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Prime Time - St. Lucia's Prime Minister's Cup

Luke Hamilton, on the recently purchased Sea Queen, took the honours in St Lucia's Prime Minister’s Cup last month but that’s not the full story. A regatta, featuring Lasers, Optimists and a six race series for J24s, to decide a national champion—it was National Day after all—also took place.

The blustery conditions were perfect . . . for spectators!

Hosted and organized by St Lucia Yacht Club (SLYC) in corporation with the St Lucia Sailing Association the event was sponsored by C&W, St Lucia Distillers and Peters & Co.

Five classes made up the regatta, including the Prime Minister’s Cup, a.k.a. the Big Boat race. There was a single event for the Impulse class; six for the J24s; three for the Optimists and five for the Lasers which made for a busy day on Rodney Bay.

The Big Boats set off for Anse Cochon around 9.30am for the 20-mile round trip. Blustery conditions and Murphy’s Law made for an ‘interesting’ start.

SLYC’s Vice-Commodore Jonathan Everett described it as: “Not quite a Royal Yacht Squadron start” . . . still, he was smiling at the time.

Aboard Bernard (Marvelous Marlin) Johnson’s Breeze-a-Way, Everett and crew crossed the line in front of Sea Queen after a ‘ding-dong’ battle that saw just a half a boat’s length—both boats are over 40ft—separating the pair on the Anse Cochon turn.

“After two and a half hours with speeds up to eight and half knots on a broad reach going down—with a dead beat back to Pigeon Point—we crossed the finish line 10 minutes ahead of Sea Queen,” said Everett, “we, in turn, finished behind the handicapper!”

Hot Chocolate finished third with Whitea and Crossfire taking fourth and fifth respectively.

The Impulse class had two entries, Lucia and the flamboyant Chateau Mygo which deserves an award for paintwork alone.

The pair sailed the same course as the Big Boats, now remember, Chateau Mygo had to sail from Marigot to begin the race in front of SLYC and conditions were on the heavy side.

St Lucia’s Sailing Association’s ex-president ‘young’ Ted Bull said: “these guys were something special, the two man crews not only kept up with but outsailed some of the big boats!”

After a five hour duel it was Cameron Bevan aboard Lucia crossing the line ahead of Said Rambally and Chateau Mygo. Rena Bergasse, Thomas Meixner and Markus Sweeney finished one, two and three in the Optimist class. The heavy conditions and strong gusts made it a case of who so ever completed a race without capsizing was in with a chance of winning.

Spectator sailing at its best!

With the 2012 London Olympics in mind the three classes of Laser—specifically designed for International Sailing Federation (ISaF) recognition—were full of Olympic hopefuls.

Danielle Beaubrun and Charly Daher were first and second in the Laser 4.7 class. Luis and Felix Meixner, not for the first time, finished first and second with Eric Simons taking third in the Laser Radial class.

In the Overall Handicap Luis Meixner finished top with Dannielle Beaubrun, Felix Meixner, Charly Daher and Eric Simons finishing in close order.

But the main event for me was the J24 class. The six race event (three before and three after lunch) made for some spectacular sailing in the blustery conditions.

With the title of National Champion and next year’s Pan Am games on the table Loose Cannon (winner of the St Lucia Sailing Festival); Jabal; Banana Wind (with new owner Jerry Bethe); Attitude and Grayling lined up.

All crews had to compete in back to back starts in all races around a windward leeward course with racing commencing at 10a.m.

The J24 racing was a story on its own, 22knot winds saw to that, but in the end it was Grayling with Olympic veteran Mike Green finishing on top.

Fashionable Frank Capers and Loose Cannon came next with Jabal, Banana Wind and Attitude (with SLYC’s new commodore) finishing down the order.

Prize giving took place at SLYC at around 5.30pm. Keats Compton welcomed all and explained the union between Marine Industries Association and SLYC in promoting the event. SLYC’s new commodore, Charles Devaux, was next on the podium and called on SLYC’s new instructors Simon and James plus Maria Fowle to present the prizes for the Optimist and Laser events. The youngsters all received medals and Maria presented both Simon and James with a bottle of rum.

Cabinet secretary Jimmy Fletcher presented each of the J24’s skippers with an award courtesy of sponsors Peter & Co and Barbay. He also gave awards to Ted and Maryann Bull and Malcolm and Lindsay Harrison for their sterling work on the race committee. Now for the PM’s Cup. Jimmy Fletcher continued presenting prizes up to second place when Minister for Sports, Mario Michel, took over and presented the trophy, scotch and telephone (courtesy of C&W) to race winner Luke Hamilton.

Keats wrapped up the event, club commodore Charles Devaux gave a short thank you speech and in just 30 minutes it was all over—a quick end for a long, long day!

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