The popular Caribbean Women’s Keelboat Championships was a sparser affair for the sixth edition, not least because it took place during the United States Keelboat Championships. Bereft of serial winner Emma Paull from the BVI, the regatta crowned a new champion, and a local St Maarten one at that. With eight wins from 12 races, Kim Frye and crew aboard FKG Rigging, were worthy champions.
Just six teams took part, four of whom came from the local pool: Frye’s FKG Rigging, Lyn Rapley’s Necol, Janneke Browe’s Bright and Beautiful, and Annette van der Zee’s Budget Marine. Outside competition came in the form of Penny McIntyre’s Women ‘n Construction from Barbados and a team of Trinidad and Tobago teenagers who had traveled up the island chain to get away from their usual 420 racing in favor of some keelboat action.
Of the activity out on the lagoon, the statistics speak for themselves: FKG Rigging had fired off five consecutive bullets before Budget Marine could reply in race six. Unruffled, Frye reclaimed the podium for races seven and eight.
Racing in the fleet of Jeanneau Sunfast 21s was tighter on Sunday, for four more races. "We battered everybody yesterday," said Frye before Sunday’s awards ceremony, "Then they got in a bit of practice and today they gave it all back today. There was much more of a mix up, which is more fun. Today everyone gave as good as they got yesterday."
Second place overall went to Women n’ Construction, third to Budget Marine, fourth to Necol, fifth to Bright and Beautiful and sixth to Team Trinidad.
The victory is a just reward for Frye, who previously sailed under The Scuba Shop’s colors. A perennial campaigner on the St Maarten circuit, with 15 years’ experience sailing with crewmember Janet Robertson, Frye applied local knowledge to bring the trophy home.
With just half a dozen crews competing, this year’s regatta was unable to reach the heights of previous editions, but still manages to throw up a story every year. The Trinidad crew, some of whom were as young as 13 years old, delighted the seasoned sailors, while Frye’s victory rightly rewarded a captain and crew who have spent hundreds of hours over the years criss-crossing the Simpson Bay Lagoon on the Jeanneau one-design boat.
The T& T Team: Looking Forward to Next Year
While most Women’s teams had an average age of 40, team Trinidad and Tobago, led by skipper Megan Chan Chow with crewmembers Ella Bayne, Nephema Callender, and Rushell Rousseau was by far the youngest team to compete at this regatta with an average age of 15.
Seasoned sailors from St. Maarten and Barbados gave team T&T had a hard time from the start, by preventing the young sailors from getting a good position at the starting line. With every race the youngsters got more used to the wind conditions in the lagoon and the keelboats they were using, which translated in three Fifth positions after eight races on the first day.
On the second day the girls showed a lot of improvement, fighting hard to hold their position. However due to lack of experience the girls were not able to maintain their standing and finished Sixth overall.
Thanks to the financial support from Telly Paul General Insurance Services Limited, Budget Marine, the Public Transport Services Corporation, All Dive & Marine and the Sports Company of Trinidad & Tobago Limited, the youth sailors from T&T learned a lot—and are already looking forward to competing again next year.
–Esther van Santen, Senior Administrative Coach, Trinidad and Tobago Youth Sailing School