For the first time since becoming a country, Sint Maarten is sending a sailing team to the Central American and Caribbean (CAC) Games, where they will compete in the Lightning class.
Garth Steyn, President of the Sint Maarten Sailing Federation (SIMSAF) and Kidz At Sea Foundation, and Cary Byerley, also of SIMSAF, are the driving force behind the scheme to send a team to the games, however, Steyn points out, “this is a dual purpose project.” Following the games, students at the island’s Milton Peters College will build a fleet of Lightning dinghies from basic plans. Once in production, the robust three-man plywood dinghies, which were designed by Sparkman & Stephens in 1933, will join two 30ft racing yachts already built by the students and incorporated into the Kidz at Sea program.
Cary Byerley has taken on the role of Sailing Delegation Team Leader. “It’s the first time St. Maarten is able to compete in the Games. It’s very exciting,” she said. “I’m on the Regional Games Committee for World Sailing so I’m covering two bases, St. Maarten and my job on the Games Committee.”
The well-used Lightning shown in this article was purchased secondhand in the States and shipped to the island so the team could practice. Practicing will be intense as the games, held in Baranquilla, Colombia, start July 17th and no one on the team has ever sailed a Lighting before.
To compete in the Games, new boats have to be rented at the venue. Steyn said the combined cost for the team to compete could top US $15,000 and noted fundraising was underway.
The Lightning team comprises Garth Steyn, Jolyon Ferron and Alec Scarabelli. Traveling with them to the games is veteran sailor Frits Bus who will represent St. Maarten in the Laser competition. This will be Bus’s fifth CAC Games.