Aruba: Booth & Nieuwenhuis and Rijks & Liefhebber win Heineken Catamaran Regatta

Saturday, 18 November 2006

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The Dutch Hobie Tiger team Mitch Booth and Pim Nieuwenhuis has won the 16th Aruba Heineken Catamaran Regatta. Although the Dutchmen Pols/Veenstra (F18 Nacra Infusion) took the bullet in the final race, Booth/Nieuwenhuis remained the best in a fleet of 35 bigger catamarans. The Dutch Dart 18 sailors Mark Rijks and Brenda Liefhebber took the victory in the class for nine small cats. The conditions again were perfect with lots of sunshine and a warm trade-wind of about ten knots.

Holiday Inn Race: Battle for podium places
Since the fast catamarans had to sail five laps, there was a lot to gain and to lose. Booth and Nieuwenhuis could hardly lose their first position overall anymore, because Stuart Gummer and Hannah Burke (GBR, F18 Capricorn) were seven points behind. But they had a bad start and rounded the top mark in eighth position, whereas Gummer and Burke were leading. The Dutchmen caught up well in the next downwind and were third at the second top mark. Xander Pols and Tjidde Veenstra took over the lead and extended it every lap. Gummer and Booth changed positions a few times, but finally Booth and Nieuwenhuis managed to stay ahead and put pressure on Pols/Veenstra. Pols: “As an amateur, it was fantastic to compete against a great sailor like Mitch for five laps. And to beat him on the finish line. In the end he was only ten seconds behind us.” The victory of Booth/Nieuwenhuis could not be taken for granted, but they showed their professionalism by sailing a consistent series. Booth: “We had to fight for it. It would have been boring, if it was easy.”

Gummer and Burke finished third and are the runners up for the Aruba Regatta 2006. Gummer: “The competition and weather conditions were much harder this year, so I am glad with this result. It was a lovely race to finish with.” James and Gillian Power (GBR) battled for bronze with Wouter Samama and Paul Buyse (NED). Gillian Power: “It was good fun. He sailed us off the course before the start. He had to do it, but we got him on the downwind. I am very happy with our third place. After the disastrous second day, we did not think we could make it to the top three anymore. Especially after the pitch pole on Wednesday.” The Spitfire team Chris Sproat and Georgina Burke (Hannah’s sister) had its best race of the week. They were leading on handicap in the first three laps, but dropped back in the last ones. Sproat: “We missed a shift, but it is nice to finish with a good result.” They ended up in fifth position overall.

First finish for the boys
On the very last day, there was a little surprise in the small boat fleet. The Dutch family Prindle 19 with two young boys on the wire could stay ahead of Mark Rijks and Brenda Liefhebber. In yesterday’s long distance, the Grijpma team capsized and Sil (9) fell through the main sail. Over night, it was more or less fixed with tape and the three of them raced this morning and finished first. Rens (11): “Everybody on the ribs and starting vessel cheered for us. We were so happy. Yesterday, we could have finished second, but we fell over. I was very disappointed and did not want to talk about it for the rest of the day.” Sil about his first win ever: “It was nice for me, since I have never experienced that before.” Rijks and Liefhebber took their tenth bullet on handicap. Liefhebber: “It was a pity we did not have more competition, but it has been fun this week. We will come back.” Nicolette van Gorp and Ruud van Gisbergen had a nerve breaking last battle with the Austrian team Thomasch/Hankart, but remained in second position overall. Van Gorp: “We were in a comfortable second place for three laps, but Manfred came closer and closer. We hit the rudder of Mark and Brenda just before the finish and had to turn a 360. Fortunately, we could beat him overall.” One striking Dart 18 attracted the attention today. It was decorated with flags and a flower, because it was skipper Dick Ganseman’s 25th wedding-anniversary. Ganseman: “We told everybody at home they could come to Aruba for the celebration.”

For Edwin Lodder, organizer of the Aruba Heineken Catamaran Regata, this year’s edition was one of the best: “It has been fantastic. The conditions were perfect and the races exciting with a strong competition.” Also Mitch Booth enjoyed his week: “This event is the real meaning of beach cat sailing. There are not many regatta’s in the world, where you have these nice and consistent conditions.” The boats are in the container now, ready for transport to Europe. The prize giving will be in the evening at Moomba Beach.

Top five big catamarans after ten races and two discards:
1. NED – F18: Booth/Nieuwenhuis, 12 points
2. GBR – F18: Gummer/Burke, 20 points
3. GBR – F18: Power/Power, 33 points
4. NED – F18: Samama/Buyse, 33 points
5. GBR – Spitfire: Sproat/Burke, 43,5 points

Top three small catamarans after ten races and two discards:
1. NED – Dart 18: Rijks/Liefhebber, 8 points
2. NED – Dart 18: Van Gorp/Van Gisbergen, 20 points
3. AUT – Dart 18: Thomasch/Hankart, 21 points Diana Bogaards

Image © Steve Arkley/Sailshots


Last Updated ( Saturday, 18 November 2006 )