Young sailors prove their mettle on the water

The 2022 Antiguan national Optimist champion Emily Gaillard
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Story and photos by Edwin Gifford

Hotly contested races kicked off from the Antigua Yacht Club last weekend, bringing together the ‘crème de la crème’ of the nation’s young sailors.

The 19th National Lasers and the fourth Optimist Open took place on Saturday and Sunday.

“After the last two years of no national championship because of Covid, everyone who was keen to become the next national Laser champion of Antigua raced and the level of talent and competition was among the best I’ve ever seen competing for the title,” said Karl James, two-time Olympian and director of youth sailing at the Antigua Yacht Club.

“All the best Laser sailors were out racing. If you made one mistake on any particular race, you finished in the back of the fleet,” he added.

The winner was repeat champion Daniel Smit who James credited with “sailing smart and consistent”.

Conditions were excellent. On Saturday, shifty winds were gusting up to 18 knots out of the east and then on Sunday winds were again gusty but out of the south – an unusual wind direction for this time of year. 

Emily Gaillard claimed the 2022 Antigua National Optimist Champion title and was also the only girl racing in the Optimist fleet. Emily, along with three other ‘Opti’ sailors who competed over the weekend, will be going to the Optimist World Championships this summer in Turkey. 

And the winners were:


1st – Daniel Smit

2nd – Rhone Kirby 

3rd – Jules Mitchell 


1st – Tirique Adams


1st – Emily Gaillard 

2nd – Patrick Greensmith 

3rd – Tyden Jones 

Optimist Intermediate 

1st – Michael Groy

2nd – Imani John-Polanco

3rd – Matthew Leslie

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