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The Queens Baton a Mission Statement!

The Queen’s Baton, having visited Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana, Barbados, Grenada and St Vincent and the Grenadines, paid St Lucia a visit last weekend. Even the horrendous weather failed to dampen the spirit of St Lucia's sailors.

The baton will travel more than 180,000 kilometers for a sporting first where it will visit all 71 Commonwealth nations in a year and one day, making the Melbourne 2006 Queen’s Baton Relay the world’s longest and most inclusive relay.

The baton began its 9a.m. charge from Rodney Bay’s Village Inn. After a power breakfast with Minister for Education, Human Resource Development, Youth and Sports, Mario Michel, the baton was handed over to St Lucia’s cyclists.

Police outriders heralded the approach of the baton as the cyclists, with baton held high, sped past our East Caribbean Village vantage point on their way to Banan Bay. It was then the turn of the St Lucia Athletics Association to deliver the baton to government house—which they duly did—minutes before the heavens opened.

Rain beat down and in the distance thunder rumbled as we waited patiently aboard the powerboat Mission in Castries’ sodden harbor. It was to be the Yachting Association’s task to deliver the baton into the fists of St Lucia’s boxers—in Soufriere.

St Lucia Yacht Club’s commodore, Mike Green, collected the baton from government house and, once through Customs, the baton was delivered aboard the Mission, kindly donated (just for the day I hasten to add) by benevolent businessman, Bernard Johnson.

Sean Kessel along with SLYC’s sailing captain Nick Forsberg put on their heavy-weather gear, as did the man charged with delivering the baton—Jonathan Everett—as we thundered toward Soufriere.

Jerry Galazi, Shannon Stacey and Peter Dikschei, the baton’s custodians, huddled behind Richard Peterkin, president of the St Lucia Olympic Committee, organizer and Myrtle Alexander as the weather, already bad, worsened.

“It’s not raining in Soufriere,’ said Myrtle above the roar of the engines, “The weather forecast is good!”

Unconvinced, we grimaced, turned our back to the rain and cursed our luck. However, as we approached Marigot Bay—and a small welcoming committee—the sun struggled through.

Castries dour harbor was nothing more than a fading memory as 20 minutes later we approached Soufriere’s majestic Pitons.

The green, gold and silver baton was swiftly removed from its protective casing and held aloft by Everett, framed between the looming landmarks. A quick handover handshake in Soufriere’s harbor and the baton was on its way to the pungent sulphur springs, courtesy of Reds Perreira’s boxers, before returning back to the harbor and lunch.

After a superb lunch at the Hummingbird Hotel it was back aboard the Mission for a J24 appointment at the Barrel of Beef.

Michael Camps and his young J24 crew, who did so well in Tortola, accepted the baton and made their way to the Royal St Lucian hotel where St Lucia’s swimmers stood like tiny soldiers on a sandy square.

When I say swimmers, I really mean handed over to a swimmer aboard an inflatable, (the baton’s shower proof, not waterproof), which kept pace with the swimmers as they struck out for St Lucia Yacht Club and the final handover to the island’s Squash players.

A flawless performance by everyone involved, everything happened when and as it should. If I say it went off with military precision then the role of ex-RAF man and Yachting Association president Ted Bull could have something to do with it.

It’s Ted’s final year as president and if he ever wanted a reference—then the Queen’s Baton should suffice.

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