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At the Annual General Meeting (AGM) of the Antigua and Barbuda Sailing Association (ABSA) last month, the members unanimously elected Karl James OLY MBE as the new president.

In a milestone moment for the association, Geoffrey Pidduck, founder of the organisation over 30 years ago, informed the members of his intention to stand down. The obvious choice to take on the role was Antiguan sailor Karl James who was recently awarded an MBE by Queen Elizabeth II for his contribution over 35 years to yachting in Antigua and Barbuda.

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

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, into the sport to create a lifelong love for sailing.

Speaking on his new role as president of the ABSA, James says “I am very aware of the incredible work Geoffrey Pidduck has done over the years to get the ABSA to this level.  I am very thankful for his tremendous support and friendship throughout. I am focusing on carrying his work forward for the benefit of the sport of sailing in Antigua. I intend to bring to the ABSA my experience as an Olympic athlete, professional superyacht crew, sailing Coach, regatta committee member and manager of Sailing Youth Development programs.  I give myself the same advice that I give to my junior sailors: “Be willing to learn, create goals, keep options open and talk to people in the industry.  We are all ambassadors for Antigua. Give back and help others to grow in our community.” 

The outgoing president, Pidduck, has been nominated by ABSA for Sportsman of the Year for his contribution to the sport of sailing and its development in Antigua and Barbuda.