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18th St. Martin Open Caribbean Laser Championship

Antigua’s Karl James extended his
domination of Caribbean Laser Sailing in June’s St Maarten Laser Championships,
emerging victorious for a fifth consecutive time. The seemingly laid-back
Antiguan often comes away from these tournaments with more bullets than
Charlton Heston, but on this occasion the opposition had him ruffled and he was
pushed hard until the very last race.

An impressive ten participating nations came to Orient Bay to enjoy the
steady 15 to 20 knot onshore breeze and challenging surf. Sponsored by Carib,
the Laser Championships reached the age of majority with representative s from
Antigua, BVI, Dominican Republic, St Barths, Bermuda, St Croix, St Maarten and
beyond.

For once, James didn’t come to the tournament as outright favourite.
Having spent a year on big boats, the Antiguan made the odds longer by opting
to rent a Laser on the island instead of bringing a self-customised rig. Losing
his security deposit wasn’t the only worry from there on. 24-year-old Raul
Aguayo from the Dominican Republic, who came to St Maarten for the 2003 Sunfish
World Championships, combined with Bermuda’s Brett Wright to snap at James’
transom throughout the weekend. Stiff winds made for energy-sapping conditions
that eventually put paid to Aguayo’s challenge, but scores were close enough
going into the final race to provide a head-to-head between James and Wright.
Part of being a champion, particularly a five-time one, is knowing when to make
it count, and James put in a winning performance to hold off Wright on both the
windward and leeward legs to secure victory overall.

In the Radial category, Tortola’s Emma Paul came out tops ahead of
Robbie Ferron and David De Vries.

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