Six teams battled at this year’s CSA Dingy Championships hosted by Antigua on July 19 and 20. From Puerto Rico, St. Maarten, Antigua, Barbados, Martinique and Trinidad & Tobago, the participants ranged widely in age and abilities from seven-year-old Antiguan Rocco Falcone, who won a special prize in the Optimist class, to veteran Robbie Ferron from St. Maarten.
This year and for the very first time, the overall team winner was Trinidad and Tobago. Philip Degannes, a sailor of 16 years’ experience who had been coaching the team prior to its victory, reckoned that its success could be attributed to various factors. He cited the influence of various international coaches over the last few years and encouragement from the TTSA (Trinidad & Tobago Sailing Association)—in particular Ester van Santen—and the formation of the TTODA (Trinidad & Tobago Optimist Association) in 2000. He added that he was particularly impressed by the team’s incredible enthusiasm and the many hours they devoted to training in the last three weeks prior to this event. No girls made it onto the team this time round, but next year looks optimistic.
Trinidadians Andrew Lewis and Myles Kaufmann gained first place in the Laser and Optimist races respectively. Martinique’s Nicolas Rendu and Aurelie Bonnet won the Radial and Zoom 8 classes, and Antigua’s Ainsley Rhodes triumphed in the Sport 16 class.
In the team results, Martinique came second and the sartorially-elegant Barbados third. Antigua was fourth, followed by St Maarten and Puerto Rico.
Cary Byerley, President of the CSA Caribbean Sailing Association, was delighted with the organization of the regatta and congratulated all those involved, whether organizers or participants, on all the efforts put into the races. She stressed also the opportunities for forging new friendships in this highly enjoyable sailing context.
The prizes were beautiful blue and turquoise pottery bowls and dishes by Antiguan potter Nancy Nicholson and were presented to the winners by the Commodore of the Antigua Yacht Club, Elizabeth Jordan.
Next year the championships will take place in Martinique and participants were encouraged to brush up their French in order to enjoy this beautiful island to the full.
Biologist and former Eurocrat Gilly Gobinet took up permanent residence on Antigua in the Caribbean in 1984. She has been painting and writing—and sailing—ever since. Her work can be seen at originalcaribbeanart.com