The four-year-old Mango Bowl Regatta is still in its infancy compared to many Caribbean sailing competitions. Yet this St. Lucia Yacht Club-hosted event, raced November 27th to 29th, is finding sweet success as the number of entries and classes continue to grow each year.
“We ran the Mango Bowl with four classes last year and with only one entry in the racing class,” explains regatta director, Ann Purvis. “This year, following a conversation I’d had in Martinique with some of our previous entrants, we added a Melges class. I like to please our French neighbors because they are always so friendly and enthusiastic. They made up half of our 28 total entries. We ended up with six classes this year, with six yachts in the racing class.”
“Since the regatta is still small, the atmosphere is more intimate and fun. I knew a couple of people who had never sailed before and got invited onboard as ‘rail meat’ on other boats and had a blast.”
Martinique’s Fred Dutheil and his team aboard ECampagnie, a 32ft French-built JPK 960, reveled in the 20 knots of breeze to win every one of the Racing classes’ five races.
“The windy conditions are good for this type of boat,” says Dutheil, who adds that a well-trained crew and perfectly prepared boat was key to success. “The courses were very interesting. Tactical and technical skills were required and we loved it.”
Six boats each also sailed in the one-design J/24 and Surprise classes. St. Lucia’s Frederic Sweeney championed the J/24 class in an extremely close tie-breaker over Grenada’s Robbie Yearwood on Die Hard IWW, by having the greater number of first place finishes. Meanwhile, it was Martinique’s Stanley Dormoy who won both the Surprise class and Combined J/24-Surprise Class Series aboard his 24ft, Kreyol Sandwich.
“Our success came from a good ambiance among our team, plus we had some training before coming with specific work on start procedures,” says Dormoy, whose team won the Jeff Campana Trophy in October in Guadeloupe. “Even if we did make a mistake (and we did), we immediately concentrated on what was coming up next instead of looking backwards.”
Martinique’s Nicolas Gillet triumphed in the first-ever three-entry Melges 24 class aboard his GFA Caraïbes.
Seven boats competed in two Cruising classes. In Cruising I, racing in the Mango Bowl Regatta for the third time proved a charm for David Onyons who, after finishing second in 2013 and third in 2014 aboard his Sigma 36, Happy Morning, took first place in 2015.
“We came over from the UK for a holiday and also to take part in the Mango Bowl,” says Onyons, who brought Happy Morning to St. Lucia in the 2009 Atlantic Rally for Cruisers. “I hadn’t sailed her since the Bequia Easter Regatta and she had been ashore for six months, so prep included sanding the bottom, rigging everything and launching as early as possible to get in a few practice sails. I managed to get a crew of eight friends together, which meant we could at least try to keep the boat flat. In the end, our starts were pretty good and although we were OCS (over early at the start) a couple of times, we were able to recover quickly.”
In Cruising II, skipper Ben Thompson and former sailing school students at the St. Lucia-based First 4 Sail finished first aboard the Choate 40, Papagayo.
“We entered the regatta for fun, knowing as a novice crew on a yacht with a large handicap that it would be difficult to win. However, the conditions favored us,” says Thompson. “Since the regatta is still small, the atmosphere is more intimate and fun. I knew a couple of people who had never sailed before and got invited onboard as ‘rail meat’ on other boats and had a blast.”
For full results, visit: stluciayachtclub.com/archives/mango-bowl-2015-results
Carol M. Bareuther, RD, is a St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands based marine writer and registered dietitian.