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24 December 2005, 09:39 am
Fun In The Sun
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St Lucia Christmas Sailing Festival
St Lucia

The second Christmas Sailing Festival began on December 21 with a skippers' briefing heralding three days of fun in the sun for Atlantic Rally for Cruisers (ARC) friends old and new. The first day's racing consisted of two races for serious sailors and the 'almost famous' festival treasure hunt for the fun seekers.
The racing class was fiercely contested by both local and ARC boats with local boat Whitea eventually taking line honours.

In the second race fortunes changed with ARC boat Flying Shadow taking first place and Whitea taking fourth. Treasure Hunt success went to yacht Vrijgezellig. It wasn't fun for everyone though. One intrepid competitor became adrift with the skipper helpless and stranded in a dinghy with a faulty engine he could only watch as his loved ones drifted into the horizon. Hero of the day was Robert DOUGLAS from Cat Aloo, who took the plunge and went after them to affect a much needed rescue. Well done Bob! He received the sportsman of the festival award on prize-giving day-and the gratitude of all aboard (and the one that wasn't) the stricken vessel.

The day ended at beautiful Marigot Bay with a party that only the Caribbean can throw. A steel band greeted crews on the docks and, of course, it just wouldn't be the Caribbean without copious amounts of rum punch. A sumptuous buffet followed-and more rum punch-followed by live music, more rum punch and then came the limbo. Suffice it to say that rum and limbo make for wonderful entertainment-as Dean MARTIN so aptly put it 'Memories are (indeed) made of this!' Competitors awoke on Wednesday for an unusual start to the day's events for fun cruisers. With crews moored in the bay, stranded skippers nervously (something to do with last nights rum punch?) fidgeted on the dock alongside their tenders. Why were they nervous? I hear you ask. Because access to the tender could only be gained by thawing out-then putting on-a frozen T Shirt. I laughed at the limbo, I cried at this! Ingenuity was never more practically deployed than with our stranded sailors-and their frozen clothing. A jolly good beating on the wooden dock proved most effective (that's the T-shirt and not the crews). The blowtorch and hot water bottle methods of defrosting-although creative-simply took too long. Ice gone and T-shirts on it was to be Flica who finished first in the fun cruise.

Racing continued from Marigot northwards-back to Rodney Bay. Whitea picked up the honours with Flying Shadow a close second. In the fourth race Whitea took her third festival victory with Flying Shadow second-again. As the sun dipped below the horizon The National Trust Park at Pigeon Island-the venue for the evening's activities-took on a Disney-esque atmosphere Organized purely for competitors, the event was a celebration of camaraderie, family values and good old fashion fun. Great food, refreshments and yachties, just being yachties, created the bon homme that is as much a part of the festival as sailing. I digress, it's Thursday, the final day.

More excellent racing, spinnakers flying and great fun. Local boat Whitea skippered and owned by Swiss ex patriate VOLKMAR was always the one to catch, and sure enough, another honour found it's way to Whiteas burgeoning trophy haul. Three thirds, a fourth and a fifth, gave ARC boat Blitz a well deserved third place. As the morning slipped into afternoon ARC competitors were invited to take part in a fancy dress sail past-with a prize for the best dressed boat of course.

First place went to the Christmas theme crew. Fenders were turned into Christmas crackers, life raft into a gift and boat into a sleigh replete with reindeer. Christmas celebrated it was now the turn of birthdays-suits! Not imaginative, I'll grant you that, but bare faced cheek? Full marks! The third placed crew wore nothing but a smile-and some strategically placed Festival logos-cut from T-shirts. Rumour has it that SLYC's manageress Michelle Ince, wife of Duncan, requested a re-run as Duncan had hidden the clubs' binoculars.

Thursday afternoon saw SLYC packed to the gunnels. A prize table heavy with prizes reflected the keen interest and commitment of the sponsors; Diamonds International, Cable and Wireless, Discovery at Marigot Bay, Heineken and with huge support from Jonathan POWELL from Peter & Co and a great trophy from Marigot's JJ. SLYC's festival brought home the spirit of yachting when one of the youngest crew members in the Festival, a yachtswoman of just one year collected her voucher (and applause) for a free dinner for the crew. This encapsulates what SLYC's festival is about-sportsmanship and enjoyment-for all.

Each participating boat received a prize and if you're already looking forward to next year's event here's the dates, December 20 and 22.
Event Media (As Amended by ISAF)
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