Perhaps it was the Atlantic Rally for Cruisers’ (ARC) week-late start or the hard crossing they endured, maybe even the unrelenting 25 to 30-knot trade winds which caused a decline in entries in their fourth staging of the St Lucia Christmas Sailing Festival. However, ask anyone who took part, watched, or just tagged along how it felt to be part of it and you’ll get one answer…fun!
Gold sponsors such as Diamond International, Discovery, Landings, Heineken, Cable & Wireless, Bank of St Lucia International and Sunset Harbor must have been delighted at the well-run three-day affair. There might have been a shortage of entrants but the social side of the event boomed.
“It’s a good, friendly Caribbean regatta,” said SLYC’s Ted Bull, who was awarded the title of honorary bosun by the club for his services, both for yachting and SLYC. In his usual position at the start (and end) of each race at the top SLYC’s stairs he said, “I feel very honored and happy about the recognition, but there are members who’ve done more and if you want to know what a bosun does look it up in the dictionary!”
Day one saw Whitea, Twist and X Factor compete in the racing class. Attitude, Loose Cannon and Grayling in the J24’s and Barkas, Onyx, Sara II and Temptation in the Fun/Cruising Class, ten boats in all.
The blustery 25-30 knot trade winds made for some lively racing with the evergreen ‘fashionable’ Frank ‘J24’ Capers skippering Loose Cannon (he won the event last year) popping a spinnaker around the first orange marker and showing a clean keel for the rest of the race. He eventually won by a massive 19 minutes . . . a taste of more to come. Loose Cannon remained unbeaten throughout the festival finishing with five straight wins—and to think he had to be coaxed from retirement!
X-factor emulated Loose Cannon, finishing first in all of her five outings in the racing class, with Whitea (who won the best dressed crew) finishing second throughout the event, and the ARC’s favorite boat, Twist, bringing up the rear.
In the Fun/Cruising Class it was Sara II who took the honors from the run down to Marigot Bay. In the final day’s fancy dress sail past, and themed as Pirates of the Caribbean, they tied with Barkas (dressed as Diamonds International, which should keep one of the sponsors happy) for first place. Barkus also finished first in the treasure hunt.
Despite allegations of cracker dropping and forgetfulness at the start of the fun race start (crews had to eat seven crackers and drink a bottle of coke if they were on hand, they were but only just), SLYC official and musician Michael Bryant forgot both and had to buy more; he said: “I forgot!” Fair enough!
Entertainment over the three days was superb. First night was a reception at Marigot with finger food, followed by an excellent buffet with fire eater and limbo dancing—yes, he could do both. Second night was a local chak chak band back at SLYC followed by some excellent music and an open-air buffet.
“We’re going to present the prizes based on an FA cup theme” said Aston Villa fan and cracker-dropper Michael Bryant. “We’ll call the winning crews’ names and award the prizes in the club,” he told the assembled crowd in front of SLYC’s Reduit beach home . . . the smell of the roast pork BBQ to come heavy in the air. Space limits all the prizes and their captors, however, as the sun set on the final day and the Harmonites steel band banged out a Caribbean version of “Simply the best”… who could argue…next year? As they say around here, for sure, for sure!