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Caribbean News – Feb 06

Moorings parent company sold to Sunsail owner

Hans Birkholz, president and chief operating officer of Grand Expeditions, parent company of The Moorings since 2001, held a news conference in mid-December to announce that the charter yacht firm has a new owner, following UK-based First Choice Holidays PLC’s acquisition of Grand Expeditions. First Choice Holidays PLC bought Sunsail, which also operates worldwide yacht charters, in 1999.

The Moorings began serving the British Virgin Islands in 1969 and is now based in Clearwater, Florida. The company offers international sailing holidays but its largest destination region is the Caribbean and its largest base are Tortola.

Both Sunsail and The Moorings will be grouped under the Grand Expeditions corporate umbrella and will continue to operate separately with Lex Raas as president of The Moorings and Peter Cochran as president of Sunsail.

“There are no planned redundancies; we have strong local teams and we want to continue to build on them,” said Birkholz.

Barbados completes 2005 National Dinghy Championship series

Between September and November, Barbados staged its 2005 National Dinghy Championships with eight regattas in Carlisle Bay at the south west corner of the island.

Thirteen-year-old Christiane Dash received the Dr. A.W. Trieloff Memorial Trophy, given annually to the junior sailor showing the most improvement, an excellent attitude and all round sportsmanship throughout the Championships.

Dash placed third overall in the female-dominated Optimist Gold fleet for the more experienced youngsters. Winner of this class was Sarah Douglas. Amy Cox finished in second place overall and all three will represent Barbados in the Optimist North American Championships to be held in Puerto Rico in July 2006.

Fierce competition was seen in two Laser classes with up to eighteen boats participating each week.

The Championships were sponsored by the Barbados Olympic Association, R.M.J. Agencies Inc. and Pine Hill Dairy. In 2006, sailing courses for novices up to more experienced sailors are being held every Saturday. For more information, e-mail info@sailbarbados.com or log on towww.sailbarbados.com.

St. Thomas/St. Croix ferry service slated for February

Managing partner and majority owner Robert C. Siebengartner announced in late December that his new company, Island Lynx, will begin a long-awaited year-round ferry service between St. Thomas and St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands in February 2006 aboard The M/V Quelbe.

The vessel, coming from Egypt, will carry 308 passengers, up to 12 vehicles, and freight according to original reports from company officials, who also project eventual service to Tortola and Vieques.

After initial reports that Island Lynx service would begin in December 2005, the Boston Harbor Cruises-owned V.I. Fast Ferry, Salacia, which operated between St. Thomas and St. Croix for the past winter six seasons, announced it would not be back this year.

“The principals of Island Lynx remain committed to meeting the inter-island transportation needs of the people of the U.S. Virgin Islands, and to providing a new and exciting link to the British Virgin Islands and Vieques, Puerto Rico,” said Siebengartner.

For more information on St. Croix-based Island Lynx: (340) 642-9454.

Trinidadian Jesse James receives Southbound II award in Florida

Two hundred members of the Seven Seas Cruising Association presented Jesse James with the SSCA Southbound II Blue-Water Sailing Service Award in Melbourne, Florida at the November SSCA annual meeting. The award is given annually to individuals whose volunteer efforts render a valuable service to the wellbeing of world-traveling blue water cruisers.

James operates Members-Only Maxi Taxi Services out of Chaguaramas, Trinidad, and was cited for his concerned help to visiting cruisers in times of need including aiding with emergency medical attention. His volunteer efforts include humanitarian services to Venezuela and Grenada hurricane and flood relief.

Seven Seas Sailing Association (SSCA) was founded in 1952 by California liveaboard sailors and today has almost 10,000 members with headquarters in Fort Lauderdale, Florida USA. www.ssca.org

Race celebrates Cooper Island Beach Club’s silver anniversary

The Cooper Island race for the Silver Jubilee Cup was held on Saturday December 10, 2005 as part of celebrations marking the British Virgin Islands resort’s 25th anniversary of operation. First Prize was a champagne-filled Silver Cup and a $500 donation to the charity of choice of the winning skipper.

After a fun race for the seven boats participating, it was the animals that won— Fiona skipper Colin Rathburn’s charity of choice was the Humane Society. Chris Tilling and Toby Holmes from Cooper Island Beach Club were on hand to present the Silver Cup and prizes.

VISAR and U.S. Coast Guard conduct rescue training

Virgin Islands Search and Rescue (VISAR) and the U.S. Coast Guard recently held helicopter rescue training in the British Virgin Islands to familiarize VISAR boat crews with Coast Guard rescue techniques. The two-day training session focused on hoisting people from a moving rescue boat into the safety of a Coast Guard helicopter with both the helicopter and the rescue boat moving forward at the same speed (around 15 knots).

Trainees achieved 111 simulated rescue hoists using baskets lowered from helicopter to boat.

VISAR is a voluntary organization dedicated to saving life at sea. It is the officially recognized search and rescue service in the British Virgin Islands, where it provides 24-hour cover every day of the year. All active crewmembers are required to participate in regular training sessions, in all weather conditions. For further information about VISAR: www.visar.org.

Heineken to sponsor Culebra regatta

The second race of the CORT series (Caribbean Ocean Racing Triangle) on March 17 – 19 is now named the Culebra Heineken International Regatta, according to director Angel Ayala. The CORT series will start with the St. Croix International Regatta February 18-20 and end with the British Virgin Islands Spring Regatta March 31 – April 2.

“We had 34 big boats last year and were already expecting to at least double it due to CORT,” said Ayala, adding that Heineken’s sponsorship will generate even more interest. For information call 787-635-2979 or 787-413-7702.

In other Heineken news, on March 3 – 5, the 26th annual St. Maarten Heineken Regatta will present three-time Grammy® Award-winning artists, Ozomatli, for the final night’s headline performance.

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