|ARUBA-(13-11-2006) On Sunday November 12 2006, the 16de Aruba Heineken Catamaran Regatta started off with a strong fleet. Former winners, national champions and double Olympic medallist Mitch Booth lined up for the annual Caribbean catamaran classic. The 46 participating teams representing the UK, Netherlands, Aruba, France, Belgium and Austria enjoyed today’s trade wind, the sun and the heavy competition. After the practice race in the morning, the first official starting gun was fired at about 2.30 pm local time. Mark Rijks en Brenda Liefhebber (NED) scored two bullets with their Dart 18 and are in the lead of the smaller boats. The British James and Gillian Power, sailing a F18 Capricorn, were unbeatable for the bigger catamarans.
It is Gillian Power’s third participation in the Aruba Heineken Catamaran Regatta and she is defending her title. Last year she took the victory with Stuart Gummer, who sails with Hannah Burke this week. Gillian Power was surprised by today’s success: “I can’t believe it. It was great to win the practice race, but I did not expect that we would win the next two as well.” Although they went fast, it was not an easy day. First they had to deal with Mitch Booth and Pim Nieuwenhuis (NED, F18 Hobie Tiger) and than they were chasing Peter Vink and Mark Pols (NED, F18 Nacra Infusion). Power: “If Peter and Mark did not have had a tingle in their spinnaker at the second hoist, the competition would have even been closer. There was also an extreme wind shift in that race. The boats that had gibed directly after the mark, were gone.” It was an exciting competition on the first day, which caused close results. Numbers two till four are tied on six points. The new combination Gummer/Burke (GRB, F18 Capricorn) finished fourth and second. Wouter Samama and Paul Buyse (NED, F18 Nacra Infusion) were consistent with two third positions.
Zwisterleven Sailing Team Booth/Nieuwenhuis just started its Olympic campaign for the Olympic Games of Beijing in 2008. After ten years of intensive sailing and competing on the highest level, Booth split up with Herbert Dercksen in July 2006 and teamed up with Nieuwenhuis. The Aruba Heineken Catamaran Regatta is their first trial of strength in their busy schedule of the coming months. At the beginning of December, they will line up for the Tornado Worlds in Buenos Aires. Booth about their first racing day on Aruba: “It was tricky close to the shore. There were a lot of shifts. In the last race we were completely wrong in the beat and had to come back from far behind.” A second and fourth was their score. Nieuwenhuis: “It went well at the beginning, but things started to become difficult in the second race. I don’t think we had one shift right.”
Although Richard Allen and Simon Farren from the UK are familiar with the area, they needed a longer warming up with their Tornado. Allen: “We were a bit rusty, as it was our first time on a cat since last year’s Aruba Regatta. But the conditions were perfect. Not too windy, which was good for us.” They took the line honours in the last race, which was an 11th position on handicap.
In the fleet of nine smaller catamarans, it was a battle between the Netherlands and Austria. In both races, Manfred Thomasch en Henk Hankart (AUT, Dart 18) were leading for a while, but Mark Rijks and Brenda Liefhebber took over this position twice. Rijks: “Especially the last race was challenging. Manfred and later on Nicolette were ahead of us in two laps. It was not until the beat towards the finish, that we managed to overtake the last boat.” This year, Rijks and Liefhebber make their début on Texel. Liefhebber about her initial impression: “It is difficult sailing with al those gusts, but at the end of the afternoon, we recognized some patterns.”
Ten races are scheduled in total. The last one will be sailed on Friday morning and the sailors will take a rest on Wednesday. Daily video and press reports, results and images will be published on the event’s website www.arubaregatta.com.
In addition to the head sponsors Heineken and Aruba Tourism Authority, the Aruba Heineken Catamaran Regatta is sponsored by Hapag Lloyd, TNG Swiss Watches, KLM, Holiday Inn, Does & Cadushi, Magic Marine, Coca Cola, AWA, Anthony Veder & Co, Aruba Watersports Center, Kodak, Palm Tours, Pelican Watersports, Seaworld Explorer and Aruba Bank.
Top 5 bigger cats after two races:
1. GBR - Power/Power, 2 points
2. GBR – Gummer/Burke, 6 points
3. NED – Booth/Nieuwenhuis, 6 points
4. NED – Samama/Buyse, 6 points
5. NED – Moret/Smissaert, 12 points
Top 3 smaller cats after two races:
1. NED – Rijks/Liefhebber, 2 points
2. AUT – Thomasch/Hankart, 4 points
3. NED – Van Gorp/Gisbergen, 6 points