|The Bahamas Investor Magazine
July 3, 2008
July 3, 2008
The sport of kings may be horse racing, but another kind of royalty pursues the sporting life on the open seas.
The pursuit of excellence in sailing brought world-class yachtsmen from seven countries to Nassau in March of this year for one of the most prestigious events on the international sailing circuit—the 5.5 Metre Class World Championship. The Bahamas launched three boats and sailed away with some glorious rewards of its own.
Adding to the cachet of the exclusive, 12-day tournament were members of the sailing world’s elite, all of them fighting for gold and country in three different regattas—the World Championships, the Scandinavian Gold Cup and the Duke of Edinburgh Cup.
“The water was ideal for racing,” said Alexander Ferner, one of the two sons of Her Highness Princess Astrid, Mrs Ferner, of Norway, who took part in the action. “This is a very beautiful place, and we had a good time here.”
His brother Carl-Christian agreed, as did others. “It is a distinct pleasure to come to such a beautiful part of the world,” said medal-winning Kristian Nergaard of Norway, “to sail in some of the most stunning water to be found anywhere.”
The slate of top contenders included reigning world champions Flavio Marazzi of Switzerland and Nergaard of Norway. Bahamian yachtsmen have earned the respect of their peers during the last 50 years, so this wasn’t the first time that they rubbed shoulders with the glitterati of international sailboat racing.
The Bahamian teams featured award-winning helmsmen Gavin McKinney and Craig Symonette, the son of the late Sir Roland Symonette, the first premier of The Bahamas and a founding member of the Nassau Yacht Club. They proved again that Bahamian sailors can compete with the best, even against wily salts like Marazzi, a four-time World Champion since 2002, and Nergaard, who has taken four medals for that same title—three gold and one silver—since 1993.
Despite the stiff competition, McKinney and his John B bagged the 2008 Bahamas Open/Duke of Edinburgh Cup championship and also won bronze in the World Championships. The coveted gold went to Nergaard’s Artemis XIV and the silver to Marazzi’s Ali Baba.
This was McKinney’s fifth bronze medal in the 5.5 Metre World Championship since 2000. Although missing out on silver, he said that he and his crew were satisfied with the bronze medal. “At the end of the day we do have a medal,” he said, “so we’re happy about that.”
Symonette and his crew sailed Silver Fox to a ninth-place finish in the World Championships, and the third Bahamian boat, Absolutely, captained by Thierry Huguenin, came in fourteenth. “Overall, we did very well,” said John Lawrence, the regatta chairman. “We should be proud of our accomplishments.” Symonette, who was also one of the regatta organizers, said: “It was a great week. We look forward to being part of future competitions for years to come.”
Many believe that Nassau really is the perfect place for world-class sailing events, and this year’s 5.5 Metre World Championship contributed a great deal to that assessment.