Ten crews took to the water of Simpson Bay Lagoon on the first weekend of November for the 5th Budget Marine Women’s Keelboat Regatta. Women they may have been, but as ladies they raced, according to Robbie Ferron, who later commended the ‘style and spirit’ with which this popular championship is contested each year.
This regatta started out in 2002 with a Gold and Silver fleet format, which has now evolved into a single-division affair. 15 races were held in all; each team sailing nine. Local representation came from Necol Racing, FKG and Island 92, with visiting talent from Tortola, St. John, Barbados, the U.S. and a traveling outfit, sponsored by Quantum, based temporarily in St Martin.
To refer to Emma Paull’s Doyle BVI Team as merely ‘visiting talent’, however, vastly undervalues the involvement this crew has with the Women’s Keelboat Championship. Paull returned once again to dominate the event, firing off five bullets in all, to leave second place nine points adrift. This was her third consecutive victory, but her participation is much more than an annual silverware raid, armed with a Jeanneau Sunfast 20. The keelboat regatta is an opportunity to bang heads together, throw ideas around, and drive forward participation.
“I know how hard it is to organize a regatta,” said Paull at the prize giving, “and I’m glad to see so many teams who keep on returning each year.” The climax of her victory speech captured the mood perfectly: “The Caribbean needs more women sailors,” urged Paull. “Travel more, show yourselves out there. We need to grow bigger and bigger.”
Three teams finished in second place, with 25 points, but an analysis of individual results gave second place to Penny McIntyre’s crew from Barbados, third to Lyn Rapley’s Necol Racing, and fourth to Team Carib USA from Texas. The battle for second was indicative of the closeness of competition: all in all, six crews won at least one race. Even Doyle BVI’s victory was no cake-walk, as Paull was pushed hard until the penultimate race.
With more gifts to go round than in a Mormon wedding, the awards ceremony was a convivial affair that typifies the atmosphere of the Women’s Regatta. Organizer and driving force Cary Byerley presented, with some emotion, a special award to Robin Clair from St John, founder of the KATS program. Otherwise, a solid selection of sponsors including Little Switzerland, Budget Marine and Scuba Shop, saw everyone leave with their hands full and smiles broad.