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Michael Green: St Lucia’s Silver Fox of Sailing

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He’s a native of Ireland, raced extensively in the UK, and cast off on a round-the-world cruise. But St. Lucia-based sailor Michael Green calls the Caribbean the best place in the world to sail. “We possess perfect conditions for both big boats and dinghies. In fact, the Caribbean could hold world championships every year for fifty years and not run out of perfect bays and venues.”

Green began his sailing career in the UK at age 11. “By 16, I was competitive in a number of classes. For example, I won the UK National Under 18 Championships in 1972, and represented the UK in the World Championships and came in second.” He went on to become the European Minisail Champion and National Flying Fifteen Open Champion in Ireland in 1982.

In 1983, Green cast off from the UK and ended up in the Caribbean. Since then, when not running his Endless Summer day sail business, Green has traveled extensively to race sailboats. “I have won a number of dinghy events including the Caribbean Dinghy Championships and the St. Maarten Laser Championship. In bigger boats, I’ve placed first in class at most of the major Caribbean regattas, including Antigua Sailing Week, the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta and the Mount Gay/Boatyard Regatta. And, I’ve won a number of Caribbean match racing events, losing only once in eight years of competition to St. Thomas’ Peter Holmberg.”

Green’s match racing prowess earned an invitation to the Knickerbocker Cup in Los Angeles where he and his team ultimately finished fifth. Green then moved on to mount two Olympic campaigns. In the first, he represented Barbados in the Starr Class in Seoul, Korea, in 1988. He finished 11 th. In 1996, he represented St. Lucia in the Laser Class in Atlanta, Georgia.

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More recently, Green and his team of fellow sailors flew the St. Lucian flag at the J/24 North American Championships and qualified for the 2003 Pan American Games. They finished 7 th at this event, then 5 th in J/24s at the Central American and Caribbean Games the following year.

Green says that the last few years have brought more J/24s into St. Lucia. “In fact, we at the St. Lucia Yacht Club have five races for J/24s every second weekend and a number of boats travel to other islands to compete.”

Youth sailing, says Green, is the future of the sport. “Young sailors today should get in a program and get out and sail in as many international events as possible. The biggest problem in the Caribbean is getting the exposure of international competition.

“When I was 16, I was sailing with and against World, European and Olympic sailors every week,” he continues. “People wonder why I sail pretty well. Well, Tiger Woods isn’t the best in the world because he plays golf now and again. A number of islands have got it right – the USVI, BVI, Antigua, Trinidad, just to name a few. But, we have to get those to work together to help the ones that don’t have the finances or expertise.”

As for the future of Caribbean sailing in general, Green says, “Like most countries, we have the same old problem. That is, too many various types of boats such that we have to rely on the handicap system to work and that leads up to many problems and arguments. It goes on all over the place and has turned many sailors off spending the money and taking the time to travel to the events.

“One design is the only way to go and it worked fairly well with the Beneteaus in Barbados, the Melges up North and now the IC 24s. It’s so much more fun to go sailing when you know that you’re all competing in the same kind of boat and where you finish is where you come in – no arguments.”

After all these years, what is it about sailing that entices Green to stay in the game? “When you are brought up doing a sport and have been both good at it and enjoyed all it has to offer, then what can I say. It’s just part of your life. It’s like having a family, I guess. As long as you love it you will always want to do it.”

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Carol M. Bareuther, RD, is a St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands based marine writer and registered dietitian.

So Caribbean you can almost taste the rum...

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