Yachtsmen and women from Cayman and around the world have descended on the island for a major international sports event this week, the KPMG International Invitational J/22 Regatta.
The five-day event, which starts on Thursday, 14 February, features the best that the Cayman Islands has to offer, including a popular team of youngsters, competing against teams from the US, the UK, Jamaica, Puerto Rico and Italy.
There are four teams representing the Cayman Islands, earning the right after a series of qualifying regattas in 2007.
The first qualifiers are Team Scaramanga of Mike Farrington, Matt Diaz, Sam Dawson, who all have a wealth of sailing experience in all types of racing from dinghies to small and larger keelboats. They represented the Cayman Islands in the 2007 International Yacht Club Challenge in New York and between them have competed in a number of world and international championships in the J/22 class.
Team Radium, the second qualifiers, are skippered by Donald McLean, an experienced national and international sailor who has represented the Cayman Islands at numerous international regattas including the J/ 22 World Championships, Bermuda Race Week, Key West Race Week, Star Class Worlds, ISAF Sailing Games and Olympics.
McLean is supported by Alex Laing, a keen sailor from Toronto, Canada, who now residing in Cayman Islands. He has competed at Youngstown Levels, Key West Race Week and Ontario 500.
The other member of Team Radium is Jennifer Ahearn, an accomplished bowperson, she has competed at the Rolex International Women’s Keelboat Championships, Youngstown Levels and Bermuda Race Week. She moved to the Cayman Islands in 1997 from Canada on a two-year contract and decided to stay; she has been married to Donald for the past seven years.
There has been much interest surrounding the third and final qualifier from the Cayman Islands, Team Fortis. They are likely to receive considerable backing from neutrals.
Team Fortis comprises young sailors from the Cayman Islands Sailing Club Youth Team, led by the CISC’s Director of Sailing, Michael Weber. They sailed consistently well throughout the qualifying series and their persistency and consistency paid off.
The team members are Weber, Stuart Jennings (aged 16), Marina Maffassanti (14), Nadeska Concha (14) and Chris Delaney (17). The reserves are Hugo McErlean (14) and Aleena Rankine (seven).
All the youngsters have come through the youth sailing programmes at the CISC and include Delaney, the current Byte National Champion, and Jennings, a former Junior Sailor of the Year.
The fourth team representing the Cayman Islands are Team Yahoo/Plenty Trouble, a combined team that received a wild card entry thanks to their consistent performances during the qualifying rounds.
The team is made up of experienced J/22 sailors Bruce Johnson, Joel Bushfield, Mark Edmunds and Martin Couch, all regular racers in the local J/22 fleet. They have represented the Cayman Islands at the Montego Bay Jammin’ J/22 Regatta and the ISAF Nations Cup Match Racing qualifier in St Thomas USVI and the ISAF World Sailing Games.
There are four international teams in the KPMG International Invitational J/22 Regatta – two from the US and one each from the UK, Jamaica and a joint Puerto Rico/Italy combination.
Jamaica is represented by a team of J/22 sailors from Montego Bay Yacht Club (MBYC), Richard Hamilton, Jacqueline Hamilton, Peter Harper and Juan Lago.
All have competed at the J/22 Worlds and Harper and Hamilton have each won the MBYC Easter Regatta. Harper also has won the Royal Jamaica Yacht Club Spring Regatta several times. All four team members have competed at Antigua Race Week. The Jamaican team also competed in the first KPMG International Invitational Regatta, which was held in Cayman in 2006, and finished fifth.
The first US team represents the Manhattan Sailing Club, which was created in the 1980s to reintroduce sailing to New York harbour. The club’s location is ideally nestled in America’s Cup legend Dennis Conner’s North Cove Marina next to Wall Street.
The Manhattan Sailing Club is represented by Danielle Gallo (skipper), a creative consultant and founder of American Women’s Yacht Racing who skippers the only all-female team in the Tri-State area.
Gallo is joined in the KPMG Regatta by: tactician/trimmer Stephen Yip, a portfolio manager, who has raced One Design keelboats for the past 20 years; Arielle Jamil (spinnaker), a yacht manager and yacht rigging expert; Margot De France (spinnaker) a healthcare equity specialist; Chris MacDonnell (bow), a civil engineer; and Parsons Brinckerhoff (foredeck).
The second US team, Quantum Sails Texas, is skippered by Terry Flynn, a one design sailmaker. In the J/22 Class he has won six North Americans, five Midwinters, one World Championship and numerous other regional regattas. He is joined by two Cayman Islands sailors – David Carmichael and Paul Johnston, who were members of the victorious ArgyBargy crew in the 2006 KPMG International Invitational Regatta in Cayman.
The UK is represented by a team from the Royal Burnham Yacht Club (RBYC) – Andy and Sally Wise and Stephen and Jo Adams. All four members participated in team racing between the RBYC and the CISC in J/22s in Cayman in 2003.
The Paperotto Sailing Team, a true international affair, was set up in 2007 by Eric Tulla of Puerto Rico, Suzanne La Placette of the US and Alberto and Susanna Predieri of Italy.
The team comprises Tulla, Predieri, Italian Giuseppe Albano and Caymanian Jane Moon.
There are numerous race officials, led by principal race officer Peta Adams and assistant race officer Tomeaka McTaggart.
The Committee Boat team is joined by Judy Bullmore, Denise Couch and Helen Stephenson. Other Race Committee boats are manned by Andrew Moon, Ken Holland and Kelly Hill (Windward Mark), John Yeo, Doug Murray and Peter Osborn (Gibe Mark) and Denis and Sammy Murphy (Leeward Mark).
The International Judge Boat will be manned by Gilmour Manual, Alan Roffey, Eduardo Bernal and Mark Clarke, who will also perform Protest Committee duties.
A number of other boats will also be out on the water for the regatta including photography and media (Gary White and Mark Macfee), spare parts, lunch and water delivery (Pamela McDonough and Janie Fleming) and spectator boats (Jim Knapp & Judy Van Liere and Clive Bodden).
The overall regatta organisation is being handled by Jane Moon, Lindsey MacFee, Pamela McDonough, Peta Adams and Andrew Moon, who organisers estimate that more than 100 people are involved in the event in one way or another.
The sponsors comprise KPMG, Sunset House, Harbour House Marina, Kirk Freeport and the Cayman J/22 boat owners with assistance from In Focus Photos, CISC, Cable & Wireless, Avis Cayman, English Bakery, Subway and Flowers Bottled Water.
Anyone interested in being part of the regatta should contact Heather Bradley at CISC at [email protected] or 979 7913. Space is available on spectator boats and it is recommended that people book in advance.