ORIENT BAY--A reduced fleet of participants took part in the first race of the 2022 Caribbean Foiling Championships in Orient Bay on Friday however further races that day had to be abandoned due to the wind dropping.
The weekend forecast of light winds and high swells has made it challenging for organisers Maxim van den Pol and Sacha van der Wouden for this third edition but they have an alternative programme in place.
‘’We tried to make the most of the morning and go full force on the races for this first day,” they said.
Safety briefing took place at 8.30 am and participants geared up feeling motivated to race.
‘’We are ready to give it a try’’ said Aurélie Garreau from neighbouring St. Barthelemy competing in Kite Foil pro class along with Julien Quentel, the winner of last year’s edition.
Club Wind Adventures provided assistance to racers to pass the shore break especially for the younger ones. The bay filled up with kites and wings and the race was launched by Sacha Daunar, an experienced Race Official for the French Sailing Federation of Guadeloupe. Unfortunately, after one race the wind dropped and racers had to come back to shore.
The 45 registered contestants were called a couple of days prior to the race to explain about the wind conditions. This turnout shows that interest is growing and that Caribbean Foiling Championships is the biggest kite and wind foil competition in the Caribbean.
However, half the participants decided to postpone until next year to have maximum chances of racing. The race is officially accredited by the French Sailing Federation and participants gain points in the world circuit if three races are validated.
Tiger Tyson from Antigua, who is training to represent his country in the Olympics had to postpone, but pointed out that the Caribbean Foiling Championships is one of his favourite races of the year, being a friendly and fun event.
Young riders are well represented with an entire family from Guadeloupe and Bonaire.
‘’We have never foiled in waves’’ said the De Jong sisters of 12 and 14 years old, who normally train in the Bonaire lagoon at the Jibe City spot with flat waters and who are competing in the wing foil section.
Sacha Fortune (17) is participating in the French Espoirs Championship for his Guadeloupe club and is the only racer in the wind foil category but is still happy to have made the trip to St. Martin to train and meet with other racers.
The event is sponsored by the St. Martin Tourism Office to showcase the island as a water sports’ destination. It’s also an eco-friendly event with no single use plastic allowed, water refill stations and sunscreen provided for contestants by the local brand St Maarten Nectar.