By Laurie Fullerton
Hamilton, Bermuda October 8, 2011: All of the 34 international and national sailors competing at the RenRe Junior Gold Cup felt a bit lost, than found, on the race course today as they tried to negotiate the shifty winds of Bermuda. Picking the correct side of the course proved to be a real challenge. Yet, after five races on the day— twelve in all— and after some erratic finishes, American Wade Waddell retains first place with 30 points.
“I still find this to be tough with shifty, strong breezes and it is cold weather sailing for me,” said Waddell who comes from Miami, Florida. “But, I think I just tried to stay in the top of fleet as best I could.”
Waddell is an all weather sailor but like many of the others, trying to pick the shifts was the day’s toughest challenge. “I had two rough races and two good ones but it was really about paying attention.” Waddell actually was up and down today with a 13, 21,4, 1, 3 but again with his consistent sailing over the last three days he remains the one to beat.
Astrid Still of Finland is in second place with 39 points and she said that “being tall is great here as we need the height and weight with these winds. I like it windy and shifty and seem to have my best results here.” Martyna Mik of Poland agrees that she “likes it windy and shifty” and she has stayed at the top of the fleet throughout the three days, and is now in third place with 47 points.
The majority of the top competitors are here without the benefit of their coaches, and with such challenging conditions they said that they do tend to talk more to each other and work it out on the racecourse. “What is interesting here is that when I am competing away, and don’t have my coach to talk with and test things out with, I test it out with the other competitors,” Waddell said. “We are all in this it together.”
For Odile van Aanholt, who is from the Netherland Antilles and is racing at the RenRe Junior Gold Cup for the second time, “mentally, I do rely on the other sailors but I do miss my coaches advice on rigging my boat. That has been a challenge for me.” Van Aanholt is a friendly and petite girl who is sailing well despite her light weight and is currently in 13th place.
Bart Lambriex of Holland is currently in fourth place and is improving each day as the regatta goes forward and had two first place finishes today. As he sails often on a lake in Holland, he seems to do well picking the shifts. “I do find these conditions to be very hard but maybe I am making better decisions as I begin to learn these waters.”
Local knowledge is something the visiting champions don’t have the benefit of but even for the locals, the racing decisions have been tough.
“It is really tough out there,” said Makai Joell, who is in 14th place and will “age out” of the Optimist fleet in three months and has been racing them for six years here in Bermuda. “Even for us, it is just a matter of hanging in there and trying to figure out the shifts.”
For James Amaral, 14, of Bermuda, the experience has proven to be invaluable. “It is good practice for us because the competition is so good.”
For Marvin Frisch of Germany, one of the most amiable boys on the water today and now at the RenRe Junior Gold Cup for the third time, his advice to everyone sailing an Optimist is to “keep the boat flat and keep the water out of it,” if you want to sail fast.
For race committee chairman Charles Tatem, who has run this event on the water for the past three years, he adds that “doing this event is part of giving back and also encouraging the kids. We make the race course challenging and give them a lot to work with, and we owe it to them to give them the very best course we can. What I really like about these kids, too, is that after the racing is finished for the day, they often sail past us and say thank you to the race committee. And, they really mean it.”
Tomorrow is the final day of racing for the juniors and they will compete right in Hamilton harbor during a break in to the Argo Group Gold Cup finals.
For more results and photos go to www.argogroupgoldcup.com and click on the Jr Gold Cup tab.
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FAST FACTS for GUEST SAILORS: Seventeen international sailors, aged 12-15, twelve boys, five girls, sixteen countries, ten National Champions, four sailors finished within the top fifteen at IODA 2010 Worlds, one IODA European Champion. Eleven of the sixteen sailors made their country’s Worlds Team for 2011 Worlds this December in New Zealand. Sailors come from the Caribbean, North America, Europe, Asia, Scandinavia and Oceania.