The Caribbean Sailing Association (CSA) is withdrawing from the business of running a regatta and taking the best of both worlds. They have done this by awarding the time-honored Caribbean Dinghy Championships (CDC) to the same island for three years while at the same time leaving the door open for the event to travel to other islands as it has in the past. This year’s CDC will be organized and hosted by the Antigua Yacht Club and Antigua’s National Sailing Academy on November 15 to 17 2013.
“We felt the event needed more continuity and set dates to enable people to schedule and plan in advance in an effort to encourage better participation,” explains Kathy Lammers, CSA board member. “The plan is to hold the CDC in Antigua (this makes Antigua’s third year having hosted the CDC in 2011 and 2012) and then look at other viable venues, including Antigua. Antigua is well equipped with a variety of different dinghies and it is centrally located in the Eastern Caribbean and relatively easy for everyone to get to.”
This change means the CDC is now CSA-sanctioned rather than a CSA-organized event. In addition to administering the CSA rating rule, one of the CSA’s goals is to promote and encourage dinghy sailing throughout the Caribbean. The CDC does this by bringing sailors together from around the Caribbean to compete in a variety of dinghies. This year’s event sees teams of mixed age groups from juniors to senior’s race in Laser Open, Laser Radial, Zoom 8, Optimist and Laser Pico classes.
While the CDC is raced in small boats, it has had a very large impact on launching the careers of Caribbean sailors.
“Numerous sailors who teethed on the CDCs in their youth, have gone on to represent their respective countries at World Championships, at the Central American and Caribbean Games, Commonwealth and Pan Am Games, as well as the pinnacle series – the Olympic campaigns,” explains CSA board member, Penny McIntyre from Barbados.
Barbados has a longstanding history – spanning upwards of 40 years – with the present day CDC, which had its beginning in the 1970s with Bajan and regional sailors competing in wooden Mirror dinghies in Jamaica and St. Vincent. Since 1985, seven islands have hosted the CDC including Barbados and St. Croix.
Karen Stanton, past commodore of the St. Croix Yacht Club, who has sent each of her three sons to other islands to compete in the CDC says, “The whole concept of the regatta moving from island to island is unique. Actually, it gives a chance to sailors who don’t have parents sending them all over the world. The sailors with limited resources get to go to an island as a team and hope to bring back a team trophy.”
“With the watery distance between the islands and the often exorbitant cost of inter-island transportation, it may be easier to keep the CDCs on one island such as Antigua, so that the costs of attending the regatta do not drastically change from year to year, along with the location,” Barbados’ McIntyre says. “This may better allow for more Caribbean nations to plan their fundraising. Hopefully, other nations will step forward in the coming years, as it is a great way for youth sailors to see more of the region, but if Antigua prove themselves yet again this November, there may be no need to change the venue each year.”