After sailing for 11 hours and 52 minutes, Trinidad and Tobago's Olympic Sailor Andrew Lewis completed his Wind Energy Challenge on Sunday 16 December 2012 at around 21:00.
Lewis, who undertook a personal challenge to sail from Pigeon Point Beach in Tobago to Maracas Bay in Trinidad, endured several obstacles but successfully finished the journey.
Lewis and his team planned the event for weeks, however on what was an otherwise beautiful day for beach goers, strangely presented the worst possible conditions for sailing. The 23-year old began the sailing challenge at 9:00 at Pigeon Point. However, it was evident from weather patterns that the day would have been dominated by very light winds.
Upon exiting the bay area, Lewis experienced what would turn out to be the norm of the day- a breeze that propelled him between 3-5mph. Lewis' estimated time for the sail was originally calculated to take 6 - 7 hours at an average speed of 8miles per hour. As he got further into the open ocean, tidal currents altered his direction, further hindering his speed. In addition to these two factors, Lewis experienced frequent stagnations, causing him to resort to rocking the boat to propel himself. Nevertheless, Lewis was determined to succeed, and insisted on continuing his journey.
At Maracas bay, a crowd of close to 40 persons, comprising of family, friends, sponsors and well-wishers, remained on the beach after waiting all day to welcome in the Olympic athlete. Some turned their cars towards the dark ocean and shone their lights to serve as a guide for Lewis. The T&T Coast Guard vessel, which followed Lewis for the entire journey, and also shone a light on him until he reached the shoreline. Lewis finally arrived at 20:52 to flares, an air horn and excited cheers from the supporters.
When asked about the journey Lewis remarked, "What a day I chose where there was absolutely no wind. With little wind to fill my sails, I resorted to rocking the boat and pumping my dagger board to get a forward motion. Those currents are so strong. I swore they were trying to take me back to Tobago. At many times I found myself battling against the current and lack of wind which made things extra difficult. I was determined to finish though. I needed to finish to prove to myself that I can do it and also to repay the faith of my family, friends and sponsors. I am always grateful for their support."
Special thanks to Bmobile, Atlantic, Oasis Water, The Sport Company of Trinidad & Tobago, Red Bull, Tourism Development Company, Budget Marine, The Trinidad & Tobago Coast Guard, The Trinidad & Tobago Air Guard and the Trinidad & Tobago Sailing Association.
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