Hope Town Sailing Club, Abaco, Bahamas

Junior Sailing Programs and News

Sue Holloway reports this amazing news for Junior Sailing: NEW OPTIS FOR HOPE TOWN!

The 2019 Opti North American Championships were held in Nassau in late September, and two of our HTJS kids sailed on the Bahamas National Team. The OPTINAM organizers, the sailing teams from around the world, and the Bahamas Sailing Association all wanted to show their support for Hope Town, which had lost so much in the hurricane.

As a result, Hope Town Junior Sailing has received word that six new Optis are waiting in Nassau for delivery to Hope Town. Robert Dunkley, Director of the Bahamas National Sailing School, reported:

"Through donations from the various teams and assistance from BSA, we have secured 6new boats for Hope Town Junior Sailing, fully equipped with blades, spars, sails, lines, and dollies - all ready to be sailed. The Japanese donated the sails which are slightly used race sails. We have put these in storage in a container and when your club is ready for them, we will ship them to you."

This a wonderful news, and a testament to the close-knit sailing community not just in the Bahamas, but around the

The 2019 Opti North American (OPTINAM) Championship Regatta

The regatta was recently held in Nassau. For results go to:


Below is a link to the
 fantastic Scuttlebutt article about the Opti North Americans that were held in late September, and what the participating countries did to help the affected Bahamian sailors and their junior sailing programs. HTSC members’ donations over the years have made a program that a hurricane can't knock down!

Below is the Facebook video of Jasmin, Maison, and Rhiannon being interviewed at the OPTINAM Championship Races, for the Nassau Guardian:

REPORT ON THE 2019 OPTI NATIONALS by Rhiannon Thomas


The Opti Nationals were recently held in Nassau. The conditions were brutal for some, but perfect for others. Incredibly light winds (JUST enough to hold races) and HOT! Four races on Saturday and two on Sunday. The championship fleet had 53 competitors and our very own Jasmin Aberle placed 4th overall and Maison Koepke 7th overall, and in the championship red fleet Jasmin 2nd and Maison 5th! Dawson Thompson and Rachel Sands really struggled with the extreme light conditions and unfortunately Jack Guinness’s flight from Maine was canceled on Friday, and he didn’t arrive until the afternoon on Saturday and managed to get only 3 races in all weekend.


It’s at times like these where the blood, sweat (and there’s plenty of that this time of year) and tears makes it all worth-while. Coach Branden Sands and I are so incredibly proud of each and every one of these kids. It’s been amazing to watch them grow and develop and mature after each regatta. And improve their skills by leaps and bounds! JASMIN!!!! This is only her 5th regatta!!!! EVER!!! She placed second in one of the races just behind Joshua Weech (who usually wins every race)! She was ahead of him until the downwind leg just before going through the gate, and that’s when Joshua passed her and managed to hold the lead!!!


Thanks everyone for all the work that’s put into HTJS. Now we wait to hear about who has been chosen to be on the Bahamian team for the Opti North American Championships!!!


Footnote: Since this was written, HTJS has learned that Jasmin Aberle & Maison Koepke have qualified for the 14 places on the Bahamas OPTINAM Team, placing 5th & 8th respectively!




The Bahamas National Sailing School and Nassau Yacht Club hosted The Bahamas Olympic Youth Regatta April 26-27. Opti sailors from around The Bahamas competed in round two of three qualifying regattas for the Opti North American Championships (OPTINAM) to be held September 27 – October 4 in Montegu Bay. It will be the biggest international youth event ever in the Bahamas, in which teams from over 20 countries will participate.


Normally each country would only get four kids on a team for OPTINAM, but this year, as hosts, Team Bahamas gets an additional 10 spots, so the top 14 junior sailors from the three qualifying regattas have an opportunity.


Hope Town Junior Sailing sent 5 sailors to the April regatta, and they all did extremely well in the crowded 39-boat fleet. After a first day with 17+ knot winds, Sunday’s second race had to be cancelled due to drifting conditions! In the overall results, Jack Guinness placed 2nd, Jasmine Aberle 9th, Dawson Thompson 12th, Maison Koepke 13th, and Rachel Sands, 17th.

The next and last qualifying regatta will be the Opti Nationals in Nassau on June 22-23. This regatta counts 50% towards qualification for Team Bahamas.


A lot of credit goes to Rhiannon Thomas, one of the Hope Town Junior Sailing instructors, who has organized the effort since January, and has chaperoned the team at the regattas. And the kids’ success on the race course this year is due to Branden Sands, himself a Hope Town Junior Sailor and 2015 Opti National Champion, who coached the team at special race clinics held during the winter and spring.

Abaco Sailors Compete in Nassau – by Rhiannon Thomas


Over the weekend of March 9th, the Bahamas Sailing Association hosted the KPMG regatta at the Nassau Yacht Club. Hope Town Junior Sailing represented Abaco with 4 sailors, our coach, Branden Sands, and myself as chaperone.


It was a fantastic weekend with some incredibly challenging races due to heavy winds and high seas on day 1, but our sailors persevered and 3 out of 4 managed to place in the top 10 out of 38! Unfortunate gear failure for Dawson Thomson on the first day prevented him from finishing several races which placed him in the bottom of the fleet overall. With sustained winds of 18+ knots and gusting up to 23 knots, Dawson managed to be in the middle of the fleet until his rudder broke and he lost steering. Jasmin Aberle continued to finish all races despite capsizing during several of the races on day one. Her overall placement out of 38 boats in the Championship fleet was 10th, also being the top female sailor. Maison Koepke fought hard each race to consistently place in the top 12 and kept his cool during the heavy winds. His hard work and skills paid off and placed him in a tie for 6th place overall. And Jack Guinness had several consistent races with some excellent starts on nearly each race, which placed him 4th overall. His determination and competitiveness managed to keep his placement right up there in the top 5 finishers including the current champion Joshua Weach.


In September 2019 Nassau will be hosting the Optimist North American Championships OPTINAMS). In order to qualify, sailors throughout The Bahamas have to race in 3 qualifying regattas in order to be chosen for the team which will consist of 14. Thanks to our amazing coach Branden Sands, we feel our Abaco sailors are well on their way to qualifying for Team Bahamas!

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