The region’s top regatta managers, yacht club representatives, race officials, and dinghy sailors are heading to English Harbour, Antigua next month to a new format event, Caribbean Sailing Week. The combined conference, regatta and training session will bring together a forum of sailing organisation and race management to the Caribbean islands and countries of Central America – with some competitive dinghy racing thrown in for good measure.
Caribbean Sailing Week will aim to combine a conference whose agenda will address the continuing progression of increasing the participation, successes, and inclusivity of home-grown sailors and events, together with the growth of attendance and reputation for excellent organisation of the region’s international regattas. The conference, which will be preceded by a Race Management Clinic on 15-17 October, and the Caribbean Dinghy Championships will take place at the same time.
The CSA Conference itself will open on 17 October and will run concurrently with the Caribbean Dinghy Championship. Sponsored by the fighters against the plastics in our oceans, Sailors for the Sea, the conference will embrace two days of discussion, presentations and strategising about regatta organisation, marketing, race management, measurement, and sailing development.
Key speakers will include Robbie Ferron, resident of Cole Bay, St Maarten, and the founder of the original CSA Conference format. He plans to review the potential that regional players have in order to make significant changes to how yachting in the Eastern Caribbean functions. “I will be providing some historical background and analyses of the positives and negatives of where the events and local sailing find themselves in 2019,” he reports. Robbie is one of the Caribbean’s greatest drivers of today’s sailing scene in the region. He is the founder of St Maarten Yacht Club and the St Maarten Heineken Regatta.
Elizabeth Jordan of Antigua is the founder and President of the National Sailing Academy Antigua which offers the opportunity for Antiguan school children to learn sailing free of charge. Explaining how she will be presenting the successes of the Academy and providing inspiration to others she says “We are approaching the end of year 10 and have now trained several hundred young people to sail as well as providing further training to give them the qualifications to look for careers in the sailing/yachting industry.”
From Puerto Rico, another longstanding contributor to the success of the Caribbean region’s sailing calendar is Jaime Torres. Now Race Manager of Antigua Sailing Week (ASW), he comments “I want to contribute to making ASW and every other Caribbean sailing event as great as it can be.”
Jaime will use the CSA Conference to outline his aims to continue to maintain and grow Antigua Sailing Week’s status by anticipating and meeting the needs of the racers, both owners and crews. “I would love to see the event grow in every racing class: owner-driven cruiser/racers and grand Prix boats, with charter fleet boats bringing in more people to sample the amazing combination of hardcore racing followed by a wonderful shore-side activity.”
One of the best-known sailing legends of the Caribbean Region, Peter Holmberg, will also be delivering a presentation on the overview of global racing events, although he will not be there himself as he is away in Europe at a Grand Prix event. The winning America’s Cup sailor and multiple Olympic medallist comments “The greatest aspect of the CSA organization is how effective we are at bringing all the players of the region together to share information, cooperate, and unite for the benefit of the entire Caribbean. We need to keep this feature prominent and strong.”
Paige Myatt from US-based Sailors of the Sea, the world’s only ocean conservation organization that engages, educates and activates the sailing and boating community toward restoring ocean health, will help attendees examine the way towards clean green regattas. Meanwhile, another stalwart of the race management structure, Tim Cross, will present his ‘big plan’ to improve the standards and capabilities of the island-wide network of sailing coaches and trainers.
Other key presenters from around the islands will also be adding their vital input to the agenda.
While the conference is underway, the Caribbean Dinghy Championship, sponsored by Seahawk Premier Yacht Finishes, will be taking place on the water right next to the venue at Antigua Yacht Club. Sailors from Caribbean Sailing Association (CSA) member clubs around the region will compete in the three-day series in a selection of dinghy classes for all ages, vying for the coveted Nations Cup. Trophies will abound for the classes, including women’s, and physically-challenged divisions, reflecting the equality and inclusivity of the event.
Entries have already been received from Trinidad, St Maarten, St Kitts & Nevis and Barbados with many others expected to follow in the next couple of weeks. A unique all-inclusive package is on offer to the participants, making the event even more attractive, including the provision of a boat, airport transfers, and all meals.