Paul de Souza is ILCA Bahamas Open National Champion 2024

IN a competitive mixed fleet of 28 sailors, defending champion Paul de Souza - head coach at the Bahamas National Sailing School - was crowned the ILCA Bahamas National Champion 2024.

The fleet was the largest in recent years and it consisted of both male and female and adult and junior sailors, with competitors from Nassau, Grand Bahama, Exuma, Eleuthera and Harbour Island.

It was a battle of the coaches for top three overall, with Martin Manrique from Eleuthera Sailing Academy placing second overall and Pedro Rahming, senior instructor at the Bahamas National Sailing School, placing third, all of whom sailed in the Olympic class ILCA 7 (full rig).

Eighteen-year-old Alvington McKenzie, originally from Exuma (and who currently trains with Sarasota Youth Sailing), would have been a challenger for Top 3 had he not had equipment failure in the first race and was subsequently unable to compete in the second race. Alvington will represent The Bahamas in the summer in the U21 Youth World Championships in Portugal. Awards were also presented to the top three sailors in both the ILCA 6 and the ILCA 4 (smaller rigs).

In the ILCA 6, 16-year-old Norman Cartwright and 15-year-old Eliza Denning placed 1st and 2nd respectively, with 16-year-old Ellanne Higgins one point behind in 3rd place. Norman was also the Top Junior and Eliza the Top Female overall. In the ILCA 4 (used primarily as a youth class and for lighter weight sailors) the top finishers were experienced Optimist sailors Mary Jac Nash (1st), Patrick Tomlinson (2nd), both representing Lyford Cay Sailing, and Joss Knowles (3rd) of the Exuma Sailing Club.

Lori Lowe, President of the Bahamas Sailing Association, noted ‘it is fantastic to see the growth of the ILCA class in The Bahamas and highlights the importance of junior sailing programmes both in Nassau and throughout the Family Islands to develop sailing talent in all ages and across The Bahamas.’

Norman Cartwright and Eliza Denning have previously qualified to represent The Bahamas at the 2024 Youth Sailing World Championships in Italy in July, which allows only one male and one female per country in the ILCA class. Six junior sailors (Mary Jac Nash, Sienna Jones, Eliza Denning, Joss Knowles, John Alexiou, and Craig Ferguson II) will also represent The Bahamas at the 2024 ILCA 4 Youth World Championships being held from 22-30 June in Portugal.

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