Clarke sails best

The Cayman Islands Sailing Club hosted the Mark Clarke Laser Sailing National Championship over the weekend, named in memory of the avid laser sailor and former club member.

Sponsored by Compass Marine and Zhik, the strong winds, which saw competitors contend with 25-30 knot gusts and large waves, provided for a challenging event for the 16 sailors who took part in the two-day event.

The competition accommodates the three classes of laser – 4.7, radial and standard – and allows for sailors using varying sail sizes to compete in a form of handicapped scoring competition.

Allena Rankine put in an amazing performance in her first nationals since moving up from the optimist fleet, placing first in the 4.7 class and securing third place in the overall rankings.

Raph Harvey, head coach at the sailing club and defending 2013 national champion, placed first in the standard class but came second in the overall rankings.

Andreas “Shane” McDermott, aged 16, became the youngest-ever national champion, putting in an impressive performance and challenging the fleet and his coach throughout.

A mention also goes to participants John Bodden, sailing in the competition 35 years after winning the first National Laser Championships in 1980, and Jenny Smith, new to competitive racing, who outlasted some of the more seasoned sailors to complete her first competition.

The event provided an opportunity for McDermott and his youth teammates Florence Allan and Jesse Jackson to hone their skills ahead of the Central American and Caribbean Games in Veracruz, Mexico, which start this weekend. They will represent the Cayman Islands, with coach Kelvin Brown accompanying the team.

Meanwhile, the J22 sailing fleet at the Cayman Islands Sailing Club marked Breast Cancer Awareness Month by asking sailors to think pink for the second stage of the recent Winter Series. Teams paid a donation to wear pink, and during races could undertake penalty turns on each leg or pay a fine. With the high winds and a number of crew members failing to stay onboard their respective boats, the fine option proved popular.

The event raised $500 for the Breast Cancer Foundation.

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