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J-24’s Jostle for Position in Carriacou Sailing Series 2006

Held from 8 to 11 November 2006, this series was again a memorable experience: flat seas and medium to light wind, varying in direction; the tranquility of Carriacou providing a perfect backdrop; a lobster feast on the beach and a hair-raising ride on a tractor trailer with Peter Peake as maniac driver; excellent race committee work by race officer James Benoit and the crew on Sea Shak and Neppie; Optimist dinghies bobbing about; and friendly gatherings ashore after the action.  What more could one want?

The six boats in the J-24 Class, one from Carriacou, two from Grenada, two from Trinidad and one from St Lucia, jostled for top place in what the organizers like to call the “unofficial J-24 Caribbean Championship”.  Six up and down races put the teams through their paces with racing so close that positions changed all the time and mere seconds divided finishing times. In one race four boats reached the finish line at almost the same moment.  

HOIC from Carriacou (skipper Jerry Stewart) sailed very well to take 1st place.  Two tie breaks put Tempest from Grenada (skipper Mark Solomon) and Jahaji Bhai from Trinidad (skipper James Arrindell) 2nd and 3rd respectively, and Blue by You and Banana Wind, 4th and 5th respectively.

Getting these small boats to Carriacou is an exhausting feat in itself and demonstrates the tenacity and commitment of the crews.  One of the J’s had the unfortunate experience of grounding off Mabouya as she approached Carriacou at night. This reef has apparently caught a number of boats unaware, but thanks to the quick and competent response of the “Wayward Rescue Team” on Neppie, the J was hauled off the rocks with no physical injury to the crew, and rudder and hull damage sustained could be repaired in time for her to compete in the series.

In Racer Cruiser Class 1, the bigger boats battled to get up to boat speed in the light conditions, trying various tactics to outpace the others.  The courses were successfully tweaked to favour more tactical racing than in previous years.  Convincing overall winner was Wayward (skipper Jerome Mc Quilken) with Storm (skipper Peter Peake) second, sailing way ahead of the fleet against the clock.  Survivor (skipper David Leighton) performed consistently, defeating challenges from the likes of Petit Careme and After Hours to place 3rd.  In the small Cruiser Class it was a clear cut result with Lloyd De Roche on Nirvana 1st in all three races, including a course that went around the island, followed by Business Machine 2nd and Blurred Vision 3rd.

For Trini sailors, this sailing series is the “kick off” for the Trinidad & Tobago racing season, which ends with the Angostura Tobago Sailing Week in May, and a flurry of preparation precedes the trip up to Carriacou.  In the 2006 off season however, up to 13 boats could be seen out on the water at TTSA for the Heineken sponsored Sunday fun races, demonstrating a depth of interest in the sport and pointing to a competitive racing season ahead.

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