“The conditions were the exact opposite of last year,” said St Lucia’s Mike Green who’s winning ways in Bequia’s Sailing festival J24 class seems to know no bounds. Green and the Grayling five-man crew repeated last year’s victory winning five of the six events. “The light winds which took the place of the 30 knot gusts of 2005 made for some interesting racing!”
In all five entrants from St Lucia took part in Bequia’s Sailing Club’s 25th Anniversary Easter Regatta. Hot Chocolate in Cruising Class II and Grayling, Jabal, Loose Cannon and Team B-Mobile in the J24 class.
St Lucia Yacht Club’s (SLYC) Fashionable Frank Capers and Loose Cannon couldn’t repeat the form which brought him home first in SLYC’s Christmas Festival but he was awarded an ivory handled knife and a sort of sailing ambassadorial role for his part in promoting the J24 resurgence and rightly so.
Bequia appears to grow in numbers each year with 2006 being no exception even though traditionally, a late April Easter means a lower turnout.
Competitors came from Trinidad, St. Lucia, Antigua, Grenada, Martinique, Barbados, St. Vincent, US Virgin Islands, Canada, England, Norway and the USA, often accompanied by followers and supporters from around the region, which greatly added to the number of yachts crowding Admiralty Bay. On the local boat side, joining the fleet of 22 Bequia boats were 12 from the Grenadine islands—six boats from Canouan, a record five boats from Carriacou, and one boat from Mayreau.
Despite unseasonably light airs, competitors adapted to the conditions and produced a final day of closely fought racing on Easter Monday. In the local boat division, Hurricane from Carriacou skippered by Benson Patrice was overall winner in the 28ft Class, and to delight of her many followers. Iron Duke, the newly rebuilt 130-year-old whale boat ably skippered by Junior Hazell took first overall in her Class 6.
The wind gave out altogether in one of the Saturday’s races when no-one finished before the 4 o’clock time limit, the final day of racing on Monday left the field wide open with results incredibly close with no less than four ties in the overall standings. Winning boats in the four classes came from Grenada, Antigua, Trinidad and St. Lucia.
Saint Vincent & the Grenadines was represented by three boats Jos and Beowolf in Cruising Class I, both owned by local businessman Kelly Glass, and Bequian Nicky Hazell’s Nicola which who took 6th overall in Cruising Class II. The newly formed J24 class was hailed as a huge success by the competitors as they raced a six-race series over shorter courses than the rest of the fleet. Mike Green made it back to back wins sailing Grayling into the headlines once again.
The eight regional boats competing in this class represented the largest gathering of J24s in the southern Caribbean for many years and this represents a triumph for the Bequia Sailing Club Yacht Race Committee.
On a final note St Lucia’s J24 ambassador, Frank Capers, says Loose Cannon is up for sale for around $US10,000. I’m not sure if he’ll throw in the ivory knife or the trendy jumpers that made Fashionable Frank the sartorial legend he surely is!