report

By Cindy CLifton

My first view of the “beach” from Sunsail Club Colonna at Hodges Bay (Antigua) was on a June evening when Jean and I arrived to get things organized for the Worlds. Beautiful evening stars, more than we are used to in most urban areas of the states, a lapping surf and waving palm branches in the moonlight met my eyes. The early morning view was just as good, with a gentle breeze blowing and a few Sunsail guests already trying out the Picos. Leaving, a few days later, we knew that Sunsail would be the perfect place for a great World Championship.

Aware that only 47 boats would be available, we made plans for a qualifier. Sunsail would only accommodate our boats up to a point, as they would also have many other guests sharing their limited beach. The sailing would have to take place over 6 days, rather than the usual 5 and there was the possibility that the unusual tropical weather that had chased us in recent world championships might follow us again.

However, we knew the sailing area would make for great racing, the resort would be terrific fun for family members and Antigua would go all out in their welcome. The opening Ceremony included a warm welcome from Antigua Prime Minister Lester Bird and with flags and anthems, the week began! As expected, everyone enjoyed the huge pool and after sailing swim, the very well stocked bar on the beach and the food, which smacked of tropical/English fare if you can imagine the combination!

Prime Minister Lester Bird and Sunsail Manager George Clarke

Trying out all the Sunsail boats including Hobie, Pica, Laser, and Sport, as well as windsurfing, scuba diving, snorkeling, sightseeing and just plain boating occupied everyone on their days off.

Six qualifying races with varying wind conditions made it tough to make the Gold Fleet in the 31st World Championship in Antigua in October 2001. Light to extremely heavy winds over the two day period made it frustrating for many. Kathy Remmer was the only female to make the cut, and several of the younger sailors were sent to the Silver Fleet when winds went over 25 knots during a scary “Whiteout”! Sharing and switching boats made it a bit exciting on the beach but the sailors managed it good naturally and the two days finished with 47 sailors in the Gold Fleet and 34 in the Silver Fleet.

Wind, Day 1 of Silver Fleet racing, was lighter than the two previous qualifying days and 18 year old Carlos Uztariz won all three races, followed closely by 18 year old Mexican newcomer Ralph Nelles. Americans Stevie Evans and Anne Swan posted 3rd’s and Jorge Samitier from Curacao squeezed in a 2nd. Their next day was a bit windier and Ralph got in the groove, finishing with two firsts and a second. Uztariz however got two seconds and a third, throwing out a 3rd to beat Ralph in the end by 3 points. American Bill Betts, also 18, was consistent in his finishes and closed in on 3rd, just ahead of USSCA president Vic Manning and Jorge Samitier. Eight races in the Gold Fleet over two days made for a tired group of sailors and race committee.

Somewhat fluky during the end of day two, the winds overall were medium to heavy and oscillating back and forth from the northeast Five time World Champ Eduardo Cordero put on a clinic, winning 6 and throwing out a 10. Local favorite, Carl James (the 2001 Caribbean Laser Champion) was consistent, and finished second, just ahead of Eduardo Gonzalez, Cordero’s sparring partner. Taking third, Luis Olcese, from Peru, won the last race, a fluky, light air contest, fighting off James, Cordero and Tom Whitehurst in a close finish. Ash Beatty and David Loring challenged the fleet as well, with Ash finishing ‘with one 2nd and three 3rds. An “over early” in race 3 hurt him down the road, but he had very respectable finishes.

Lee Parks

The courses were predominately windward-leeward with a leeward gate, expertly set up by Race Chairman, Tom Duggan and helped by visiting volunteers, off duty racers and Sunsail beach studs. From the vantage point of the gate, a plethora of excellent sailors from 11 countries put on a great show and the sight was something else!

Above: Back Row 1-r: Tom Whitehurst, 7th; Ash Beatty, 6th; Luis Olcese,
4th; Eduardo Gonzales, 3rd; David Loring, 5th; John Kolius, 8th & First Master. Front, 1-r: Gonzales Barclay,
9th & First Junior; Eduardo Cordero, 1st & Malcolm Smith, 10th.

Sailors, particularly Stevie Evans of Delaware, and Tim Pitts of the USVI tried various ways to hold a beer chugging contest, with most of the beer ending up on the floor. Even Anne Patin got in the act, waking with a very hoarse voice, from cheering them on. Umbrella drinks, the Bamboo, and the usual Sunfish pranks occupied us through the week, a perfect backdrop for great racing and vacationing.

Many, many thanks to Antigua Yacht Club, Carl James, Wendy Harris and to George Clark for setting us up with RC gear, water, customs and more, and to Ted Cremer for bringing an extra set of flags. Thanks to Robbie Ferrin of St. Martin for arranging his boat for the committee; Kathy Remmer, Linda Tillman, Roberta Parlee for running registration and to Lee Parks for loaning her computer and room for scorekeeping.

In addition to the race winners, special trophies were awarded to:

Youngest sailor
Top MasterJohn Kolius (KSA)
Top WomanKathy Remmer (USA)
Top YouthGonzales Barclay (PER)
Marco Polo Award
Sportsmanship award
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