In a night marked by cheers and a bit of reluctance, the Antigua Yacht Club (AYC) bid farewell to the familiar faces that had steered its course for a decade and welcomed a new board during a charged Annual General Meeting.
The change in leadership, though lacking the grandeur of Buckingham Palace, left members stunned and delighted as the results of the elections were announced by Richard Fear, Chairman of the Nominating Committee. The overwhelming support for the new directors reflected a collective desire for change, despite some long-term members expressing initial reluctance.
Outgoing Commodore Franklyn Braithwaite, who had served for the past ten years, expressed his readiness for a change while ensuring continuity by remaining on the board for another year. The torch has now been passed to Richard Archer, the newly appointed Commodore, who extended his gratitude to the outgoing board for their hard work.
The new board stepped forward with three new flag-officers and changes of role within the board.
Key roles underwent a shuffle, with Janie Easton assuming the Vice-Commodore seat and Richard Fear stepping into the Rear Commodore position. Notable changes included the appointment of Tommy Patterson as Fleet Captain and the transformation of the Power Boat Captain into the new ‘Younger Members Captain,’ underscoring the board’s commitment to a diverse and energetic vision.
The unanimous votes reflected a resounding call for change, and the addition of young blood like Jules Mitchell as Younger Members Captain and Shawn Malone as Director at Large signaled a promising shift in leadership.
The new Social Director, Susan Elliot Beattie, marked the end of a social hiatus and will be supported by Zoë Carlton and Lorraine Mitchell-Gaillard. Rachael Greensmith takes on the role of Honorary Secretary.
Amidst these changes, Clarence Pilgrim, a seasoned hand from the Ministry of Trade, takes on the role of Treasurer, seamlessly blending government expertise with the club’s financial stewardship. Lorraine Mitchell-Gaillard remains the Dinghy Fleet Captain, ensuring continuity for the youth program, while Alexis Howard retains the Classics Yacht Captain role. John Gaillard, Lorraine’s partner, was formally appointed as the House and Grounds director.
Previous Rear Commodore Ashley Rhodes summed it up, “that,” he said, “is a great board.”
Commodore Richard Archer acknowledged the challenges ahead, stating, “The new board has a lot to do.”
Meanwhile, Clare Cupples, the previous Vice Commodore, will remain on the Classics Regatta Steering committee along with Paul Deeth, Alexis Howard and Robyn Stout to build on the success of last year’s event which was held in Nelson’s Dockyard.
Among the top priorities is to work with the Falcone family to resolve the long-running dispute with the AYC marina over access rights and dockage. Access to the Marina docks is through the AYC car park for which the Marina pays an annual fee. The election of the new board provides an opportunity to finally settle where boundaries lie.
Carlo Falcone, who attended as a member, was reported as saying he was looking forward to working closely with the new board in a renewed joint partnership.
The board’s work will include social events, maintenance to the grounds, Saturday sailing to reinvigorate, regattas to plan, major international sailing events to host, and youth sailors to coach.
The AYC is the centre of sailing in Antigua, hosting many international and local events and bringing a new generation of young Antiguans who are representing the island on the international stage.