Race Cayman sailing regatta was another huge success with the annual event, now in its fifth year, featuring three different categories of sailboat.
The winds rarely disappoint in March and this year was no exception with strong winds and big waves on the Friday and Saturday.
Sunday saw lighter conditions and the sun shining on the blue waters of North Sound producing the perfect conditions that attract overseas sailors, many of whom return every year to take part in this event.
The J22 International Invitational regatta, which has been running since 2006, attracted competitors from Germany, USA, Uruguay, South Africa, UK and the Bahamas who raced against the top three qualifying teams from Cayman.
Mike Farrington raced Moonstruck, Tomeaka McTaggart skippered Ciao! And Bruce Johnson qualified Yahoo.
The racing was at times extremely tight and it was clear that the returning overseas teams had learned local knowledge from previous years.
The German team, skippered by Peter Karrie had clearly come to compete with their rival Mike Farrington whom they have met twice at the J22 world championships and who has won Race Cayman for the past four years.
Another returning skipper was Marc Fischer from the USA who drew the top boat in the draw and brought a strong team with him. After two days of racing, the final day dawned with Farrington again commanding a good lead and McTaggart holding on to second place.
The race for third place though was wide open with Germany, USA and South Africa all in with a good chance. It proved to be the Germans who took control sailing brilliantly to take two second places and claim third spot, one point ahead of the South African team.
Farrington sai: “This wouldn’t be the regatta it is without you guys coming to race us here in our home waters. It was tough out there. We are just grateful that you can escape the rigours of freezing winters and come and enjoy the racing in great conditions.”
The Open dinghy event saw Lasers racing alongside the Optimist fleet. The races were professionally run by first time race officers Gillian Allan and Jessica Jackson.
Conditions were challenging for the small boats with gusts of 20+ knots and big swells in the North Sound.
The youth sailors displayed fantastic determination and really showed their sailing skills in the tough conditions. The racing was close all weekend, but the lone adult, Rob Jackson, dominated on both days.
On the Sunday when conditions were much more manageable for the kids they were able to be extremely competitive and gave him a run for his money.
In the Optimist fleet Monique Hernandez dominated the racing and beat out the national champ, Charles Allen, and the East End champ, Will Jackson, to take first place.
The Laser fleet was won by Rob Jackson, closely followed by Pablo Bertran who displayed exceptional talent, determination and skill.
On the Saturday the big boats joined in the fun with the first Race Cayman Cruisers Cup up for grabs.
Eight boats made the start and added an awesome backdrop to the event as they crossed the start line surrounded by the smaller boats.
The conditions were equally tough for them with Artemis suffering rudder and then engine failure even before the start and having to be towed to safety.
Four other boats ended up retiring. Clive Bodden’s mighty catamaran Yahoo Yahoo loved the conditions and stormed around the course to first place, followed by Pie Sees 3 some 15 minutes behind on corrected time. Richard York’s Norhimar took third.
Throughout the event, competitors were treated to some great social events, a hallmark feature of Race Cayman.
Heineken and Jacques Scott were major sponsors putting on a sailing fiesta happy hour on Friday. The prize giving on Sunday was at George Town Yacht Club, a great venue for such an event.
Rick Caley, CISC manager, was enthusiastic about another great event. “We are thrilled to have Heineken on board as sponsors of the J22 class and hope to see Race Cayman grow to challenge other Heineken sailing regattas around the world,” he said.
“It’s our most prestigious sailing regatta of the year and next year we are hoping for an even bigger event as we are trying to get the Youth Olympic Games, North American Qualifying championships in the Byte class to be held here next March which will bring youth sailors from far and wide to sail in North Sound and try to qualify to go to Nanjing, China in August 2014.”
As always there were many people involved in making the event a success, far too many to mention but special mention was afforded to Peta Adams who once again ran Race Committee alongside International judge Gilmour Manuel to a very high standard.