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Tuesday 22nd March 2011

Tanner Jones of Antigua was very proud to accept the trophy for best J-boat at the recent St. Maarten Heineken Regatta with his J-30, Blue Peter, built in 1979.  Notwithstanding Blue Peter’s age, she beat two hot J-122s and several other J-boats for this prestigious award.  Tanner was probably as surprised as anyone else when he heard Robbie Ferron call his name to accept the award!


Blue Peter followed closely by Biwi Magic.

Born in Pembroke, Ontario, Canada, Tanner moved to Antigua from Yellowknife with his partner, Shari Potts in 2006.  Tanner and Shari had never sailed before but when Lawrie May took them on an afternoon sailing adventure from Jolly Harbour to St. John’s Harbour and back soon after their arrival in Antigua, they were hooked!  The following week, Lawrie told Tanner that he was going to sell Blue Peter and Tanner didn’t hesitate for a second before saying he would buy her!

Tanner and Shari didn’t want to waste any time in learning to sail and they were soon convinced to participate in weekly Saturday afternoon races hosted by Jolly Harbour Yacht Club.  In the first year Tanner wasn’t confident helming the boat so Iain Mellows was the helmsman most of the time, with Tanner practicing from time to time on Saturdays.

In the second year, Tanner was feeling a little more confident so took over the helm from Iain while Shari took over running the pit and jib.  It was a huge learning curve for both of them!  During the JHYC Valentine’s Regatta in 2007, they flew their spinnaker for the first time and Shari had her initiation into the world of spinnaker trimming.  They only finished 4th in their class but were the fastest spinnaker boat.  This experience set the hook a little deeper – and they loved the speed.  They picked up crew when needed and learned something from everyone who came on the boat.

Tanner’s second year on the helm saw great improvements and he began to learn more than just basic helming.  Thanks to Saturday sailing and all the helpful sailors in and around Antigua, they started to pick up important sailing techniques and develop racing tactics.  Blue Peter finished in 4th place in both the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta and in Antigua Sailing Week that year and they did really well in all of their other races.  They spent more time sailing on other people’s boats so they could broaden their experience, including participating in the first RORC Caribbean 600 (finishing 1st in class), racing in St. Maarten on the Sunfast 20’s (usually finishing last) and on the International Dragons in Antigua (also finishing last!).  All were great learning experiences that helped to make them better sailors.

In Tanner’s third year on the helm, they got a good crew together and practiced hard over the summer months.  All the crew were new to sailing but they entered every event they could and for the most part did very well.  That year Blue Peter, along with Tanner and Shari, had to miss the Heineken Regatta due to the birth of their first son, Carrack.

Again in Tanner’s fourth year on the helm, they practiced every Saturday and had a few crew members from the previous year such as Peter Cogan and Randy Glasgow who made it easier to train new recruits.  They also had a new crew member in a modified car seat at the back of the boat – their infant son, Carrack.  But Carrack slept for at least half of every race and when he was yelling it wasn’t for sail trim but for food or drink!

As time went on, Tanner took everyone’s advice on sail trim and tactics and put it to use.  They flew their spinnaker at every opportunity and last year managed to win their class in the Jolly Harbour Annual Regatta, the AYC High Tide Christmas Series, the Nelson’s Pursuit Race, the AYC ‘Round the Island Race, the JHYC Valentine’s Regatta, the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta and were 5th in Antigua Sailing Week.  They almost hadn’t made the start of the last race of the Heineken Regatta because a boat had hit theirs in the night and broken the tiller off.  Hasty repairs were made with duct tape, wire and wood splints and they did make the start line, although a little late!

The fifth year was much the same as the fourth but again Blue Peter had new crew and the youngest member of the team, Carrack, was much more difficult to keep in his seat – he wanted to sit on the rail with everyone else!  And the newest member of the family, Tyden, came along who will soon be taking over Carrack’s place in the seat at the back of the boat.

Winners at the 2011 Heineken Regatta in St. Maarten.

In the 2011 Heineken Regatta, Blue Peter entered the Commodore’s Cup on the Thursday for the first time and they were delighted with a 2nd-place finish.  But the highlight of the year so far was passing half of the fleet on the final day of the Heineken Regatta by sailing close to shore where the wind filled in before anywhere else.  That led to a Class win and the well-deserved trophy for best J-class boat!

Tanner and Shari have had a wonderful five years on Blue Peter with their various crew and the expansion of their family with the addition of two sons.  A large number of people have contributed to their success in various ways, but those people are too many to name individually here so Tanner and Shari extend one big thank you to everyone who has contributed so much to their learning curve, pleasure and success over the years.  And a special thank you to their loyal sponsors over the years, Adam and Derrek Barrett of JHR Caribbean Real Estate.

After learning so many sailing styles from others Tanner and Shari are now focusing on perfecting their own style.  And so far it’s working for them!!

Article by Tanner Jones and Kathy Lammers.
Photos compliments of Tanner Jones.

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