Young sailors compete courtesy of Rotary

| 26/07/2012

Cayman Islands Youth Sailing Team with Coach Browne.jpg(CISA): Cayman was strongly and proudly represented by a team of five youth sailors on the weekend of 13th to 15th July 2012 at the Kids and the Sea (K.A.T.S.) Premier’s Cup in Tortola, British Virgin Islands. This year marked the 14th annual regatta held just off Nanny Cay Marina in Sir Francis Drake channel. The event was well attended with representatives from Anguilla, Bahamas, Puerto Rico, U.S.A. Sail Caribbean, Trinidad and Tobago, and the British Virgin Islands, making for stiff competition. The Cayman team was generously sponsored by the Rotary Club of Grand Cayman, which enabled helmsman Pablo Bertran and his crew of Florence Allan, Jesse Jackson, Ronan Jennings, and Justino Rodriguez to compete.

They participated in this prestigious international event helping them continue to develop their skills, gain important racing experience, and meet other young sailors from the Caribbean region.

After a long day of travelling to Tortola, BVI, the team was able to practice on Friday 13 July, during which they became familiar with the boat. Kelvin Browne, the coach of the Cayman team said, “The team trained on J22 keel boatsat the Cayman Islands Sailing Club, but as the racing in the BVI was on a Caribbean one-design IC24, it was imperative that we were able to practice and that the full attention and concentration was required from all team members”.

The racing officially began on the morning of Saturday 14th July. The conditions were similar to Cayman, windy – around 15 knots with gusts up to 20 knots with big swells, making it relatively easy for the team to adapt quickly and race into one of the top positions. At the end of the first five races, the Cayman team was tied for third with 19 points behind Anguilla (7 points) and Bahamas (17 points). Coach Brown said, “Throughout the first five races, the team showed great strength in sailing downwind and I was impressed by the team’s ability to stay with the regatta’s top contenders. After the lunch break, the Cayman team struggled with consistency and due to the rules of the regatta, which did not allow for discarding the lowest position achieved, the team found themselves tied for fifth after a total of 11 races.”

Although the sailors felt physically exhausted, their spirits remained high and they performed even better during the racing on Sunday, battling the teams who raced into top positions on previous day. The conditions on Sunday were even tougher, with winds around 20 knots, gusting to over 22 knots, but this did not stop the Cayman team. In two of the races, Cayman placed second, narrowly being edged out at the finish line. In the 17th and final race of the regatta, as the team was fighting and clawing for every position and pushing themselves to the limit, one of the crew members slipped overboard while rounding the leeward mark. Helmsman, Bertran, and his remaining crew, executed an expert man-overboard pick-up before the team lost too many spaces.

At the end of the regatta, Anguilla raced to a convincing first place, while the Cayman team achieved a promising sixth place out of a total of eight teams. Overall, the results were extremely close with only nine points separating second and sixth place. Kelvin Browne said, “The kids performed extremely well, but the final result did not reflect how well they really sailed, nor how talented this team is. Unfortunately the regatta’s no discard rule negatively affected our overall placing, but the team learned a lot throughout the regatta about competition and teamwork.” Coach Browne continued, “I look forward to bigger and better things at next year’s Premier’s Cup with some more consistency, and I hope that the team continues to compete in the local club racing on a more regular basis.”

The entire team expressed their sincere gratitude for all of the support they received including that from the sponsor (The Rotary Club of Grand Cayman), members of the Cayman Islands Sailing Club, and the parents of the team members.


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