Synergy and Team WAVE received a fantastic homecoming arriving from Bermuda to the Caribbean after making history being the first women’s team to ever win any division of 100th anniversary Newport-Bermuda race in June. They received the inaugural Mitchell Carlton Finnistere trophy for winning the Cruising Division.
Skipper Lea de Haas, Navigator Val Doan and crew/chef extraordinaire Josee Faniel sailed Synergy home and powered by St Maarten bridge to cheers and a heartfelt welcome from friends and supporters waiting at the Yacht Club. The delivery south was tougher than the actual race, with an active trough of squalls and electrical storms and a tropical wave to beat to windward through. Our St Maarten based sponsor Nagico Insurance was on hand, took the crew to a lovely dinner, and have committed to ongoing sponsorship and support.
After converting Synergy from racer back to cruiser, and changing out some rigging that was showing wear after the long sail on virtually the same tack all the way north and back, Lea and Josee sailed to Curacao. They received another wonderful welcome with horns blowing and friends cheering and waving hello. They were treated to another party held by friends and supporters, ended up on the front cover of the local paper, and were interviewed by a number of journalists about the race and Team WAVE, Women Against Violence Everywhere.
Meanwhile, Val flew back to the BVI and held a fundraiser for Team WAVE on the beach at Nanny Cay, with Peg Leg’s Eddie Brockbank and his son Chris running the BBQ and bar. A successful raffle was held with West End Yacht Club Commodore Martin Van Houten handing out prizes from over 30 local businesses who donated goods and services. Suzie Gallienne handed out Catch The Wave bracelets, designed by Slie Ketcham, and collected donations from the crowd. Team WAVE would like to thank everyone who supported our effort and made it such a successful event. Proceeds raised from donations for the bracelets that are available from crew members are earmarked for the Abuse Council of Tortola and St Maarten.
Team WAVE is committed to racing to raise awareness and continuing an ongoing campaign. Community support is greatly appreciated. We are in the planning stages for next year’s events. Lea and Synergy hopes to integrate more St. Maarten women as crew, and Val plans to get more BVI women involved in the race scene, possibly setting up a two boat campaign. Val has already lined up a J44, specifically built for single-handed long distance racing. She is planning on entering the next Newport-Bermuda double-handed division with Becky Paull. There has never been an all-women entry in this division and they hope for another successful campaign for racing to raise awareness.
Women in Racing in the BVI
Now that the Royal BVI Yacht Club has elected Clair Burke as Commodore and Emma Paull is Sailing Captain, it seems the perfect time to help promote more women’s participation in sailing. Bitter End’s Makhail Shamkin plans on expanding their annual Women in Sailing Week held in January to include an International IC 24 Regatta. Sponsor West Marine’s Pam Wall told me in January that they hoped to grow this event to include local Caribbean sailors. Well-known American sailor Martha Parker was one of the original organizers over 14 years ago and continues to promote and participate in this yearly event. Race clinics would be held by her and other top sailors to help participants hone their racing skills before hitting the water.
Colombian Emeralds sponsored the inaugural Women’s Laser event last year in conjunction with the Royal BVI Yacht Club and plan on continuing their support for the next event, possibly in conjunction with Bitter End.
Women who would like to learn to sail or race are encouraged to contact the Royal BVI Yacht Club or get involved with the weekly IC 24 races held out of Nanny Cay. There is a definite need for more women instructors and skippers in the Caribbean. Pat Nolan of Sistership www.sailsistership.com is a BVI based ASA Instructor Evaluator who will organize Instructor certification for those ready to qualify.