Dominic, Jan & Olivier Bakker…. Belgium Champions!

The Belgium National Championships were completed in Ostend after 5 tough races between 5th-8th August in mostly windy conditions. The Royal North Sea Yacht Club local Race Officer Dirk Sledsens made some excellent decisions of when to go out during this blustery championships. On day 1 he postponed until 4pm, then a nice breeze arrived at 5pm allowing the fleet to have a perfect race. This opening race was won by newcomer to the fleet Bart Peeters who borrowed GER 1086 for the event, crewed by Remco & Berend van den Berg. 2nd was NED 438 Jan Bakker & 3rd BEL 88 Guy Celis.

Winners of Race 1 GER 1086 Bart Peeters, Berend & Remco van den Berg.

On day 2 the wind really picked up and Race Officer Dirk Sledsens decided to give it a try for just one race. In the strong conditions just 6 boats managed to complete the course of the 18 boat fleet, (several teams elected not to go out) with line honours once again going to GER 1086, 2nd was BEL 80 Ben Cauwenbergh & 3rd NED 438 Jan Bakker.

Winners of Race 2 GER 1086 Bart Peeters, Remco & Berend van den Berg.

On day 3 the winds moderated to 18-20kts so 3 races were sailed and enjoyed by all, in particular NED 438. This is when the Bakker Family took control and won all 3 races, whilst GER 1086 began to have a few problems and unfortunately dropped completely out of contention, during race 4. However, this was an excellent introduction to the class for Bart so l hope we see a lot more of him in the future.

NED 438 Jan, Olivier & Dominic win races 3, 4 & 5 !

It was a Hat Trick of wins for this popular and very skilful Dutch Team who have spent time-on-the-water whenever possible during the pandemic. Their practice on “Aalsmeer” Lake situated just 13km south west of Amsterdam, continues to pay dividends with boat handling and general team work. I asked Jan about his success in Belgium, he told me “Having more than 10 years regatta experience with Dom & Olivier, it feels very comfortable to race. Everything is perfectly under control, Olivier as tactician upwind and Dom calling the shots downwind. As a helmsman it allows you to fully concentrate on your task, whilst having full confidence in the guys. It makes me feel very proud, moreover since they are very sociable, having friends all over the Dragon Class. They are joining Ben van Cauwenbergh (BEL 80) for the Gold Cup next week in Marstrand and l think Ben will be very happy to have them on board”. Well said Jan, l agree with you 100%. Having raced many times with your Sons they are a fantastic team.

NED 438 “BELGIUM CHAMPIONS” sending it upwind in 20+ kts.

Whilst the Bakkers were proving too hot to handle the rest of the fleet battled it out for the other podium positions. Leading the challenge was BEL 80 Ben Cauwenbergh, crewed by Manu Hens & Yves Bassett. They recorded 4, 2 & 2 on the Saturday just ahead of BEL 79 Alex Henson, Floris Mortelmans & Dries van den Abbeele with a 2, 3 & 4.

On Sunday the wind was too strong again for the final race.

This consistent sailing from both teams resulted in 2nd overall for BEL 80 and 3rd overall for BEL 79.

Runners up BEL 80 Yves Bassett, Ben Cauwenbergh & Manu Hens.

3rd overall BEL 79 Alex Helsen, Floris Mortelmans & Dries van den Abbeele.

4th overall and continuing to improve after spending recent winters down in Portugal was BEL 88 Guy Celis, crewed by Willy Hambrouck & Steven Vermeire. Guy up graded his “White Pearl” to a Petticrows V6 last year and is really enjoying his new success. Well done.

4th overall Guy Celis, Willy Hambrouck & Steven Vermeire.

5th overall was Bram de Wilde…. Who shows such strength and determination as he continues to recover from a health scare that had the whole fleet worried a couple of seasons ago. I’ve known Bram for many years and with the loving support of his wife Brigette and his loyal crew George Etty & Maarten Ruijtenberg he continues to battle against all odds and compete once again at the highest level.

5th overall NED 409 Abram de Wilde, with George Etty & Maarten Ruijtenberg.

So there we have it, another Belgium National Championship completed on the very waters in Ostend where the 2022 Gold Cup will be sailed. The Royal North Sea Yacht Club have a terrific number of helpers and volunteers, plus an excellent Race Officer (Dirk).
In closing congratulations once again to all the podium teams and I’m sure many International Sailors are looking forward to returning next year during August to enjoy the Belgium hospitality at the prestigious Gold Cup…..

Higher, Faster, Longer…….  Stavros.