On June 12 and 13 in Orient Bay, 18-year old Dennis van den Berg from CuraÃ§ao won the 21st Caribbean Laser Championships with a faultless run to upstage many seasoned Laser veterans including Antigua's Karl James who placed second in the Open Class and third in the overall standings.
But a week later in Simpson Bay, former Olympian Karl James's number one Antiguan team turned in a typically masterful show to win the two-day Marlow One Design Caribbean Keelboat Championship June 20 and 21, never dropping below third in any of the eighteen heats sailed.
Unpredictable weather and two poor results cost Frits Bus's St. Maarten team who, despite sailing well for the most part, finished in second place for the fourth time in a row, after breaking the tie with third placed Chris Marshall's Gill team when both were on 28 points. "It's frustrating us but it also shows the quality of sailing at this event," Bus concurred afterward. "But you need some luck too. You can easily be on the wrong side of the course the wind is so flukey. You need a bit of luck to get it right but it didn't work out. It was extremely shifty both days and when you make the wrong choices you go from first to fifth in a heartbeat."
Simon Manley steered Scuba Shop Team into a very respectable fourth place while fifth place went to the only youth team in the regatta skippered by 15-year-old Jolyon Ferron. He was joined by crew Saskia Looser, Stephen Looser, and Rhone Findlay and, much to their credit, they matched their peers tack for tack, winning two races and finishing in second place twice.
"We were expecting last or second last, so we're very pleased," said Ferron who added it was the first time the four had sailed together as a team. "We were used to the shifty wind but in the heavy weather we thought we would lose it, but in fact we handled it pretty well."
The youth team represents the new blood in St. Maarten sailing and were deservedly praised for their efforts.
The Trinidad team Enzyme finished in sixth place with Robbie Ferron's Sea Jet Team in sixth. The two St. Barth teams and two remaining Antiguan teams didn't fare so well despite the pedigrees of their skippers.
A total of 13 teams participated, including six from St. Maarten and seven from Antigua, Curaçao, Trinidad, and St. Barth.
Report by Robert Lucock submitted by Marlow One Design Caribbean Keelboat Championship