Members of the Cayman Islands Sailing Team competed at the prestigious Orange Bowl International Youth Regatta in Miami, Florida.
The regatta, held from December 27-30, attracted over 700 young sailors from 15 countries. It is one of the largest youth regattas in the world.
In the Optimist class, Cayman was represented by Matthew Courtis, Ben Williams, Alex Robertson, and Camilo Bernal.
Matthew Courtis led the team with an outstanding 27th place out of 98 sailors in the advanced Optimist Red fleet. Matthew will conclude his Optimist career this year before he trains for the Youth Olympic Games in 2010 in the Byte class.
Camilo Bernal, also an experienced Optimist sailor, struggled in the light wind while Ben Williams and Alex Robertson sailed well considering it was their first international event.
Optimist coach, Allan Coutts, was impressed with the Optimist sailors.
‘This year was the highest level of competition at the event that I have ever seen,’ Coutts said. ‘Matthew Courtis had a great regatta and is capable of success at the highest level of international sailing.
‘Alex Robertson and Ben Williams also sailed well and have obvious potential. Unfortunately Camilo Bernal was too heavy for the boat and it made it hard for him to execute the game plan.’
Oliver Fogerty and Lizzy Wauchope represented the team in the Laser 4.7 class. Oliver also had a solid regatta, placing 23 out of 34.
This was Oliver’s first major overseas regatta and he managed two top 15 place finishes. Oliver is also a Byte sailor and will be training for the Byte World Championships taking place this summer.
Lizzy Wauchope, sailing in her first regatta, also had respectable finishes and improved throughout the event.
Jamie Williams and Iain Robertson rounded out the team sailing in the Optimist beginner fleet. Jamie sailed an impressive mid fleet finish with a 30th out of 58. Both boys learned plenty and are looking forward to the next event.
The Cayman Islands Sailing Club (CISC) expressed its delight with the young sailors.
‘The Orange Bowl attracts world class competitors and I am very proud of how our sailors raced,’ said CISC Sailing Director, Mike Weber.
‘I would like to give my special thanks to our coach and team leader, Jenna Pickering, and coaches Allan and Rob Coutts for working with our young athletes.’