No one could have asked for a more perfect day in beautiful Bonaire for the final day’s races. Glorious sunshine, perfect 9-15 winds, steady southeasterly direction and a fleet of eager competitors excited to test their skills on this final day of racing.
Simon Gomez Ortiz of Colombia Retains Sunfish Youth World Championship Title
Simon Gomez Ortiz of Colombia just couldn’t be beat. And, if you watch him closely, you’ll understand why. Simon has a pre-race routine similar to what college basketball players have when shooting free throws. Basketball players keep the number of bounces the same; the same nod to the heavens or touching of a shoulder and then it’s OK to shoot the free throw. Simon first sails close to the committee boat’s port side and luffs head to wind. Then he beats for a few boat lengths, turns around and comes back behind the committee boat. This time he sails up to the start line and reaches down toward the pin end for a few boat lengths until he gets the information he needs. That’s how champions are made. And Simon is certainly the truest of champions!
Simon said he loved sailing here and being in Bonaire, and he liked the winds even better this event. He continued to say the winds weren’t as shifty as they were in the World Championship last week. All this was said with a huge smile on his face, a winner’s smile for sure!
Ortiz dominated the 20-boat Youth Championship. In the eight of nine races sailed, the 18-year-old won five, had two seconds and his worst scored race was a fifth. His 14-point total was miles ahead of the 27-point second-place finisher or the 38 points for third.
The Top Female competitor and second place finisher overall was Fernanda San Roman of Peru. Her two races today, a 2nd and 4th, might’ve been enough to catch a leader who wasn’t so many points ahead from Day’s 1 and 2 results. But Simon kept that gap large enough with consistent top finishes throughout the event to make it quite difficult to catch up. Fernanda displayed excellent sailing skills and tactics and is a champion to watch for in every regatta she sails.
And placing third was Diego Castro of Guatemala who must’ve developed his sailing skills and tactics from practicing with and sailing against teammate, David Hernandez, who was this year’s Sunfish World Champion. Diego had such determination on his face each time he sailed by the committee boat. Total concentration!
Another champion to watch in the future for is fourth place finisher Fernanda Higueras of Peru. The Peruvians continue to train excellent sailors who do so well in every regatta. Fernanda is proof of that! She even tried her hand at windsurfing when everyone spent a day at Gybe City, and, of course, she nearly mastered that within a few minutes!
The youth sailor from Curacao, Darius Berenos, was the fifth place finisher and sailed well in waters not too far from home. But Darius could sail well anywhere!
All in all, this was one of the best Youth World Championships ever. With competitors from far and near, on a beautiful island with some challenging winds to mix with the steady winds, every sailing skill was tested. Well, maybe not the heavy air skills. Not this time anyway!
Sunfish Masters World Champion is Alex Zimmerman of Peru…unquestionably!
Whoosh … and Alex Zimmerman was gone! Sailing fast and smart each race, Alex was hard to catch. Having organized a Sunfish World Championship sailed in Paracas, Peru, a few years ago, Alex’s capabilities extend far beyond the racecourse. So fellow competitors have learned that he’s good at what everything he does! Zimmerman was in a class by himself among the Masters winning five of his nine scored races complimented by two seconds and a third for 12 points.
A local sailor, Sipke Stapert of Bonaire, was the second place finisher with 26 points. Many times, he could be seen on shore sharing tactics with other competitors; but, then, maybe he was also telling them about the huge fish he just caught … Sun”fish,” of course!
In third was Jason Pigot of the USA/Oregon (33 points) who took to the Sunfish like fish to water (pun intended)! We thought his first Sunfish regatta ever was in the Midwest Regionals in Michigan a couple of months ago. But perhaps he’s been secretly practicing!
No regatta in Bonaire is complete without someone from Curacao placing with the top finishers! And Hans van der Gulik didn’t disappoint us losing a tiebreaker for third with Pigot!
But not to let Curacao take all the glory, Ramon -Yellow Man- Martis of Bonaire joined the top finishers with a fifth overall with 48 points. Now both islands have Sunfish sailors to brag about!
Actually, every Sunfish sailor is worth bragging about. They rigged brand new boats and then had to take them apart piece by piece and this was all after they had been sailing out in the hot sun for hours every day. Then there was their internal tension and pressure of doing better or wishing they had done better. Sailing in a World Championship is not as simple as it looks!
And organizing one and getting a top-notch Race Committee and International Judges to come out every day is a HUGE undertaking. In Bonaire, they made it look easy! An awesome undertaking!
And with a dedicated and hardworking group of volunteers to organize an event of this size under the guidance of Pam Teitel, Ton Nuijten and Elisabeth Vos, success was the perfect outcome.
A very loud Thank You goes to Laser Performance who shipped the new boats here purposely for this event. And also sent Coco Solsvig to handle everything needed regarding the boats and equipment. A huge thank you! A special thank you to Captain John W. Davis who graciously loaned his boat to be used as the Signal boat and who also helped raised flags, hoist anchors and always asked if we needed anything to drink or snack on during the day. Such a gentleman!
And there’s always the wonderful and dedicated International Judge’s led by Jorge Barreda of Peru. Working with Jorge was Henk Plaatje (NED), Leo Vekemans (BEL), Benno Loske (GER) and Ronald Ramos (PUR).
We were blessed with the best team imaginable who helped at every phase of this event. Thank You to everyone!