St Lucian sailors dominate Mango Bowl

Attitude placed first in the J24 Class at the Mango Bowl Regatta.

Attitude placed first in the J24 Class at the Mango Bowl Regatta.

Screams and cheers from the Spectator Boat must have been heard in Martinique on Sunday morning as Sugar Beach Attitude raced across the finish line of the final race in the 2013 Saint Lucia Mango Bowl Regatta.

The local team, skippered by St Lucia Yacht Club Sailing Captain Fredric Sweeney, was a delight to watch all weekend as they fought against stiff competition from veteran crews from Saint Lucia, Barbados and Martinique.

Out of nine races in the J24 Class, Sweeney (aged 24) and the Attitude team, Dylan Charles (17), Konstantin Tonkopi (14), Ryan Alexander (25) and Ricardo Charmon (28) took four first places and three second places to finish with a total of 14 points ahead of Unbridled skippered by Olympian and champion J24 match-racer Mike Green. Third place in the J24 Class went to another local boat, Buffalo Soldier (formerly Claudio Vogel), which was raced by Martiniquan skipper Nicholas Gillet and his crew who flew into Saint Lucia especially for Mango Bowl.

The island’s premier competitive sailing event is in its second year, and organisers at the Saint Lucia Yacht Club are delighted with the response from participants, sponsors, spectators and media who supported the regatta and made it a resounding success. Coordinator Anne Purvis reported a final rush of registrations at the Skippers’ Brief on Friday evening, and a total of 32 boats took to the waters of Rodney Bay early on Saturday morning, an increase on last year’s fleet even after two boats had to retire from the 34 registered.

Conditions were great if a little blustery, and the overnight torrential rains that caused a few worried faces at the welcome party on Friday cleared to ensure a perfect day of spectacular sailing around two courses: J24s and the similarly sized Surprise Class from Martinique raced together on a short circuit, while Racing and Cruising Classes headed north of Pigeon Island on their longer race route.

Racing Officer James Benoit (Grenada) and on-the-water Judge Tom Rinda (USA) kept everything running smoothly, and committee boat Breezeaway was home for a team of scorers, spotters, flag raisers and photographers as well as start and finish line for the racing.

Saint Lucian boats also did well in the Cruising Class category, with X-Factor in sixth place, Papagayo in seventh, II Short in eighth and restored Carriacou sloop Good Expectation in ninth out of a fleet of 15.

Winner of the Cruising Class after five races was another Carriacou sloop Savvy from Grenada: Skipper Danny Donelan and his crew were ecstatic at the prize-giving and vowed to return next year to defend the title. United Insurance provided a special gift of golf umbrellas to the Savvy team which were presented by the marine insurance provider’s Marketing Officer Josette Edgar and General Manager Faye Miller.

Second place in Cruising went to British yacht Happy Morning, while a very enthusiastic Trini crew on Where the Wild Things Are were in third.

Although a smaller fleet, the three Racing Class yachts fought a tough regatta, with Barbados’ Whistler just taking the top spot from Martinique’s Fiser by one point who finished better than last year when they placed third.

This year third place went to returning competitor Open the Barre. Six Martiniquan crews also battled for glory in the Surprise Class but Clipper’s Ship blew away the competition by winning seven out of nine races, with second place Digilife matching their last year position and the all female crew of Denebola taking third.

But it was Sugar Beach Attitude’s weekend, as the local lads were popular winners among the competitors and spectators alike. After winning the Southern Caribbean J24 Championship in Bequia at Easter, Fredric Sweeney and his team have competed in Barbados and spent many hours training in the waters off Rodney Bay, which was evident in the teamwork and tactics that took them to the end of the nine races in overall first place. The team also took the IGY Rodney Bay Marina J24/Surprise Class Combined Series prize of a haul out for the boat valued at EC$2500, which was presented by IGY General Manager Simon Bryan.

Attitude and its crew are sponsored by Viceroy Sugar Beach, boat owner Charles Devaux, IGY Rodney Bay Marina and the Saint Lucia Yacht Club. They have big plans to participate in several Caribbean regattas in 2014, starting with the Mount Gay Round Barbados in January. By visiting offshore regattas they are continuing to put Saint Lucia on the competitive sailing map and build friendly rivalries with Bajan and other regional J24 crews. Skipper Fredric Sweeney is grateful for all the support received
and is confident that there are more wins in Attitude’s near future.

The same boat was also winner of the inaugural Mango Bowl in 2012, then skippered by Stephanie Devaux-Lovell and her all-girl crew nicknamed ‘Blonde Attitude’.With her focus fixed firmly on Olympic Laser Radials in 2016, Devaux-Lovell has been training and travelling for much of the year, but she was proud of her new crew who came a respectable midway down the fleet.

At the Mango Bowl Prize-giving at the Yacht Club on Sunday, Commodore Dr Stephen King thanked all the visiting sailors that came from Martinique, Grenada, Barbados, Trinidad and England to make the regatta a bigger and better event in its second year. He had high praise for the social events hosted by the club and the Boardwalk Bar at Rodney Bay Marina during the regatta. The crowd was in agreement that Saint Lucia’s new kid on the competitive sailing circuit is on the calendar to stay.

Coordinator Anne Purvis thanked all the volunteers, organisers and participants for making Mango Bowl Regatta 2012 a huge success and very smooth operation.

Purvis gave special thanks to Parliamentary Representative for Gros Islet, Emma Hippolyte, for her ongoing support for Saint Lucian sailing despite being unable to attend the event due to her visit to Taiwan.

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