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What an insult to the proud sailing youth of Bequia


Editor: I was keenly disappointed to read, in today’s edition of the otherwise admirable Searchlight Midweek, the unsigned “Media Watch” item on your Opinion page. I realize that everyone is entitled to an opinion, but this person’s opinion is a direct insult to the hundreds of visitors who come from overseas to participate in and to watch the yacht races at the now 34-year-old Bequia Easter Regatta,{{more}} as well as being highly offensive to all the Bequia people, old and young, who work to uphold the generations-old tradition of double-ender boat races by designing, building, maintaining and racing in these beautiful craft, year on year — a seafaring heritage of which every Vincentian should be proud.

In terms of numbers of participants, the Bequia Easter Regatta is one of SVG’s largest sporting events, attracting up to 50 yachts, with an average crew of at least four persons, and up to 30 or more double-enders, with two to six crew each. What other annual sports event in SVG boasts some 300 competitors, locals and visitors, in one single event? The Bequia Easter Regatta is recognized by the Caribbean Sailing Association and in terms of international yacht tourism awareness, the regatta is one of the best-loved and most prestigious in the region. Aside from the competitors, people come from all over the world to view it, and our Minister of Tourism spoke about the importance of yacht tourism at the Prize-Giving Ceremony. The revenue to SVG, and to Bequia in particular, is substantial. Yet these “unknown yachts”, taking the trouble to sail here from Trinidad, Grenada, Carriacou, Barbados, St Lucia, Martinique and even farther afield to participate in our regatta, some of whom come every year, are denigrated by your anonymous correspondent in favour of “who wore what.” Really??

I was delighted to see numbers of Bequia children racing their home-made coconut boats at the Bequia Easter Regatta 2015, to see the slightly older (eight-to-15 years) young Bequia sailors racing in Optimist dinghies, and to see a terrific group of yet older Bequia youths racing “Iron Duke” — at well over 100 years, the oldest remaining seine boat in the entire country and a vital living piece of our national heritage — in the maligned and supposedly “already forgotten” double-ender races. What an insult to to the proud sailing youth of Bequia and their efforts — in training, maintaining their vessels, and racing — to say that “sexy revellers” deserve more attention in the media than they do.

Certainly, do have a “society page” if there is a demand for it, but there is absolutely no call to offend and insult our local and visiting sailing community at the same time.

That’s my opinion.

Sally Erdle, Editor

Caribbean Compass