2021 Sunfish Worlds report – Florida

Sarasota, Fl … 50 years, imagine, 50 years of creating and building a sailing organization culminating in a 50th Sunfish World Championship. The Sarasota Sailing Squadron hosted special invited guests from the past few decades and one hundred competitors from 11 countries with 25% of the registered competitors being female. All special happenings worth celebrating!

Life Members at the 50th Sunfish Worlds

In attendance as special guests were past International Sunfish Class Association (ISCA) presidents and other Class members whose dedicated efforts from decades ago went above and beyond to help ISCA reach this major 50-year milestone. Most of these guests had received ISCA’s highest honor – to be a member of the prestigious Life Member group. With a total of 25 Life members eligible for induction at one per year according to the ISCA Constitution, 12 of these Life members made the effort to attend this special 50th celebration. Congratulations to Paul-Jon Patin, a past ISCA president for 6 years, who is now the 26th Life member to join this special group for the time he devoted to support and build the Sunfish Class. Dedication to the Class has no time limit!

On the racecourse, there were several past Sunfish World Champions and many national champions competing against those who were vying for their own chance to become the next World Champion.

Mother Nature put on a little bit of drama queen playacting with 15-25+ mph winds on Day One. Some minor equipment breakdowns in the newly built Sunfish© from the Portugal factory sent a few competitors to shore for quick repairs. But the majority of racers remained on the course fighting stiff winds and choppy waters to keep their boats right-side up, hiking out hard to keep the boats flat to go faster.

Jonathan Martinetti of Ecuador did all the right stuff in every race to become the 2021 Sunfish World Champion. He managed a 2nd, 1st and 3rd on Day One. On Day Two with challenging winds of 15 gusting to 20+ mph, Jonathan, again, couldn’t be beat and sailed two 1sts and two 2nds. On the last race day, with one race day canceled due to no winds, Jonathan slowed down just a bit with two 2nds, one 3rd and a 26th (his throwout). But there was no one close enough to take away his first place standing. An incredible feat by one of the nicest young men who has been part of the Sunfish “family” for many years.

Winning the second place overall honor was Jean Paul de Trazegnies of Peru who is one of our former World Champions always finishing near the top of the fleet. With a 19th place finish as his throwout, Jean Paul kept pace with Jonathan Martinetti but not quite enough to beat him. Still, that’s impressive sailing.

The 3rd place overall winner was Conner Blouin of Charleston, SC USA who was first at the finish line four times out of the eleven races. Just not quite enough to pass either Jonathan or Jean Paul in the final standings. This might have been a special occasion for Conner, too, since his Dad, Joe Blouin of Tampa, FL, also competed in this World Championship and won the top overall finish for the Great Grand Master age group (70-79) with a 47th.

In 4th place was Peter Stanton of the U.S. Virgin Islands. The 5th place winner was David Mendelblatt of St. Petersburg, FL, who was also the top finishing Master (50-59). Simon Gomez Ortiz of Colombia, a former Youth Sunfish Champion, placed 6th overall. In 7th place was Matias Dyck of Ecuador who got a bullet in Race #1. Jose Daniel Hernandez Santos of Guatemala placed 8th overall and got a bullet in Race #7. In 9th place overall was Jeff Olson of Sarasota, FL, who was also the top finisher for the Apprentice Master age group (40-49). The top female finisher was Caterina Romero of Peru who placed 10th overall.

The Top Ten Winners (L to R) Bottom Row: Simon Gomez/COL, Conner Blouin/USA, Jonathan Martinett/ECU, Jean Paul de Trazegnies/PER. Second Row: Caterina Romero/PER, Matias Dyck/ECU, Jose Daniel Hernandez Santos/GUA, David Mendelblatt/USA. Top Row: Jeff Olson/USA, Peter Stanton/USVI

Another “age group” top winner was Paul Odegaard, 84 years old of Gilford, CT, who was the top Sr. Grand Master (80+). Paul is also a Life Member. And at 84, with wife Polly by his side, Paul continues to actively participate and sail in Sunfish events.

Other special awards included:

Marco Polo Award – Constanza Olivares/CHI

Sportsmanship Award – Vicki Palmer/USA, Austin Yacht Club and Arizona Yacht Club.

Youngest Participant – Sophia Zimmerman/PER

Although an exquisite bouquet of tropical flowers doesn’t sparkle like a silver trophy might, it symbolized a sparkle of a different kind as our way to say Thank You to Cindy Clifton who chaired this wonderful 50th Sunfish Worlds celebration. With a hard working committee who planned and worked on this event for over two years, interspersed with Covid delays, no competitor was ignored or forgotten. No detail was overlooked. Kudos to this dedicated team of volunteers who helped create a 50th year celebration that will be remembered for a long, long time.

Cindy Clifton accepting a Thank You from all who experienced a great event.

Energy-building breakfasts and lunches helped competitors remain fit and healthy for the heavy air they faced. Delicious dinners provided the opportunity to meet with long-time friends who journeyed to Sarasota just to be part of this 50th Worlds celebration. And some of the raffles, games and laughter lit up the evening with hoots ‘n hollers and laughter heard ‘round the bay. It seems no competitor was too tired to have fun.

But without the support of Chris McClellan and SunfishDirect who supplied the 100 boats for this special event, we would have been feet-surfing on the waves instead of sailing brand new Sunfish shipped directly from the factory in Portugal. Yes, a few breakdowns happened, but Chris and his team had them fixed quickly. There’s no gratitude said loud enough that expresses the Thank You to Chris McClellan and his SunfishDirect team.

Well, we now had the 100 boats, but needed was a stellar Race Committee to direct competitors where to sail and when. Led b all of the race days were run with perfection. Wind, no wind, maybe wind, yikes wind – Taran made professional judgments that kept things running smoothly and fairly. We couldn’t have asked for better RC leadership. Thank you to Taran and her awesome RC Committee who set great courses for 11 races in challenging winds, rescued broken down boats, changed marks quickly when needed and who provided that needed safety net when the winds started howling.

Then came the let-down – leaving beautiful Sarasota, one of our favorite sailing venues, and all the friends we’ve met and sailed with for a big part of the last 50 years. Some of us are an “icon” which does sound better than saying we’re “old.” But no matter how long we’ve been a part of the International Sunfish Class Association, a few years or 30+ years, we all agree that our association with this “friendly” Class has played a huge role in our lives. Nothing beats good competition in a fun boat and making friends for life.

For more photos, go to the Sunfishworlds archive.

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