Read Jeff Morgan’s report from Aruba.
Following its successful introduction to the sailing calendar in 2012, the 2nd Aruban Open Championships attracted 16 teams from Europe to the small Caribbean island to join the 12 local boats to compete in the 2013 OAK which incorporated the Dart 18 Aruba National Championships over November 28th – December 1st.
Amongst the entrants Thierry Schmitter, 2011 Disabled Athlete of the Year and 3 times Para-Olympian competitor & medalist.
“The Dart 18 is a superb mix of sailing and having fun with friends so this event is so nice to do after such a long hard schedule. And sailing beautiful flat crystal blue warm water in December, well, I could not resist the temptation!”
The opening day was not a slow and leisurely tropical introduction as the Race Director Peter Westera managed to squeeze in four upwind/downwind races.
Local teenager Sil Grijpma & Stephan Dekker led to the first mark with Britain’s Morgan brothers TwoAnchorsRacing second, they though were caught out by the power of the gusts and were over, swimming with the turtles as the rest of the fleet barrelled past.
Three quick laps saw defending champion, BNR Watersports, Ruud Goudriaan & Yvonne Krab (NED) move through the fleet to take the opening victory, followed by the Morgans who had made an amazing recovery. Race two and TwoAnchorsRacing managed to stay upright leading from the start line for victory ahead of fellow Brits David Lloyd & Hayley Smith.
The two hour pasta lunch and the energy zapping heat did not deter the fleet who headed out for another two races which TwoAnchorsRacing capitalised on the morning session by winning both. Martin Van Welden (ARU) and Lloyd shared the 2nd places.
Day two and the British teams again dominated the day. Two morning victories for Eurofit OMG Mike Gomme sailing with Jake Barnes on a special sports science college project having a great introduction to cat sailing. After lunch OMG’s racing was quickly interrupted by a spectacular pitch-pole.
The windier conditions and with limited availability of spare parts Steve Morgan took the gamble of staying ashore and with a few capsizes it was down to Lloyd to keep Britain’s flag flying, winning the two afternoon races. Goudriaan also had a consistent day, with a 4th, 3rd, and two 2nd places.
The third day saw a change to the usual upwind downwind format as the fleet were sent off on a long distance race of some 20 miles in light but gusty conditions around the coast which finished at Nikki Beach where the teams relaxed and were treated to another long lunch.
With the race counting as two, meaning double points would be scored it was Morgan who won the cat and mouse chase to take victory ahead of Lloyd.
Replenished, the teams spread out across a small inlet adjacent to the airport runway for the start of the second distance race, back to the Aruba Beach Cat base with all of the competitors enjoying a variety of conditions and some of the less sailed points of sailing. Gomme mastered the art, taking victory ahead of Morgan and Lloyd, who going into the final day barring disaster were the only two teams that had a realistic chance of winning The 2013 Dart 18 OAK.
Racing in such a relaxed atmosphere that even the committee boat forgetting to take the start sequence flags out to the race area, which resulted in an hours delay, and combined with other competitors rigging his boat was still not enough of an incentive for Steve Morgan to reach the start line as he was pinned in his hotel room suffering a bout of Montezuma’s revenge and unable to take up the challenge.
Now all eyes focused on the remaining podium places.
The final 3 races saw Mike Gomme’s EuroFit OMG scoring 2 thirds and a 7th which resulted in them having to settle for 3rd overall just 2 points behind BNR Watersports’s Ruud Goudriaan who secured his 2nd place with two 4th and a 5th place finish.
Dick Ganzeman and Valerie Goudriaan (NED) on another of the BNR Watersports boats scored two 1st places to go with a 2nd as they snatched 4th place overall by just one point ahead of Heinke van Woudenberg and Leon van Dalfsen (NED) who did their very best in trying to contain him with two 2nd and a 3rd place.
“After the great year I have had it is just fantastic to top it with a win here in Aruba” said David Lloyd DinghyInsurance.com of Stokes Bay SC the 2013 Dart 18 Aruba Champion adding, “it was a shame about TwoAnchors, they had been on it all week so it would have been an interesting battle.”