|ARUBA-(9-11-2004) On Tuesday November 9th, the Aruba Heineken Catamaran Regatta had no valid race. At sunrise, clouds and rain covered Aruba , but there was no wind. During lunch, the wind picked up a little bit and the sixth starting gun was fired. The race committee shortened the course, but used the wrong procedure. They got protested and the result was found invalid. Gunnar Larsen and Karen Swiers from Amigoe won the VIP – Race.
Confusion over shortening the race
After a quiet morning, the sea breeze picked up after lunch. The sixth race started with about seven knots wind. At the briefing, organiser Edwin Lodder explained the process of shortening the race. The s-flag would be put up only at the gate, after which the competitors would have to finish immediately. But on the water, the s-flag appeared at the upwind mark, which caused confusion amongst several teams. According to the sailing instructions, the race committee did the right thing. Richard Allen: “It was confusing. We were racing Mischa and after the signal we put up the kite and went downwind to the gate. Half way we realized we had to finish, so we had to go back beating to windward. Others went straight away.” Mischa Heemskerk: “It was right what they did. We will protest all competitors, because everybody passed the line at the wrong side. We will have our result and the others a dsq.” Back on the beach during the daily Heineken Happy Hour with beer and snacks, all sailors discussed the issue whether the race should be cancelled. Three teams protested against the committee and they won. The outcome was an invalid result, due to mistakes regarding shortening the course.
Not everybody was happy with the cancellation. Tornado skipper Huw Reynolds (GBR): “We won! We had a good start on starboard. We tacked early on port and had a good pressure. The Ventilo’s were fast upwind, but we overtook them downwind. It is our first win, so it is a shame if they throw the race out.” Gerhard van Geest (NED), crewing for Hans Breur on the Hobie Tiger, also hoped for a counting result: “We had an early start, but we made up for it. We came close to Gunnar Larsen, but I think we sailed for nothing. Too bad, because it was fun.”
VIP - Race
After the Daimond International Race, VIP’s got the chance to compete in a real competition with experienced skippers. Ten local sponsors and press took this opportunity and sailed out. Most of them had not quite got used to it, but they looked very dynamic in the sailing gear. It was close racing, but Karin Swiers from Amigoe won with Gunnar Larsen. Swiers: “I had never done this before, but it was fun. I really liked the speed and my skipper was the best.” Ricardo from Aruba Tourism Authority ended up in second position with Sebbe Godefroid, followed by Julie Renfro from Aruba Today with Simon Farren. Renfro is a well known participant at the VIP-race and the Aruba Heineken Catamaran Regatta, which she won in 1996. In 1987 she became Female World Champion on the Hobie 16. Renfro: “We had a very good start, but we did not win. It was my fault, because I thought we could wait to fly the kite and then we were too late.” The winners received a special medal made of glas and of course there was champagne for everybody.
It is party time this evening. All competitors are invited for dinner on the Pelican Pier with music. But they have to take care, since they will not have a day off tomorrow. Due to today’s invalid race, two are scheduled for Wednesday. The weather forecast shows more wind coming from the southwest.
The Aruba Heineken Regatta is sponsored by the Aruban Toerist Authority, Heineken, Hapag Lloyd, Holiday Inn, KLM, TNG, Magic Marine and Does & Cadushi, Setar, Daimonds International, Palm Tours, Tropical Bottling Company, Antony Veder, Kodac and Coca Cola.