Two of Antigua Yacht Club’s youth sailors; Rhone Kirby, Jules Mitchell and Coach Karl James were fortunate to have had the opportunity to attend the Byte CII North American Championship and 2014 Youth Olympic Games Qualifier in Jensen Beach, Florida which was held from 27th February – 3rd March, 2014.

Coach James said, “I am very proud to report that they both performed fantastically with Rhone Kirby finishing in 8th place overall and Jules Mitchell finishing a very respectable 16th.  There were 28 boats from 14 countries in the fleet.  That represents an incredible performance from both young men and they deserve to be very proud of themselves.”

Jules had a bit of a slow start but steadily improved as the regatta progressed.  Rhone Kirby performed well from the beginning but had two unfortunate incidents.  In the third race Rhone, along with several others, was a bit too aggressive on the start line and was scored OCS (over the start line early).  That resulted in a score of 29 points for that race, which wasn’t all bad because every sailor was entitled to discard one result.  That still left him in good standing.  However, Rhone was involved in an unfortunate incident at a mark in the sixth race and following a protest he was disqualified from that race.  That DSQ resulted in another score of 29 points which this time couldn’t be discarded.

Had Rhone not been disqualified from the sixth race, he would have easily secured a position for an Antiguan youth sailor in the 2014 Youth Olympic Games.  While it is very unfortunate, incidents and protests are part of the sport and in an Olympic qualifying regatta, sailors will do almost anything to qualify for the Games.

Unfortunately, due to finishing in 8th place with 63 points, Rhone did not qualify for the Games.

“I am so exceptionally proud of those two young men.  They have worked so hard and have improved tremendously recently.  Rhone was so close to qualifying for the Youth Olympics and my heart broke for him when he was disqualified from that race.  I felt he was in the right but the protest committee felt otherwise so that’s the decision we have to live with.  Competitors will do almost anything to secure one of the qualifying spots which makes the sailors exceptionally aggressive in this type of regatta.  But I can’t express how incredibly proud I am of Rhone’s performance.  Jules didn’t finish quite as high up the ladder but he too performed very well and I’m very proud of him too.  These two young Antiguan sailors have a fantastic sailing future James said in closure.

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