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Boys of Summer

While Tortolian Iyaz continues to dominate the international pop charts, his countryman Alec Anderson dominates the collegiate sailing world. Iyaz and Alec both have the “it” factor, and I never quite knew what that meant until I met Alec last year. He’s a young man whose feet never seem to touch the ground, yet he remains incredibly grounded. He is gracious and appreciative with impeccable manners, yet he can party like he was born on the Willy-T. Well, he practically was born on the infamous pirate ship bar—his grandfather Mick Gardner and father Ewan Anderson are the proprietors.

Photo courtesy of Rob Migliaccio.

As his successful first year of university wraps up, Alec looks forward to a “summer full of sailing.”His schedule includes the Laser Gulf Coast Championship and Laser North American Championship in Texas, the Central American and Caribbean Games in Mayagüez, Puerto Rico and the Laser Radial Men’s World Championships in Largs, Scotland. “It’d be great to do well at the CAC Games,” Alec said then added, “but I’m putting the most pressure on myself to succeed in the Worlds.”

With him at the Worlds in Scotland will be his long-time sailing coach, Chris Watters. “It’ll be a good time,” Alec said. I’m sure it will, I thought. I’ve seen photos of the VW camper microbus that the Andersons are providing for the boys’ tour of Scotland, Ewan’s birthplace, and I’m looking forward to photos of their escapades.

But it’s not going to be all fun and games in Scotland. Alec will be there to win, and Chris will be there to make that happen. Alec praised the fact that Chris has always treated him like an equal, even when he was a kid in the RBVIYC Youth Sailing Program, but more than that, he said, “Of all the coaches I’ve ever had, Chris is by far the most motivating. Right before a race, he revs my engines when they need to be revved. He pumps me up when I need to be pumped up.” I imagine Chris as a modern-day version of Shakespeare’s Henry V, inciting Alec to give his life for the honour of his country, the BVI: “He that outlives this day, and comes safe home, Will stand a tip-toe when this day is nam'd…” Okay, maybe he’s more like John Belushi in Animal House “Where's the spirit? Where’s the guts? This could be the greatest night of our lives…”           

Coach Chris is proud of his star student. When I asked him why Alec deserved to win Rookie of the Year, Chris said, “Because he sailed better than any other rookie by far!” The qualities that separate Alec from other sailors, said his coach, are his insatiable appetite for learning about sailing and his ability to stay focused for long periods of time, “but his one weakness is that he tends to lose that focus when he’s in the lead.” Alec’s greatest tactical strengths, according to Chris, are his downwind speed and his starts. But Alec’s desire to constantly improve makes him stand out above other sailors. “He’s taken something from every coach, friend, competitor, clinic and regatta. He learns from as many people as possible which has helped round him into his own sailor.”

Before they tour the world, both Alec and Iyaz were home in the BVI for a bit—in Cane Garden Bay for BVI MusicFest. “I’m extremely pumped to be on the beach without a sweater listening to the music that I love,” Alec said. We’re excited for Alec, too, and wish him the best this summer as he represents the BVI abroad.  

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