McLean’s Radium pipped by the Texan pro

The KPMG International Invitational J/22 Regatta finished, quite predictably with the American pro, Terry Flynn winning it. But at least Cayman boats took the next three places in the initial results.

The racing ran for three days until Monday and Donald McLean in Team Radium, with his wife Jennifer Ahearn and Alex Laing, came second. Cayman’s youth team, Fortis, led by sailing director Mike Weber, were third.

McLean, the experienced Caymanian who has raced at the Olympics, was always in contention but on the final day, Flynn’s superior experience told in Quantum Sails Texas. Flynn was joined by two Cayman sailors, David Carmichael and Paul Johnston. Boats from as far away as England, Puerto Rico, Italy, New York and Jamaica competed.

McLean is the president of the Cayman Islands Olympic Committee and has been a keen sailor for two decades. He was philosophical after. ‘We tried to race kind of conservatively and tried to get good boat speed and also tried to go in the right direction, that’s the biggest key, trying to stay in the wind. It was a very tough fleet and there were some good sailors and after the first day today we didn’t think we had a prayer but we had two good races and came back in the last one. We went from fourth to second in the last race.

‘Terry decided to go round the course a little better. As far as speed of boat is concerned, they weren’t faster than us, we were pretty much neck and neck but it also depends on which direction you go. Sometimes you can go left or right and you make a call and don’t get it right. Terry Flynn is a professional sailor who sails every day. We haven’t sailed together for the last four months. So I’m very pleased.’

McLean didn’t sail in the last KPMG sponsored event two years ago because his boat was still damaged from Hurricane Ivan. He’s planning to race again, but definitely not in the Beijing Olympics in August. ‘I will always race, it’s something I really enjoy. The Olympics is too time consuming and expensive. I did toy with doing it for a while but I can conclusively say now I won’t be doing it. But I would like to do a Central America Caribbean Games in 2010 or 2014. I’ve done two in the past.

‘We had four Cayman boats and the kids in Fortis did extremely well. They had a number of firsts and seconds and were impressive. Compass were a close fourth.’

The other Cayman boat was Tam Yahoo/Plenty Trouble.

McLean added: ‘This event was good for our sailors to get experience against international sailors and it was really good for our youth program. I’m very excited about that, the youths.’

Flynn said: ‘This is my first time in Cayman and I’ve enjoyed almost everything. The weather’s been gorgeous, the water’s good, the place has been great and the hospitality’s terrific. I doubt I’ll be able to get some Texans next time, I think I’ll have to stick with these guys but I expect there will be more Texans wanting to come down because it’s a great invitation.’