Sunday evening’s barbeque and fireworks display brought to a close the National Dinghy Championships hosted by the St Lucia Yacht Club this past weekend, just off the shores of Reduit Beach. It’s the second year that the club has held the event as an open invitational. In addition to local sailors, this year’s offering drew participants from the French-speaking island of Martinique, as well as Bequia.
The action got started on Friday with the Green Fleet comprised of 16 St Lucia-based sailors who were relatively new to the sport and had only been on the sea for less than six months or in some cases a few weeks. Prizes were handed out in male and female categories with overall victor Matteo Capasso and top female finisher Isabel Van de Verde claiming prizes respectively.
The Optimist Benjamins category, open to sailors 10 and under, was swept by the French, as the top three spots went to Clement Martin, Aubert Raynal, and Oceane Desrivieres, all from Martinque’s Le Marin club. Our neighbours to the north also featured prominently in the older Optimist category. Jimmy Marchand from Neptune was the overall winner, followed by Megane Reuperne-Zamor of Le Marin, and Hugo de Chavigny representing Club Nautique de Schoelcher.
Locals fared considerably better in the Laser competitions. In the 4.7 contest, Luc Chevrier finished second to Baptiste Dutheil of Neptune and just ahead of Dutheil’s compatriot and club mate Margaux Pudat. Chevrier has emerged as a prospect to represent St Lucia at the 2014 Youth Olympic Games in Nanjing, China.
Stephanie Devaux-Lovell finished third in the Laser behind Kevin Dufeal and Bruno Aglae from Club Nautique de Schoelcher. But the 2016 Rio Olympics hopeful was quite satisfied with her showing against the Frenchmen.
“I felt very confident in myself and I feel like I made a lot of good decisions and I’m really happy with how I did,” she said.
Devaux-Lovell is already looking ahead to her next venture on the road to Rio.
“I plan to go to Europe later on this month and I’m also planning to go to China later on in the year. I’m just trying to train as much as I can and do as many competitions as I can. I’m going to the gym everyday, I sail about four or five times a week, and my head is just really into the Olympics. I’m very focused,” she added.
The regatta also served as the St Lucia National Championship for local youth sailors. A perpetual trophy was presented to Guillaume Chevrier, the first place local finisher in the Optimist class. Trophies were also presented to Luc Chevrier and Devaux-Lovell, who was recognized as the SLYC’s best junior helmsperson and top radial sailor.
SLYC manager, Monique Devaux-Lovell also showed good will in presenting a special prize to Martinique’s Axel Ayassami who displayed incredible fortitude throughout the weekend despite several mishaps. She advised the young sailors to use his example as a life lesson.
“He must have capsized more than anyone on the course in one single day let alone two days. But he never gave up. Unfortunately a lot of our sailors, and other sailors would give up and they wouldn’t finish the race. But he never gave up. He always finished the race. And I think that perseverance is something that everybody should embrace because it’s that which keeps you going and will ultimately make you a good sailor. So I think it’s important to remember never to give up and to put your all in,” she concluded.
Special recognition was also made of the Gros-Islet youngsters in the sailing program who receive sponsorship from IGY Rodney Bay Marina. Youth Program Sailing Coordinator, Lily Bergasse, was full of praise for the novices.
“We have three boys in particular who have not been sailing for very long and they completed their very first regatta. They showed perseverance and they were out there in a lot of wind. They just learned the rules, flags and all, last week. I want them to continue to sail in every regatta that we have because they are part of the St Lucia Sailing Team,” Bergasse stated emphatically.
This year’s regatta was sponsored by IGY Rodney Bay Marina, SLASPA, Island Water World, Blue Waters, Grew Industries, Lumnat Distributors, JE Bergasse Ltd, Duboulay’s Bottling Company, and SLYC members Jonathan Everett, Ted Bull and Chris Renwick.
Minister for Commerce, Business Development, Investment and Consumer Affairs, and Gros-Islet representative Emma Hippolyte and St Lucia National Olympic Committee member Alfred Emmanuel were both in attendance to pledge their support for youth sailing on the island.