Youth Summer Sailing Program Holds It’s First Sailing Regatta
Girls defeated boys and younger siblings defeated their older siblings. Home grown San Pedrano kids captured wins in two of the three semifinals and won the final race itself in last Sunday’s (7/24/2011) Youth Sailing Regatta at The San Pedro Sailing Club on the beach at Caribbean Villas Resort. After only 2 one-hour lessons apiece in the four Optimist-class dinghies sponsored respectively by Milo Paz, Caribbean Villas, the Symes family’s weather station, and Scott and Jody Harnish’s Palapa Bar, eleven student sailors ages 8 – 13 proved themselves already good enough to complete three laps on a true, triangular sailing race course.
In and of itself, that speaks to the fact that San Pedranos have sailing in their souls as well as in their heritage. Our town elders will not be surprised that their grandchildren and great grandchildren acquit themselves with such nautical distinction and at such a young age. Milo Paz told this reporter that he was a sponsor, because – football, basketball… and computer games aside – this is our island’s heritage and has been, from time immemorial. Of necessity, when today’s San Pedrano town elders were children, they had to learn how to sail.
The sailing lessons and opportunity to try racing are free. To find out how to participate, call Paul McCarthy, the club’s Training and Equipment Officer at 610-0773 or stop by his place of business – Sailsports Belize on the Beach at Caribbean Villas. The club is an affiliate of the Belize Sailing Association, a national NPO.
Sunday’s regatta owes profuse thanks to Paul for deftly and tirelessly monitoring the exciting “LeMans starts” and then the safety under sail of all the young skippers. Three qualifying races determined which four student skippers would race in the final. The first qualifier saw David Verralls, 13, of San Pedro High out-duel Andrew Tharnock-Wilson, 12, and the Grey brothers, Corey, 14, Hunter, 12, both of whom attend ACES. Andrew is here from England visiting family. He raced the fastest 2nd place time of the day, which won him the helm of the 4th boat in the final. In the second heat, calm and steady Princess Bailey, 11, of the RC School prevailed over fellow RC student Jerdon Anderson, 12, and Island Academy’s Jones sisters, Morgain, 12, and Tiegan, 10.
The third heat saw Kevin Velasquez, 9, of Holy Cross ride a puff of the light and capricious wind past Mitch Sersland, 9, of Isla Bonita School and hold on for the win. The same winds deserted the sail of Kevin’s Holy Cross schoolmate, Neideline Mexa, 8, who placed 3rd.
In the final, the winds were as fickle as they had previously been favorable to Princess, who struggled in vain to rejoin the tight pack she was among while rounding the first several buoys. Up ahead, Kevin had jumped out to an early lead followed very closely by David and Andrew. Distances between first and third widened and narrowed at various times, but less than three lengths separated each boat from the one ahead when they rounded the last buoy and headed for the finish (see attached photo). In the end, neither David nor Andrew were able to improve their positions, and they fell to Kevin’s 1st by taking 2nd and 3rd, respectively.
Regattas like this are as entertaining to watch as they are to sail. All spectators are welcome. Food and refreshments are available, and the races provide onlookers with highly colorful and sometimes dramatic entertainment in a setting that is no less than stunning. Many photos of this day’s event are posted on the San Pedro Sailing Club Facebook community page, for friends and family and anyone else interested to go to and enjoy.
This update from Forrest Jones Press Officer, San Pedro Sailing Club.