The prowess of some of the best dinghy sailors in the Caribbean was put to the test August 10th to 12th at the annual Caribbean Dinghy Championships, hosted by the Antigua Yacht Club and Caribbean Sailing Association. Four teams hailing from Antigua, Trinidad & Tobago, Barbados and St. Maarten met at the Falmouth Harbour-based Club for a weekend of windy racing thanks to a passing tropical storm. A total of 25 sailors competed in five classes: Laser Standard, Laser Radial, Laser Pico, Optimist and Zoom 8.
Barbados’ Jason Tindale won the Laser Standard Class. Tindale, who has competitively sailed Lasers since 2005, explains, “I placed first in the first three races, but the going got tougher as the wind increased to 30-plus knot gusts. I was overpowered and the heavier Antiguan sailor, Phil Martin, got the upper hand in the next three races. By the end of six races, Phil and I were tied in first place, each with ten points. The next day, the wind was lighter and I managed to pull off three more firsts to win overall. Determination, despite being overpowered by the wind at first, led to my success. I felt I still had a chance to win, so I gave it my all.”
In Laser Radials, it was Trinidad & Tobago’s Wesley Scott who finished with a 12-point lead. Scott struggled in the heavy breeze, but managed five firsts and one second in the first six races. “I was heavier than the other radial sailors in my class and I was able to keep my boat flatter than them,” he says. “The lighter winds the second day meant the lighter sailors were giving me good competition. Because I have gained weight from my training, I’m hoping to move into the Laser Standard soon.”
Antigua’s Rhone Kirby and River Andrews never finished less than second to win in the Laser Pico. Kirby, who has sailed Picos for the past three years, attributes his victory to extra training hours leading up to the event and to his crew. Then, he says, “On the second day, the wind was perfect for us and this just topped off our first days start which led us to the top.”
In the age 11 and under Optimist Class, it was Antigua’s Louis Bavay who triumphed. Bavay came fresh from a busy year sailing in a number of regattas in St. Maarten, Florida, the USVI, BVI and Optimist World Championships in the Dominican Republic. In this event, he recaps, “Each race I started first and finished first far in advance. There was nothing I did special, but I knew all the past year’s experiences would make the difference as well as all the training here at home.”
Lastly, it was Trinidad & Tobago’s Kelly Ann Arrindell who won the Zoom 8 Class. The first day saw Arrindell experience the joy of nearly winning the first race and then scoring a DNF (did not finish) when gusty winds repetitively capsized her boat. “There was no way of me getting back to my boat so the rescue boat had to help me,” she tells. “I was very angry that I got a DNF but I put it behind me and went on to win the next four races. Having placed second last year, I was determined to win the regatta this year and I did. Overall, the racing was great and getting together with all the other sailors from the islands was a lot of fun.”
In team awards, Antigua won (77 points), followed by Team Trinidad second (91 points), Barbados third (98.2 points), and St. Maarten fourth (121 points).
Carol M. Bareuther, RD, is a St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands based marine writer and registered dietitian.