By BRENT STUBBS
Senior Sports Reporter
While Brooks Miller and his Tida Wave ran away with the A class title in the inaugural Best of the Best Regatta, Stefon Knowles carried home the titles in both the B and C classes respectively on board the New Susan Chase and the Whitty K.
The exciting four days of competition came to a close last night on the impressively transformed Montagu Bay with both Governor General Dame Marguerite Pindling and Prime Minister Perry Christie making the joint trophy presentation.
Minister V Alfred Gray, whose Ministry of Agriculture and Local Government was responsible for hosting the event, which attracted all of the winners of the various regattas in the Bahamas this year, joined the list of dignitaries.
Also present for the ceremony were Rev Philip McPhee, the consultant for sailing at the Ministry of Agriculture and Renee Glinton, permanent secretary.
After emerging out of the three days of elimination races with two firsts and a third place, the Tida Wave surged ahead early in the race and managed to get out of the way of a near collision between the Lady Muriel and Original Courageous as they headed around the first buoy.
“It was close for a while, but once we got out there in the clear, it was kind of easy sailing after that,” Miller said. “It feels great. We were successful. The competition was good, but my crew was outstanding as usual. I have to give most of the praise to them. They do most of the work. I just try to help along the way.”
From his vantage point ahead of the pack, Miller said he managed to get a glimpse of what transpired behind him as the Lady Muriel and the Original Courageous nearly collided.
“We kind of witnessed it and I talked to both skippers to try to find out what had happened,” Miller said. “According to the Courageous, they didn’t have enough space going to the buoy so they had to go on the opposite side. I asked the Lady M if they gave them enough buoy room and they said yeah.
“When you are sailing, you need to be fair and give the other guy his rights. That’s only fair, that’s the only way I know how to sail.”
Heading towards the first buoy, the New Courageous was closer but she just missed going around the marker to avoid hitting the Lady Muriel. After missing the buoy, the New Courageous had to circle around again to clear it and by then, the Lady Muriel was trying to chase the Tida Wave.
Although a protest was lodged, the result was not available up to the time of the trophy presentation and Glinton said they would hold of issuing the prize money until it was sorted out.
However, captain Emmit Munroe declined to stick around for the outcome. He refused to make any statement, only to say that he didn’t intend to stick around because what happened to his Original Courageous was unfair.
In the B class, Stefon Knowles and the New Susan Chase was too far gone for either second place Ant’s Nest of the Queen Drucilla to catch her. They were the three boats, who emerged from the first three days of elimination in that same order.
And even though his Whitty K was able to bounce back and pull of the final race in the C class to clinch another title, Knowles said it didn’t go down without some controversy as well.
Apparently, the Sacrifice, which had emerged as the top boat during the first three days of competition, lodged a protest claiming that the Whitty K got a bailer from one of the local boats watching on the side.
But Knowles said there wasn’t any rule against them getting assistance because they were in “jeopardy.” He said if they didn’t get the bailer, they could have sunk. He pointed out in the rules that they were in their rights to get the assistance.
The Aliv Thunderbird came in third.
As for the B class, the New Susan Chase was unbeatable, winning all four races, including the finale on Sunday.
“There’s nothing they could do with her,” Knowles said of the New Susan Chase. “We expected to win. The Ant’s Nest nor the Queen Drucilla were no match for us.”
After experiencing their share of problems in the in the A class where they missed the buoy in the first race and had three men overboard in the second race, Knowles said he just missed a complete dominant of the entire regatta.
“In the first instance, the bowman was sitting around with the jib and I can’t see the buoy in such a big boat,” Knowles said. “So I have to listen to who is up front and they made a bad call. We didn’t go around he buoy, so we had to go back around.
“That bowman got fired on the high seas, so we had to use another bowman in the second race. We had two boats coming on starboard and instead of going up another 50 or 60 feet, we had some difficulties when we went around it and we missed it again.”
Unfortunately, Knowles said he had no other choice but to fire that bowman too. But he noted that because there was “no money involved,” when he meant he fired them, he could only remove his best friend and his brother from the bow.
Had it not been for problems experienced, the 33-year-old Knowles, the second youngest skipper in the regatta, said it was the sixth time in a row that he won two out of the three races in the regatta.