An offer that she couldn’t refuse lured one of Caribbean sailing’s most dynamic movers and shakers north to her native Canada in January. However, that doesn’t mean Antigua & Barbuda’s Kathy Lammers is leaving the marine industry. Instead, she has traded a quartet of hats – chairman of the Regatta Organizing Committee (ROC) for Antigua Sailing Week (ASW), director of the Antigua & Barbuda Marine Association (ABMA), president of the Caribbean Sailing Association (CSA), and treasurer of the Antigua and Barbuda Sailing Association (ABSA) to manage a marina on Lake Ontario. The good news is the impressive accomplishments and industry advancements that Lammers has left in her wake and the fact her new position enables her to return to the Caribbean each winter.
“My first sailing experiences started when visiting my ex-in-laws on their boat in the Caribbean,” says Lammers, a Toronto, Ontario-native. “We did several trips up and down the islands, but Antigua was always our base. One day my husband and I went home to Canada after a wonderful time in the Caribbean, looked at our lovely house and all our belongings and said ‘who needs this? Let’s sell it all and buy a sailboat and go enjoy life in the Caribbean.’ So that’s what we did.”
Lammers settled in Jolly Harbor in 1995 and soon became part of the community. Though she didn’t then know much about racing, she joined now-husband Hans Lammers’ crew when Lammers was shorthanded for a local race and soon became a regular crew member at regattas throughout the Caribbean. Lammers’ keen attention to detail earned her the position of handling the team’s technicalities, such as the racing rules, sailing instruction and courses. These skills and a good understanding of racing developed over the years and led to her many marine organizational involvements, including ASW in 2010.
“Regatta numbers had been declining, so I was asked to assist on the race side. It was when ASW’s entire organizational structure changed drastically and a new ROC was formed,” explains Lammers, who adds that like many Caribbean regattas, money and making sure everyone involved was pleased were chief challenges. “There were so many things we would like to have done but funding was always an issue. In terms of happiness, I tried to focus mainly on the sailors. However, there was no getting away from the obligations we had to everyone else as well because ASW is one of Antigua’s biggest national events.”
ASW involvement led to Lammers’ directorship on the ABMA board. Here, business-wise assistance such as updating corporate records and annual returns, heightening environmental consciousness, creating a three-year calendar of marine-related events and focusing on marketing Antigua’s marine industry were contributions during her 2013 to 2016 tenure.
Similarly, ASW led to Lammers’ association with the CSA, originally through the annual Regatta Organizers’ Conference. Then, she joined the board as Secretary/Treasurer, helped facilitate the organization’s incorporation as a non-profit; developed new by-laws that created several new committees to distribute the workload with former CSA president Peter Holmberg, and then became president in 2015.
“September’s storms were devastating to several islands and definitely had an impact on their yachting industries and regattas. However, the outpouring of support for those islands from sailors around the world has been tremendous. All the major regattas in damaged islands are proceeding as planned for 2018, although some will have a different look or feel to them,” says Lammers. “As for racing sailors, they like the islands that have good services, so repairs can be done before, after and mid-regatta if necessary; they want good places to eat and drink and they want to experience some of the Caribbean parties of which the islands are famous. At the end of the day, it’s good quality racing that will keep them coming back.”
Lammers will be back too.
“The good thing about my new job is that I will have January and February off every year, so we’ll once again be able to sail the Caribbean for a couple of months annually – something we haven’t been able to do for many years.”
Carol M. Bareuther, RD, is a St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands based marine writer and registered dietitian.