Dutchmen Eduard ZANEN and Mischa HEEMSKERK lead the 17th Aruba Heineken Catamaran Regatta as the finish approaches in Palm Beach.
Eduard ZANEN and Mischa HEEMSKERK (NED) took over the lead on Monday, as former leaders Wouter SAMAMA and Sam FRANK (NED) had a troublesome day with two capsizes and a near collision with a boat out of control. They dropped to the fourth position overall. Gunnar LARSEN and Bastiaan TENTIJ (NED) climbed to a second overall, followed by GUMMER and BOGAARDS (GBR). Manfred THOMASCH and Henk HANKART (AUT) are still leading the fleet of slower cats.
It was an exhausting and tough day for the 45 competing teams, as the wind gusted up to sometimes 25 knots. Two out of three races had a big reach. The sailors enjoyed the exciting competition and the Pelican Pier Party afterwards.
Coca Cola Race 5 - "Racing is similar to the F18 Europeans"
"It was windy",
was Gunnar LARSEN's first reaction back on the Palm Beach. "The level of racing is similar to the F18 Europeans. It is really close and tough."
LARSEN and TENTIJ changed positions with James POWER and Gillian POWER (GBR) all the time. POWER commented, "Xander POLS was actually leading at the first upwind mark, followed by Gunnar and us. I think it was the second downwind that Xander lost a bit. Mischa and Eduard caught up on us, but we were battling with Gunnar and Bastiaan."
On the last beat, the POWER's chose the right side of the course, whereas LARSEN and TENTIJ both went left. POWER: "We had a favourable shift and got ahead of them. We saw pressure on the left and gibed after the hoist. As we got into it, the gust suddenly disappeared. Gunnar saw that and carried on to the right and won. It was so close. It could have been anyone's race."
LARSEN explained his strategy: "We go for the edges, but we stay safe. We try not to push over the limit. We consolidated during the race and grabbed our chance on the last lap. But I have deeply respect for Gillian POWER. She holds on in changing positions at 25 knots."
Aruba Aloe Race 6 - Good counting makes a difference
Some black clouds and rain preceded the first race in the afternoon. The race committee decided it was time to train the reach, so the fleet sailed a triangle course with two sausages (one for the slower cats). That was a challenge with the strong gusts up to 20-25 knots, but the teams hang on surprisingly well. ZANEN and HEEMSKERK were smoking, with LARSEN and TENTIJ in their wake. POLS and VEENSTRA followed in third position. Wouter SAMAMA explained, "We gained a spot in the gate and were just behind Xander. He was quicker upwind and we on the run."
The two front runners had a big lead, as they passed the finish line for another lap. They miscounted and so did Xander POLS, but he noticed it in time and quickly turned around. SAMAMA and FRANK took the bullet, followed by Stuart GUMMER. SAMAMA: "Finally we had some luck."
HEEMSKERK with a smile: "That was very kind of us, wasn't it."
Palm Tours Race 7 - "Awesome racing"
While rigging down the sails, LARSEN and HEEMSKERK joked about their last race. The two Nacra Infusions had a very close battle on the downwind run. LARSEN to HEEMSKERK's skipper Eduard ZANEN: "In case you would have looked around, you would have seen our spinnaker pole."
They had a gibe duel, which was won by ZANEN and HEEMSKERK. On the second downwind run, Stuart GUMMER (GBR) caught up on LARSEN and TENTIJ. GUMMER: "I heard they were match racing with James and Gillian, which probably helped us."
After a good start, GUMMER got tangled up by a Tornado just after rounding the first mark, but he managed to catch up on the run. GUMMER: "Richard ALLEN was just before us on the reach and we overtook him. In the second beat, we tacked away to the left and gained on the front runners."
On the final reach and run, he chased ZANEN and HEEMSKERK, who stayed ahead. HEEMSKERK: "We covered on GUMMER on the last lap towards the finish and won. The competition is just great. You can not allow yourself any mistakes." ZANEN: "It is different from other years. It is such a competitive fleet." GUMMER was almost speechless: "It was an awesome last race."
One Happy Family Grijpma
The small fleet of slower catamarans (eight entries) includes two boats crewed by the GRIJPMA family. The brothers Sil (10) and Rens (12) teamed up with their dad Rob on the Prindle 19. Their sister Frederique (16) crews for her mom Francis on a Dart 18. Sil, while waiting for the beach shower: "The reaching was very fast. We nearly nose dived a couple of times. I did not dare to go on the wire and my dad said we shouldn't do that." The 'boys' crew is in second position overall after seven races. Frederique had a hard day, as they capsized twice: "But I do like it very much. We never sailed together before this event and we are learning so fast now." At the moment, the 'girls' team is fourth overall.
Aruba Heineken Catamaran Regatta - www.arubaregatta.com