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On the same day the annual BVI Department of Youth Affairs and Sports Christmas Youth Regatta was held, three-time Olympic sailing gold medal winner Ben Ainslie lost his temper with a press boat and lost a world championship due to RYA Rule 69, “allegations of gross misconduct.” The two events—the BVI Watersports Centre’s Christmas fun day in Sea Cows Bay and the International Sailing Federation’s Olympic qualifier in Perth, Australia—really couldn’t get any farther apart in either nautical miles or nautical knowhow. But to me it all somehow harmonizes.


At the ISAF Sailing World Championships, over 1,000 elite athletes and heroes at the top of their game, such as the UK’s favourite sailor Ben Ainslie, were sailing to win a world title and qualify or endorse their position in Olympic squads. On the other end of the scale, at the DYAS Christmas Youth Regatta, almost 40 youth sailors were determined that regardless of what mother nature decided to dish out, there was no chance that they would be disappointed by unsafe behaviour or “gross misconduct.”

Sailors pride themselves on being mostly self-governed afloat. So the junior sailors in Sea Cows Bay on Saturday were given a quick round of etiquette reminders before the start of racing: don’t touch boats, yelling is okay as a warning, remember to say please and thank you. We even managed to belt out a verse of “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” among the hustle and bustle.

Most Race Committees would have laughed at the prospect of setting up courses in the weather conditions on offer that day. However, Kay Reddy and her team were not the slightest bit bothered by the swirling, squally, northeasterlies or the looming black sky, just the fact that the children wanted to go racing.

Five junior and youth classes, equating to 37 sailors, crowded onto the water from the Centre’s docks in Sea Cows Bay to the enclosed race area where they were briefed to sail first to the big, yellow, blowup, thing, regardless of the wind direction. Even the Baby Greens fleet of tiny Optimist sailors managed a quick reaching race, mid morning.

The Baby Greens—created in 2010 because we needed a group title for six-year-olds that were so small they were shorter than the foils of the boats they were learning on—would have been allowed, if the wind had not died for a convenient ten-minute period on Saturday, to remove the sails and paddle a course—anything to ensure everyone has fun.


All this hilarity doesn’t take away the power and appeal of tight competition even in the Christmas Regatta. The Laser helms were the embodiment of concentration as they passed by my safety boat again and again chasing the elusive lift in the breeze.

By the time of the pizza party and prize-giving at The Boat House Restaurant, 15 races were achieved in a morning of lighthearted competition. As the fleets were invited up, visiting Governor of Rotary District 7020, Guy Theodore, awarded the trophies designed by Green VI’s glassblowing studio. The infamous Blood Bath Race, as is traditional, was last to be announced, and as it is a handicapped race, no one knew the outcome. This year it was a talented Optimist sailor that beat the faster Lasers and Picos and earned a spot on the seven-year-old trophy.

The audience learned about a special perpetual award that is annually given by the BVIWSC to a young person that notably contributes their time and energy back into the sport of sailing within the Centre’s activities. The trophy is named in memory of Guy Eldridge and this year was awarded to Elsa Meyers who, although studying at university in Wales, gave up three weeks of her life to race with, coach and mentor the Special Olympics BVI sailing team that brought home Gold and Silver medals from Athens in June.

Looking back on that now-infamous day in sailing, I recall that my safety boat and I were, at one point, directly in the way of one teenaged sailor during the regatta after I had just up-righted an upside-down Optimist. That competitor groaned a bit in my direction and altered course. Thank heavens he didn’t swim over and board my powerboat in the same way Ben Ainslie did in Perth … we would have been thumbing through the rulebook for number 69.



Christmas Regatta Results:
Baby Greens
1 Greg McConnell/Jodie Wiliams
2 Isar Kerkulier
3 Thomas Hare
4 Isaac Sutherland-Pilch

Optimist Green
1 Kyle Roose
2 Nicole Munro
3 Prince David Archer
4 Erin Williams
5 Dominic Munro
6 Alex Richards
7 Luca Reich
8 George Dawson
9 Sydney Null

Optimist Silver

1 Sam Morell
2 Rayne Duff
3 Thad Lettsome
4 James Rasic Knight
5 James Dawson
6 Natalie Fay

1 Matthew Oliver
2 Daniel Petrovic
3 Delroy Gordon
4 Jaye Noel
5 Lenford Pope


1 Abayomi Maddox
2 Joseph/Giovanni Wells
3 Jahmoi Albert
4 Darje Stewart
5 Mareq Romney

The Blood Bath Race

1 Sam Morell -Optimist
2 Thad Lettsome – Optimist
3 Abayomi Maddox – Pico
4 Danny Petrovic -Laser Radial
5 Jaye Noel -Laser Radial
6 Glenford Gordon – Laser Radial
7 Mathew Oliver – Laser 4.7
8 Jahmoi Albert – Pico
9 Delroy Gordon – Laser Radial
10 Rayne Duff -Optimist
11 Natalie Fay  -Optimist
12 James Rasic Knight – Optimist
13 Darji Stewart -Pico
14 Lenford Pope – Laser Radial
15 Mareq Romney -Pico
16 Joseph Wells – Pico
17 Prince David Archer -Optimist

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