The North American Championships were completed today in beautiful Cozumel, Mexico with excellent conditions and high drama. The event will long be remembered for the local hospitality, breathtaking venue, and camaraderie amongst the young sailors. The event will also be marked by the joyful ending to a rescue at sea by a 13 year old American Techno sailor of an 18 year old Mexican girl in the RS:X class.
Mexico's representative at the Youth Olympic Games, Ignacio "Nacho" Berenger, dominated the T293 Under 17 Class with a near perfect score of bullets across the nine races. The Mexican Federation's investment and coaching of young windsurfers is paying off as they also took the Under 17 Woman (Diana Segura), Under 15 Men (Diego Jimenez), and Under 15 Woman (Daniela Caraveo). The conditions in Cozumel provided excellent preparation for the World Championships at St. Francis YC (CA) in July where over 200 kids are expected.
In an emotional ceremony, Rasmus Sayre (Vineyard Haven, MA) was awarded "Hero of the Regatta" for his outstanding seamanship and sportsmanship in rescuing Nicole Level (Cancun, MX) who ended up winning the RS:X Youth Women and qualifying for the Youth World Champs in Croatia.
It was a dangerous situation on the far outside of the course when the joint between Nicole's board and rig failed, and she lost both her board and rig in the big waves. Nicole was left swimming alone in the strong off shore current, and was wearing no life jacket. "I thought I was going to die," said Level. "I'm never going on the water without a life jacket again." As Rasmus rounded the final turning mark in the Techno 293 fleet, he happened to see a hand frantically waving at the crest of a wave. He immediately dropped out of his first place position in the U15 Techno Class, sailed out to her, and Nicole, completely exhausted, struggled onto Rasmus' board. Rasmus attempted to sail the two of them to shore but was unable in the big waves, and they were being swept further out to sea by the 4 knot current. Luckily, an alert fishing vessel with high lookout tower noticed Rasmus' sail from a distance. The fishing vessel came alongside, and Nicole had regained enough strength to swim to the boat and was taken safely back to shore. Rasmus was then able to sail to shore alone. Nicole's board was never found.
Not just another tropical island . . . No it definitely is not. "Heaven on Earth" - as good as it gets! All agree that week here is definitely not enough. It was a first major event for windsurfing here but definitely not the last. Perfect conditions - warm, not much current, a little wave action, and a good breeze - an incredible "playground" for competitors taking part in the Cozumel 2011 North American Championships.
Everybody wants to come again not only for racing conditions but also for other attractions that the island has to offer.
Top competitors joined the Formula Experience Fleet from Peru, Venezuela and Mexico; eager young hopefuls on the Techno 293 from the USA, Mexico, Guam and Peru; locals competing in the Raceboard fleet; along with a strong RS:X contingent from seven countries.
Peruvian Wilfredo Blondet Cuba took first in the Formula Experience fleet. Second placed Mexican Jose Ordonez pushed him hard and finished just two points behind him. Mexican Eduardo Cano who won the last three races took third place overall.
Nevin Sayre from the USA commented on Techno, "This is the future of the sport, cool to see these young kids ripping out there doing really well in these conditions, and getting ready for the Worlds in San Francisco this summer. Even after three races they are still flying around, still practising, doing a little freestyle, having fun . . . their hands are chaffed but they love it so much they carry on."
Final Results : Techno 293 / FE
View pics here
View the event videos from SVK1pp on YouTube here or:
DAY 4 video : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rEME3eCDRSY
DAY 3 video : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cJQXdEFtqlc
DAY 2 video : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XO6i0s6yy_A
DAY 1 video : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yyC0cVT41qY