Cary Byerly says, “It looks like this year’s Budget Marine Caribbean Women’s One Design Keelboat Championship will be the best yet.” Last year, the event organizer was despondent to end up with only six teams. But as of early July, she is already ahead of the game, with a bevy of international flags coming to fly over St. Maarten waters.
“This regatta is a great opportunity for women sailors in the Caribbean to sail against other women in one design boats at a minimal cost and on very manageable boats,” says sponsor Robbie Ferron of Budget Marine. Participants will compete in a fleet of Jeanneau Sunfast 20s from Lagoon Sailboat Rental.
Byerly says so far, local teams will include Kim Frye, (“They won last year so they have to be ready to defend their title”), Annette van der Zee, and Jannekke Brouwer. And sailors will be coming long distances to take them on.
Teams that have given Byerly early indication of their plans to attend include Penny McIntyre and Renata Goodridge from Barbados. “This is a strong team that has always done well and I know will be out to win, as they have been ‘the bridesmaid’ for two years in a row—and I know they don’t want to be it again for a third,” she says.
Look for the ace team from the British Virgin Islands to return after last year’s absence—they were in Houston, Texas for the 2007 Rolex International Women’s Keelboat Championship (where they placed a respectable 18th out of 39 top international teams.) “Emma Paull has told me she will be back with her team. This team has won this regatta three times in a row,” Byerly points out.
Another sailor returning after an absence is Karen Portch, coming with a team from Antigua, Byerly reports. “Karen won this regatta the very first year we had it…she has not been back for a while so we are delighted to see her return.”
Sailing stars of the future are invited to test their mettle against Caribbean big girls, too. “Team Trinidad and Tobago is definitely participating,” says Senior Administrative Coach of the T&T Sailing School Esther van Santern. “Our youth team had a great time last year and all of them have been looking forward to this event ever since we left St. Maarten in November.”
Van Santern says her girls are hoping there will be other youth teams coming. “If any girls in the Caribbean are interested in participating at this great Women’s regatta please start making arrangements now as team Trinidad & Tobago is looking forward to meet you all, win or loose!” van Santern says.
Also from Trinidad, Nicole Williams will attend the regatta for the first time, Byerly says. “We are delighted that Nicole will be coming with a new team.”
Jane Moon from the Cayman Islands will make her debut at the event, Byerly says. “This will be Jane’s first time at this regatta and I can’t tell you how happy I am to be finally having Jane and a team from Cayman.”
Women will travel from the United States to St. Maarten to participate—Kim Stuart from California will be coming with at least two teams. “Kim came to St.Maarten for the Women’s match racing clinic that we had here last September… liked it here, and thought that it would be fun to come for this regatta.”
Even the U.K. will be represented—Sara Coombes from England will be coming with a team. “This will be Sara’s first time at this regatta. Sailing with Sara will be Deborah Miller.” Byerly says a “maybe”, also from the U.K., is Louise Morton. “If Louise does come this will be her first time here as well.”
Organizers are making hotel arrangements at their usual place, the Travel Inn. Byerly reminds participants that it’s not too soon to think about details. “Please remember that each team needs to have their own team shirts to wear while sailing as identification…think bright, wonderful colours, shapes and patterns.”
Some space still remains. “If you know someone that might like to come, please let them know,” says Byerly. “We have never had a team from Martinique, Jamaica or Puerto Rico…it would be nice to get teams from there. Also, it has been a while since we had a team from the Dominican Republic.”
The Budget Marine Caribbean Women’s One Design Keelboat Championship can accommodate up to 18 teams. To register, email Cary Byerly at [email protected] or call (599) 588-2474.
Chris Goodier is the editorial director of All at Sea. Her freelance articles and photographs have appeared in numerous publications including Caribbean Travel & Life and Caribbean Meetings & Events.