Under the brilliant sunshine on the sparkling waters of the Caribe Sea, the Optimists sailors of the Belize Sailing Association (BzSA) competed in the National Finals in San Pedro on Ambergris Caye.
Twenty-five sailors supported by their coaches, peers, family and friends, sailed 6 races over the course of two days to find the best of the best for the Belize National Team.
An Optimist sailor within the class rule is a 9 to 15 year old, who is master and commander of an internationally recognized class of sailing dinghy. There are 26 Race certified Optimist Dinghies and close to 150 sailors sailing from five clubs across the country.
First overall was Kevin Velasquez from the San Pedro Sailing Club. Kevin is 11 years old and has been sailing with the team since its inception 18 months ago. He is a little "go getter" who always seems to rank in the top 5. He is a smart kid from a large family of sailors with two older sisters on the team and three younger siblings waiting to start! He attends Holy Cross School and loves the sport.
Kevin is also the recipient of the "Denys Bradley Cup". Denys Wade Bradley is a Belizean boat designer and builder who has for 70 years built and sailed traditional and "one design classes" in Belize.
The "Denys Bradley Cup" was donated by Mr. Bradley to be presented annually as a perpetual trophy for the best Optimist sailor. The sterling silver cup, mounted on zericote pith, is held at the Museum of Belize under antiquities legislation as it dates back to 1923 and was originally donated by Harleys as a trophy for the Baron Bliss Regatta.
Second overall, the silver, medalist was Antonio Ricardez Hernandez. Antonio is 12 years old and attends Buttonwood Bay Nazarene Primary School. He is self- taught sailor and having sailed for just 8 months, he has been a finalist in every Regatta that he has attended. Antonio is a natural sailor who loves the sea above and below.
Third placed bronze medal winner is Jorge Oliveres. Jorge is 12 years old and has been sailing for 18 months. He lives with his brother Luis and his sister and brother in law on the island of Ambergris Caye. He attends New Horizon School and is President of his class.
A common thread often mentioned when talking about these young sailors in the BzSA clubs, is the positive effect that participation in sailing has on them as individuals and within the communicates in which they live. Many of these young people have demonstrated an improvement in their school attendance, a more positive outlook on life and for many a significant improvement in their grades at school. All of the Optimist Sailors from everywhere in Belize are to be congratulated for their dedication and hard work.
The BzSA recognizes that a National Championship Regatta is a significant undertaking for those volunteers who are the Governing Officials at the Regatta. We, the members, thank the Regatta Committee volunteers who conducted a well-organized, fun filled event.
A special "Thank You" goes out to the San Pedro Sailing Club who hosted the National Championships. You made this event a memorable one for all.
For more information on sailing activities and our organization, contact the Belize sailing Association.