On Saturday, June 13, 13 of St. Lucia’s top under-15 sailors battled it out in the St. Lucia Optimist Championships. The young sailors took to the sea in Rodney Bay to demonstrate racing skills learned over the past three terms of training from their coaches Rob Hemming, Chris Lowe and Katie Yeo. (Youth Sailing Programme organized by the St Lucia Yacht Club).
The committee boat II Restless carried Fredric Sweeney, the young Race Officer of the Day and his geriatric crew of 70 and 80 year olds (Ted, Frank & Jonathan) and of course the never exhaustive photographer (Danielle) and lady coach (Katie)!
The weather did not have the same sunny mood as the sailors. The morning schedule was for three races, and driving rain with variable winds made for some tough racing, with wind squalls of up to 20 knots. Their skill and manoeuvrability was a sight to behold as they competed in six races around an Olympic type course – three races before lunch and three after lunch! Fortunately the sun appeared in the afternoon along with slightly less wind strength which provided an ideal sailing setting to complete the competition.
The young sailors fought hard, with Marcus Sweeney (13) coming out with two strong victories. Stephanie Lovell (13) took the other race in the morning followed closely by Thomas Meixner (13) and Marion Bardies (14).The afternoon racing was competitive and dominated by the girls as Marion Bardies, lead often with Raina Bergasse (14) also spending time at the front, while Stephanie Lovell and Marcus Sweeney traded the fourth and fifth races.
Going into the last race, the overall trophy was still up for grabs with Marcus Sweeney ahead of Stephanie Lovell by just a couple points. Marcus Sweeney got off to a terrible start and had to battle back from well down the fleet. Stephanie Lovell did everything she could to take the lead from Marion Bardies on the second lap and went on to win the race. Although it wouldn’t be enough, Marcus Sweeney showed the perseverance of a true champion and climbed all the way back to finish second and take the overall title. Stephanie Lovell still took the Girls trophy, Luc Chevrier sailed a consistent regatta to take home the 11 & under Trophy.
Report submitted through combined efforts of the SLYC; photos by Danielle DeRouck