Preparation and training earned Team Antigua the championship at the 15th BVI Premier’s Cup International Youth Regatta, sailed out of Nanny Cay Resort & Marina, on Tortola, July 13 – 14. Winning team members were: Janield Smith, Stephan Dundas, Rhone Kirby, Jules Mitchell, Lewis Fitzgerald and David Jackson.
“I am very proud of the boys,” says Karl James, head coach at the Antigua Yacht Club (AYC) and director of Antigua’s National Sailing Academy (NSA).
Ten teams with 60 sailors total competed, representing Antigua, St. Croix, the Bahamas, BVI, Anguilla, Puerto Rico, Trinidad & Tobago, the USA and for the first time Barbados. The first day, teams drew lots with five teams sailing in the morning and the remaining five in the afternoon.
“The wind was light and shifty, ten knots max,” James explains. “We came in third in our heat, being beaten by the Bahamas and BVI 1.”
The top three teams from both sessions advanced. The next day, winds averaged ten to 15 knots over the windward-leeward courses. Sailors were able to easily navigate the fairly constant trade winds well until the last race when winds died with the Sir Francis Drake channel currents causing all boats to perform last minute extra tacks in order to make the upwind mark. Team Antigua did extremely well in these conditions. They scored first place bullets in four of the five final day’s races and ended second in the second to last race by less than half a boat length.
“The last race was most special,” James tells. “There was a squall right before, and afterwards the winds dropped to three to four knots. I chatted with the boys about what the wind was doing and we came up with a plan. They executed it perfectly. I couldn’t have done it better.”
James attributes the team’s win to their training in advance of the regatta. Although the AYC and NSA don’t have IC-24s, they do have a 26ft 1720 Sportboat. The design originated in Ireland, over 100 have been built and there are growing fleets in Europe. James used this vessel to train his team, many of whom are Laser sailors, over a number of weeks. The effort paid off in putting Antigua back on top at the podium, a place they previously occupied for many years.
What makes this regatta among the most unique junior sailing events in the Caribbean is that there are no dinghies such as Optimists, Lasers or Sunfish, nor are there adult members competing on the teams. As a result, this regatta adds another dimension of proficiency to the region’s junior sailors’ skill sets.
“Keelboats are good for team building,” James says. “Even someone who isn’t good as an individual dinghy sailor can shine as part of a team. As a result, we will be adding two more 1720s to our program by the start of Antigua’s sailing season in November or December.”
Finishers in second through tenth place were: St. Croix, Bahamas, BVI 1, Anguilla, Puerto Rico, Barbados, Trinidad & Tobago, USA and BVI 2.
The BVI Premier’s Cup International Youth Regatta is hosted by The Kids and The Sea BVI and the Rotary Clubs of the BVI. Rotarians volunteer to erect the tent village where teams stay, barbecue and serve meals, and assist in various other logistics of the weekend, while the Royal BVI Yacht Club officiates the racing. Platinum sponsors include Digicel, Nagico Insurance and Nanny Cay Resort and Marina.
Carol M. Bareuther, RD, is a St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands based marine writer and registered dietitian.