REPORT OUT OF THE DAILY HERALD 17 JUNE 2014:
ORIENT BAY—Up and coming sailing talent Rhone Findlay’s blossoming career path remains on track with another entry to add to his résumé, winning Radial Class and placing fifth in the 24-boat fleet at the 25th Heineken Light Caribbean Open Laser Championships this weekend
The self assured18-year-old won all eight races, after discarding one over early. Much of the time he was racing up at the head of the fleet with seasoned Open Class veterans, defying big swells and E.S.E winds gusting to 20-22knots on Saturday.
It probably wasn’t as easy as it looked on paper, and Findlay agreed.
“It was challenging and I had a lot of people pushing me from behind. I wasn’t always in front,” he corrected.
Those behind vying to get a bite out of his boat’s transom were other talented young sailors from the region, making up a 12-boat Radial Class, the largest class of the regatta and a sign the older sailors are starting to slip into the shadows to make way for the new generation.
That will not sit well with Frits Bus who continues to stay in extraordinary shape at 58 years old; as lean and as hungry for success as ever. This year he placed third in class and second overall, trounced by a resurgent Olivier Bernaz who fought his way into second place in class and third overall with a string of second place finishes.
“I’m very happy with my performance,” said the experienced Bernaz who relished the blustery conditions of Saturday.
But nobody had the answer to Benoit Meesmaecker from St. Barths’s utterly dominant performance in winning Open Class where he won every single race, and like Findlay only had to discard one over early race.
Meesmaecker was pushed hard in every race by Bus, Bernaz and Dominican Republic’s Jorge Abreu who won the Masters Category and took fourth overall. Second in this class went to Francois de Corlieu from St. Barths and third Ian Mahon from Trinidad.
Out of the picture this year was Antigua’s Karl James who would have spiced up the competition with Meesmaecker. But the 5-time Open Laser champion was nursing an injured knee and instead brought with him four young protégés, Lewis Fitzgerald, Jules Mitchell, Rhone Kirby and Vincent Anfi who all raced in the Radial Class.
“It’s painful to watch not being out there,” rued James as he sat on the committee boat before jumping into a dinghy to coach his young hopefuls in between races. “This is Lewis’s first international regatta and the others have done a few small ones. But this one is a real test for all of them.”
Fitzgerald finished second in class behind Findlay and sixth overall, and Mitchell was third in class.
There were two prizes for the ladies in the Radial Class. Trinidad’s Kelly Ann Arrindell finished fourth overall in the class. The second prize went to Johanna Looser, 20th overall. Both girls sailed all nine races in difficult conditions.
Race Officer for the regatta was Laurey-Ann assisted by Andrew Rapley. The sailors complimented the race committee for the courses and smooth transition from race to race. There were no protests from the water.
The regatta was organised by St. Maarten Yacht Club and sponsored by Heineken Light, Island Water World, Sunsail, and Club Orient.