Sports — 31 October 2014
Belizean sailors shine in Bart’s Bash Regatta

BELIZE CITY–Twenty-eight Belizeans were among 16,780 skippers of all ages, from all over the world, and in all sorts of sailboats participating in the Bart’s Bash, a event that the Guinness Book of World Records accepts as the largest regatta in history, which was held on September 21, 2014 in memory of champion sailor and philanthropist, Andrew “Bart” Simpson, and in support of The Andrew Simpson Sailing Foundation.

Although it has taken the regatta’s volunteer committee in the United Kingdom (UK) 5 weeks to compile the results, it proved to be worth the wait for the Belizean skippers who performed commendably, and thus, established a name for themselves within the international sailing community.

1,179 of the boats contending were Optimist class dinghies sailed individually by children aged 8-15. Eight young, Belizean Optimist skippers in this massive regatta finished with ranks among the top 5% in their class and among the top 8% overall.

They are Sarah White, 14, who finished 309th overall, 39th out of all 2,369 lady skippers, 11th among all Optimists, and 6th among the 284 girls sailing Optimists; Chris Lopez, 13, who finished 341st overall, 12th in the Optimist fleet; Kevin Velasquez, 13, who finished 450th overall, 19th in the Optimist fleet of 1179; Alexandra Lausen, 10, who sailed to a 556th place finish overall, 81st place among all 2,369 lady skippers, 24th place in the Optimist fleet, and 12th place among the 284 girls sailing Optimists; Mitchell Sersland, 12, who finished 668th overall and 27th in the 1,179-boat Optimist fleet; Grace Brown, 13, finished 737th overall, 96th out of 2,369 lady skippers, 30th in the Optimist fleet, and 14th among girls sailing Optimists; Caroline Sersland, 10, finished 784th overall, 104th out of 2,369 lady skippers, 32nd in the Optimist fleet, and 15th among girls sailing Optimists; and Nicolas Lausen, 9, sailed to a 1,258th finish overall which still placed him in the top 8% and 52nd among the Optimist fleet of 1,179.

The adult Belizean entrants have similarly impressed sailing communities around the world, such as Luis Blanco, 19, an SPSC product aboard a Hobie Getaway catamaran who placed 30th overall, the highest among all Belizeans.

The other adults from Belize finished as follows: 36th – Self-taught Willie Leslie aboard his Nacra 17 catamaran; 46th – Jorge Olivarez (Luis Blanco’s younger brother), an SPSC product on a Hobe Wave; 51st – Andy Milner, SPSC’s Commodore, aboard his Hobie 18 catamaran, who also placed 5th out of the 14 others in that class; 64th – Forrest Jones, SPSC’s Vice-Commodore, sailing his Hobie Getaway, came in 2nd behind Luis Blanco in the Getaway class, which had only 2 other entrants; 201st – Chris Beaumont, of the Belize Chocolate Company, on his Laser Radial, who was also 8th out of 953 in his class; 225th – Joy White (Sarah White’s mom), from SPSC, on a Hobie Wave, placing her 20th among 2,369 lady skippers; 262nd – Ari Janze, a rookie from Cayo Espanto; 1,405th – Serwin Baldar, from SPSC, on his Com PAC 19, who placed 5th among the 577 sailors for whom this race was their very first; and 2,498th – Gerry Neuman, on one of Cayo Espanto’s waves, is still in the top 15% of all finishers and placed 12th among those racing for the very first time.

Belizeans also took the top 5 places among the small fleet of 19 Hobie Wave catamarans that entered – 1st was Jorge Olivarez, of SPSC; Joy White, also of SPSC was 2nd; Ari Janze of No Rush Tours, San Pedro finished 3rd; Cindy Vigna, from SPSC Reso, was 4th; and Gerry Neuman, of Cayo Espanto, came in 5th.

Out of 1,498 rookie sailors, Belize’s 3 rookies all placed in the top 20. San Pedro’s Joy White placed 5th, Venezia Del Caribe Resort & Spas Richard Knorr placed 10th, and San Pedro’s Cindy Vigna’s 1,133th place finish placed her 18th among the rookies.

Andrew “Bart” Simpson lost his life at age 37, while practicing aboard Sweden’s 72-foot America’s Cup catamaran that cart wheeled in preliminaries in San Francisco Bay on May 8, 2013. The names of all the skippers in this memorial to his life will be recorded in the Guinness book’s online edition. (Info courtesy Forrest Jones, Vice-Commodore, San Pedro Sailing Club (SPSC).

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