It was something of a fluke when 17-year-old St. Lucian Frederic Sweeney discovered the 2006 Laser North American Championships were taking place in Nova Scotia, Canada last summer; he was surfing at the time . . . on the internet! Proving the old adage that, ‘where there’s a will there’s a way,’ his family made the necessary contacts and the lad was duly billeted with the MacMillan family based in St Margaret’s Bay who more or less adopted the young sailor.
Sweeney eventually placed 32, from the 65 competitors after competing in 10 races, his best position being 17th. Given the youngster’s experience, only recently risen from dinghy to Lasers, it’s a remarkable achievement. Plus there’s the change in conditions to take into account. After all, there’s quite a difference between the shimmering Caribbean and donning a wetsuit for a day on the water.
“Sometimes we would race in fog,” said Sweeney, “conditions were very different from what I am used to.” I bet they were! This is the ninth time Canada has played host to this international event, and the first time it was staged east of the province of Ontario. Sweeney wasn’t the only overseas visitor taking part in the event. Ecuador and Europe were also represented and billeted within the community.
But the last word belongs to St Lucia’s rising star. All At Sea asked him what was next on the sailing horizon and he replied: “I’m training with my friend Luis Meixner with a view to competing in the 2008 Olympics.”
Our advice . . . don’t throw the wetsuit away just yet!