25th Angostura Tobago Sail Week
Happy Anniversary Tobago!
by Wilfred Dederer
It seems like only yesterday since I was in Tobago. But this year made a big difference: Regatta Promoters Ltd., the Trinidad & Tobago Sailing Association and main sponsor Angostura put on a spirited 25th Anniversary Party and I had the honor to be there!
As usual, I arrived late in the game. My main job at the Compass didn't let me sneak out earlier, so I arrived on Tuesday afternoon - just in time for the pre-layday party. Betty Davidson, Regatta Promoters' manager, filled me in with the latest regatta details. Results sheets for the previous two race days, which had been sponsored by the Yacht Services Association of T&T and Gulf Insurance respectively, got me up to speed quickly on the latest positions of the boats in the four classes: Charter, Cruiser, Cruiser/Racer and Racing.
During the first two days of racing, which I missed, Bruggadung II (Beneteau First), Storm (Riechel Pugh 44), High Tension/bmobile (Mumm 36) and Enzyme (Henderson 35) were all in hot competition in the 11-boat Racing Class. In the Cruiser/Racer Class's eight entries, Wayward (Beneteau Oceanis 432), Rapajam (Beneteau 53 F5), Petit Careme (Beneteau First 38) and Huey Too (Cal 40) were all battling for honours. In the eight-boat Cruising Class, with two of their four races done, the ladies from Business Machine (Heritage 36) were in a tight contest with Nirvana (San Juan 34) and Merlin (Excalibur 36). And in the Charter Class, with only four boats registered - Saga Boy (Jeanneau 50), Annie T (Jeanneau 51), Alimata 3 (Beneteau Cyclades 443) and Ambrosia (Bavaria 42) - with two more races to go, it was wide open. I should mention the crew on Annie T. For the third time, the guys came all the way from the Shetland Islands, 200 miles north of Scotland in the North Sea, just to take part in Tobago Sail Week!
Thirty-one boats in all came to race, fewer than last year, but that couldn't dampen the racing spirit. There was perfect weather for sailing, the sea was not too rough and steady northeasterly winds around 15mph prevailed in the first two days of the regatta.
But back to my arrival. At the pre-layday party, an enormous crowd filled the lawn of the Regatta Village at the Crown Point Hotel. Guitarist Joey Ng Wai from Trinidad and his group IMIJ & Co., with vocalist Michelle (you should see her dancing!) and guest musicians, had the crowd going till long after midnight.
Wednesday was Layday, celebrated with lots of drinks, food and games on No Man's Land beach. I went there by a regatta shuttle bus passing (with special permission) through private land, but normally you can access this secluded, white-sand beach only by boat. Participants, guests and sponsors had a lot of fun playing all kinds of silly games. Did you ever try to ski with three people on one pair of skis on sand while eating crackers and drinking water at the same time? Now you know what I mean!
After two days of partying, I was more than ready to go out on the water to take pictures of the remaining two race days from the press boat provided by the organisers - a big thanks to the motoryacht's owner Peter de la Rosa for taking me close to the action.
This year's course had changed from previous years, Peter Knox from the TTSA Management Committee explained: "We put the course about one and a half miles further north, the advantage being that there is considerably less current and more stable wind. The sailors seem really to like the new course off the Lagoon and Pigeon Point; the racing got even better than it already was."
On the Thursday, Charter and Cruising Class had one race, Cruiser/Racer had two races, and Racing had three. Wind was east-northeast, between 15 and 20mph, the sea on the starting line only a bit choppy - great conditions.
And no big surprises: Bruggadung II, with two second places and one first, held the number-one spot after the third day and, barring disaster, was en route to securing her place as overall winner. High Tension/bmobile was still in second place overall with one more day to go, with Storm just one point behind. The Cruiser/Racers ended up with Wayward having two firsts and Rapajam two seconds, placing Wayward way in the lead after three days, followed by Rapajam and then Huey Too. In Cruising Class, Business Machine came in first, with Nirvana and Merlin second and third, leaving Nirvana and Business Machine tied on points for overall first place going into the last day of racing. Our friends from Annie T in the Charter Class came second after Saga Boy; third was a tie between Ambrosia and Alimata 3.
After the daily prizegiving in the afternoon, the organizers had planned a Karaoke competition for the evening, so if you hadn't done too well in sailing you could give it a shot singing! I had an early night at the Hilton Tobago, my home away from home during the regatta - the sponsors took good care of me! Betty Davidson, heart and soul of the Regatta Promoters office, told me later that the Karaoke night was a hit, but I had come to take pictures, not to sing! At this point I also want to thank the ladies in the race office, Nancy, Phyllis and Renata, for their help.
On Friday, the last racing day, sponsored by the Hilton, the crews lined up again at the newly constructed floating dinghy dock to be shuttled to their boats. It was another glorious race day. The wind picked up even a bit more, sometimes close to 25mph. There was the usual shouting and whistling around the marks, the crews on the boats fighting to secure their final positions.
And when it was all over, at the Prizegiving Ceremony and Dinner on Friday night, it was clear that the Barbadian Bruggadung II, with Andrew Burke on the helm, defended their first-place standing going into the final race with yet another daily first, which, with a third and a fourth place, made them the Racing Class Overall Winner for a second year in a row. Second overall was the Trinidad-built Storm, skippered by Les Crouch, with 46 points. Storm's tactician John Gladstone says, "Everyone loves coming to Tobago; Les has made all of us crew very happy by bringing us here!" High Tension/bmobile, skippered by Trinidadian Michael Rostant came third with 54 points, closely followed by fellow Trinidad entry Enzyme, with skipper Paul Solomon, in fourth place.
In Cruiser/Racer Class, Wayward, skippered by Jerome McQuilkin, the President of the Trinidad & Tobago Sailing Association, won six out of eight races and, with just 11 points, was runaway overall first. Rapajam, skippered by veteran Barbadian racer Ralph Johnson, was overall second and Huey Too (skippered by Bernie Evan-Wong), a former Trini boat now based in Antigua, took overall third.
In Cruising Class, it was a clean sweep for Trinidad boats. Nirvana, skippered by Lloyd de Roche, broke the tie with Business Machine to take first overall, with skipper Marsha Farfan and her famous ladies-only crew taking overall second, followed closely by Rupert Grimshaw's Merlin in overall third.
In Charter Class, Saga Boy with skipper David Downie from the UK made first overall with two first and two seconds. The guys on Annie T were thrilled with their overall second (including first in Race 2!) beating Alimata 3, a French entry skippered by Raynee Portillo, into overall third.
After all prizes were given, speeches made, the dinner plates emptied and the last drop of champagne drunk, everybody was united in their opinion: What a great sailing week it was! But the organizers still had a last surprise for the guests: Denise Plummer, Trinidad's famous soca artiste, entertained the crowd with her greatest hits.
See you at next year's Angostura Tobago Sail Week - held from May 11th to the 16th, 2008.
Copyright© 2007 Compass Publishing