Antiguan Sailor To Be Honoured by Queen Elizabeth

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Veteran sailor, Karl James
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by Carlena Knight

[email protected]

Veteran Antiguan sailor Karl James has created history as he will become just the second Antiguan athlete to receive an honour from the Queen of England.

James, in 2019, made the Queen’s New Year’s Honours List where he was selected to receive the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (MBE) for services to sailing and national development.

The MBE is one of five classes of appointment to the Order of The British Empire.

The awards ceremony which was originally scheduled in 2020 had to be postponed due to the rise in Covid-19 cases at the time in the UK.

A two-time Olympian in the Laser Class, James started sailing in Antigua at the age of 12, when the largest yacht in English Harbour was 60 feet long.

Since then, he has achieved multiple awards in various sailing classes, both as helmsman and professional crew, competing internationally in over 75 countries.

Observer media caught up with James a few days before he embarked on his journey to Buckingham Palace where he shared just how he felt when he first got the news about the honour.

“It’s quite a prestigious honour for one to receive. As I looked at some of the sportsmen and women or people who have received that honour, you know, you feel that you are really being recognised at the highest level,” James said.

Meanwhile, competition is only part of his contribution to the sailing community.

In the greater Caribbean, he is recognised as a pioneer in sailing education, holding the position of manager of the Dinghy Sailing Program at the Antigua Yacht Club for almost 30 years.  He devotes his efforts to developing local youth aged six to 25 in the sport to create a lifelong love

He also played a major role in Antigua and Barbuda’s hosting of the Optimist World Dinghy Championships.

James will now join prestigious company, as national hero and world-famous cricketer, Sir Vivian Richards, is the only other Antiguan athlete to be honoured by the Queen.

“That is pretty special because when one looks at all the people who practice sports and who has achieved in sports and to be the second Antiguan to receive the Queen’s honours, it’s extremely special. Just when you think that all your work may be unseen within your country and then someone from overseas would have thought that this work you have done deserves to be honoured in that way then it’s a very special thing,” he added.

The ceremony will take place in London on Tuesday.

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