The third edition of the 2022 Caribbean Foiling Championships took place during the second weekend of December in Orient Bay, Saint Martin. There was a reduced fleet of participants due to the lack of wind. The forecast of light winds and high swells made it challenging for Dutch organisers Sacha van der Wouden and Maxim van den Pol, but they had prepared an alternative programme in anticipation.
Competing in the Kite Foil Pro Class was Aurélie Garreau from St. Barthelemy along with Julien Quentel from St. Martin, the winner of last year’s edition. Both knew that only the Friday would give them some reasonable winds. Orient Beach Wind Adventures assisted the racers and helped the younger ones to pass the shore break. The bay filled up with kites and wings and the race was launched by Sacha Daunar, an experienced race official and sailboat competitor for the French Sailing Federation of Guadeloupe. After the first race, the wind dropped and everyone had to come back to shore.
Almost fifty contestants received phone calls a couple of days before the race to inform them about the low wind conditions and half the participants postponed until next year. Nevertheless, it was evident from the turnout that interest is still growing and that the Caribbean Foiling Championships are the largest kite and wind foil competition in the Caribbean.
The competition is officially accredited by the French Sailing Federation, and participants gain points in the world circuit if three races are validated. It was remarkable that many young kids attended with their entire families from places such as Guadeloupe and Bonaire. The three De Jong sisters, who are mainly trained in windsurfing on the flat waters of Bonaire lagoon, are now competing in Orient in the wing foil section. Another youngster, Sacha Fortune (17), participated in the French Espoirs Championship for the Guadeloupe club and was the only racer in the wind foil category in St. Martin this time. But it gave her a good opportunity to meet with the other watersport enthusiasts.
The Caribbean Foiling Championships is an eco-friendly event with no single-use plastic allowed. It is co-sponsored by the St. Martin Tourism Office to showcase the island as a watersport destination.
Rendez-vous again next year – hopefully with lots of wind!
By The Islander
Photos by Jean Jarreau
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