Belize Sailing Association and its Student Sailors Prevailed Against Mother Nature’s Tricks in the Baron Bliss Harbor Regatta
On Saturday, March 7, and Sunday, March 8, the 87th Annual Baron Bliss Harbor Regatta featured the first regatta of the 2015 Belize Sailing Association (BzSA) Optimist Dinghy Racing Series. Six races made up the regatta, three on Saturday and three on Sunday. The young sailors will compete in four more similar regattas this year to determine who will become Belize Optimist Sailor of the Year, and who will take home other sailing honors at the end of the series.
Though delighted by dolphins cavorting among them, the 31 young sailors became rather more surprised than pleased by some of Mother Nature’s other whimsies. For starters, a virtual dead calm greeted the first race on Saturday. The race committee clocked what wind there was at 4 knots. Accompanying this meager breeze and flowing in the same southeasterly direction was a strong 6 knot current ebbing directly across Saturday’s first start line from the mouth of Haulover Creek, which was flooded for the Ruta Maya canoe race.
The wind was not strong enough to prevent the current from pushing the boats backwards, so that only two were able to cross the start before the current stalled and backed them up, too. In effect, Mother Nature called off the race.
Undaunted, the race committee vowed to redesign and reset the course and carry on. During these preparations, Mother Nature relented and reoriented the wind to increase slightly and to blow from its appropriate and traditional direction – the northeast. The day’s three races were spared, as were the feelings of young sailors, particularly those who had traveled far and at no small expense to try their prowess in the year’s first ranking regatta.
Sunday’s light winds were interrupted by a front that blew in from the east. It squalled and spawned unwanted visitors – two waterspouts that caroused their way across the course. Though there was never a close encounter, one appeared to chase a safety boat while the other prompted sailors to take evasive action. All showed intelligent prudence, but none of these intrepid young sailors retired from the race.
With like determination, this regatta concluded its six races. Belize City Mayor Darrell Bradley joined Governor General Sir Colville Young SR to present trophies and medals to the winners at the BTL park bandstand on Sunday afternoon after the last race.
In the White Fleet, made up of Belize’s most experienced Optimist sailors, one former National Champion, Kevin Velasquez, 13, of San Pedro, took home the trophy. Kevin placed 1st in all but one of the races – a 4th place finish, which he discarded. His consistency was truly remarkable. Trent Hardwick,12, a Sea Scout from Belize City and another former National Champion, placed 2nd. A close competitor always, Antonio Ricardez, 14, hails from Belize City and captured 3rd Place. The winner’s sister and current National Champion, Blanca Velasquez, came in 4th.
The winner in the Green Fleet of sailors with less than a year’s experience was Diana Carlin, 12, of Placencia. Diana placed 1st in all but her last race. Christian “CJ” Ferrell Jr., age 9, from Placencia, placed 2nd, and Adyaneiri Susie Teck, 10, from Corozal took 3rd.. All of the 31 sailors and the race committee and organizers are to be congratulated for persevering in the face of Mother Nature’s little tricks, for that is what good sailors learn to do.
Respectfully submitted, Forrest Jones, Belize Sailing Association Public Relations Officer.