Joining six local teams in the Budget Nautique Women’s Keelboat Championship this year were crews from seven other Caribbean islands, in what is becoming a decidedly international event. The BVI, St Thomas, St John, St Croix, Barbados, Anguilla and even the Dominican Republic all sent competitors to Uncle Harry’s Bar on Simpson Bay Lagoon, for two days of one-design competition on Jeanneau Sunfast 20s.
Last year’s winner Random Winds, skippered by Stans Goedhart, was not present, but the close competition and fascinating inter-fleet battles returned. Whereas DR’s Casa de Campo team ran away with the Silver Fleet, any of four teams could have won the Gold Fleet going into the final race. As it was, BVI’s Latitude 18, skippered by Emma Paull with Rebecca Paull, Clair Burke and Linda Phillips, overcame a general recall and a penalty turn to snatch victory with an adept rounding of the final mark to jump from third to first. Last year’s surprise Silver Fleet Package St John’s KATS, skippered by Callie Burke, took second place overall with local crew 12 Metre, skippered by Nuala Peters swapping their America’s Cup exploits during the week for third place.
One of the highlights of the silver fleet was the performance of Casa de Campo’s 13-year-old Opie sailor and helmswoman Andrea Verjedas, sailing with Laser specialist Irina Perez de Bross and Ingrid Contreras. The youthful element of this regatta is just one of its attractive features. Otherwise, stiff but good-natured competition, easy to handle boats and an ideal starting spot all combine to draw both competitors and spectators.