By Dean “The Sportsman” Greenaway
Four were crowned National Champions on Saturday, when the BVI Dinghy Championships were held in the waters of the Sir Francis Drakes Channel across from Nanny Cay.
The annual event was making a comeback after the Covid-19 pandemic cancelled the 2020 edition and attracted 18 sailors in four divisions.
“It was a tricky day on the water for everyone,” noted Public Relations Officer Tamsin Rand of the event that had a record 76 participants in 2016 and 53 in 2017. “As squalls danced their way down the channel, the mark boat team were kept busy shifting the marks to keep the race track stable and the sailors were kept on their toes to make the best tactical decisions.”
Sailing instructor Rob Lind, told Island Sun Sports they were looking at getting people out sailing again as it’s been a while since last August’s dinghy event and it was good to get the boats back out.
“There was a lot of competitiveness, it was pretty good,” Lind noted. “Everyone was competing for the starts and some good mark rounding. We only had two Opti’s out today, but one had never raced before so it was good to see him get out on the water and get that kind of experience, so when Megan (Woodman) and I were watching him, we noticed that each race he was getting better and better and there was less that we had to tell him to do. So it’s a bit of experience and they grow from that. ”
After losing the first RS Feva Class race to Eddie and Ashley Brockbank, Kael Chalwell and Nici Haycraft snagged the next three to claim the division with eight points. Victoria Rowlette and Savion James clinched the final two races.
“It wasn’t really windy today so being the heaviest sailors in the Fevas, it was kind of hard but the winds picked up and then we pulled through and got the win,” Chalwell told Island Sun Sports, after they had spinnaker issues in the last race. “The sheet of the spinnaker got tangled with the halyard and caused the spinnaker to fall in the water. It didn’t affect us because we already had three wins. It feels good winning the division.”
Haycraft, who like Chalwell plays football, told Island Sun Sports that sailing is new to him despite coming from a sailing lineage. “I go out with my father sometimes, but I’m sticking to football,” he pointed out, noting that it got stressful a few times on the course. “We just think each other is wrong, so we have arguments sometimes, but at that the same time, we came through in the clutch and got first place. KO’s Victoria’s (Rowlette) winning streak of three years.”
Rowlette told Island Sun Sports that it was a good day, a good competition and she had sailed with James a few times in practice. “We had some issues with the spinnaker but we figured it out and it worked out in the end,” she said. “We definitely learnt strategies about how we wanted to sail and what we were doing right or wrong. We definitely improved throughout the day.”
Like Rowlette, James agreed it was a good day and learning opportunity. He said they had lots of issues with the spinnaker on the downwind leg. “Sometimes you have to be careful with the spinnaker on the downwind because it gets tangled up,” he said. “It was a little difficult but we pushed through.”
In the Laser Radial class, Max Reshetiloff claimed a clean sweep of first place finishes to take his first title in the class. In second place was Dwayne Palmer and in third place, competing at her first ever regatta, Marentia de Villiers.
The Optimist fleet was unfortunately just two boats. Jake Richardson, who began learning to sail less than a year ago, was competing in his first ever regatta. Sailing instructor Lind, said the youngster improved as the race day went on. The overall winner was Zaed Chalwell. Chalwell said he learnt that he’s not good in light winds and hase to work on his light wind skills.
Colin Ratbun, who took the bullet in four of the six races, won the Lasers division with seven points.
BVI Dinghy Championships Results. Laser: 1. Colin Rathbun , 7 points. 2. Sam Talbot, 13. 3. Ollie Alsop, 15. 4. Mike Hirst, 16. 5. Graham Stanton, 23. 6. Samuel Allen, 24. 7. Chris Haycraft, 29.
Laser Radial: 1. Max Reshetiloff, 5. 2. Dwayne Palmer, 11. 3. Marentia de Villiers, 14.
RS Feva: 1. Kael Chalwell & Nici Haycraft, 8. 2. Eddie & Ashley Brockbank, 9. 3. Victoria Rowlette & Savion James, 11.
Optimist: 1. Zaed Chalwell. 2. Jake Richardson.