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Loose Cannon Fires a Broadside J24 Wins St. Lucia's XMAS Sailing Festival

Christmas came early for Loose Cannon’s international crew and skipper, Frank Capers, when they finished in front of last month’s third annual Christmas Sailing Festival. Organized, not surprisingly, by St Lucia Yacht Club (SLYC) to coincide with the arrival of Atlantic Rally for Cruisers (ARC) it attracted some big names—none more so than Jesus, Mary and Joseph!

Entries were down from last year’s 29 to 21 but crew numbers were up for the three-day event as ARC participants arrived later than usual, victims of an Atlantic crossing described by some as ‘sailing in a washing machine!’

Tuesday’s Race One brought weather conditions ARC participants must have only dreamt about! The deep blue backdrop of Rodney Bay shimmered and churned as Kevlar sails and brightly painted hulls sachet in each and every direction—although it was difficult to ascertain who was doing what—and to whom.

“Yes,” said the Yachting Association’s president, young Ted Bull, when I pointed this out to him “it was a little difficult to follow if you didn’t understand the nature of the buoys.”

I didn’t—I’m sure I wasn’t on my own—but it looked fantastic.

The handicap system must have been a complex affair. I’m pleased I wasn’t involved in its orchestration! The handicapper had to take into account Frank’s J24, the 70ft-million-pound (well that’s what it looked like to me) Incisor of Wight, a Corby 45 with Kevlar sails and last year’s winner Whitea plus a further five craft.

Nope, too difficult for me.

Incidentally, it was nice to see Cider with Rosie back in action after a couple of year’s absence due to a dismasting and loss of steering. Still, as they say, some things get better with age, cider being one of them, not so sure about Rosie.

“The fun class was similar to a maritime treasure hunt,” said young Ted whilst putting a couple of coffees on my burgeoning bill. “The cash point,” Ted sighed, rolled his eyes and promised recompense sometime in the future (he wasn’t specific).

“The fun-class crews were met at Gros Islet and given instructions on how to accumulate points by finding and solving clues. Their ultimate destination being JJs in Marigot Bay after a meandering course around the coast and Castries Harbour,” said Ted.

“The tighter courses suit the J24,” said Capers, “even though the boats were designed 30 years ago we’re still able to compete, although I would have preferred a purely J24 class.”

The evening ended with some 70s anthems galvanizing the crowd into action, “I could see the floor moving,” said Ted (a young man of 65 in the seventies), “I had a ball.”

He wasn’t the only one!

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