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18th St. Martin Open Caribbean Laser Championship

Antigua’s Karl James extended his domination of Caribbean Laser Sailing in June’s St Maarten Laser Championships, emerging victorious for a fifth consecutive time. The seemingly laid-back Antiguan often comes away from these tournaments with more bullets than Charlton Heston, but on this occasion the opposition had him ruffled and he was pushed hard until the very last race.

An impressive ten participating nations came to Orient Bay to enjoy the steady 15 to 20 knot onshore breeze and challenging surf. Sponsored by Carib, the Laser Championships reached the age of majority with representative s from Antigua, BVI, Dominican Republic, St Barths, Bermuda, St Croix, St Maarten and beyond.

For once, James didn’t come to the tournament as outright favourite. Having spent a year on big boats, the Antiguan made the odds longer by opting to rent a Laser on the island instead of bringing a self-customised rig. Losing his security deposit wasn’t the only worry from there on. 24-year-old Raul Aguayo from the Dominican Republic, who came to St Maarten for the 2003 Sunfish World Championships, combined with Bermuda’s Brett Wright to snap at James’ transom throughout the weekend. Stiff winds made for energy-sapping conditions that eventually put paid to Aguayo’s challenge, but scores were close enough going into the final race to provide a head-to-head between James and Wright. Part of being a champion, particularly a five-time one, is knowing when to make it count, and James put in a winning performance to hold off Wright on both the windward and leeward legs to secure victory overall.

In the Radial category, Tortola’s Emma Paul came out tops ahead of Robbie Ferron and David De Vries.

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