Stephanie Devaux-Lovell is representing Saint Lucia this week at the Laser Radial South American Championships in Paracas, Peru.
The 19-year-old is competing in the third Pan-Am Games 2015 qualifier for one of four spots at next year’s hemispheric event. There are 10 different nations in contention for those four spots, and the South American Championships includes 46 radial sailors with the boys and girls all racing together.
With 12 races scheduled over the course of four days, competition got underway on Saturday. With long, strong, gusty winds, building up to 15 knots throughout the race, Stephanie got off to a rough start, failing to accelerate off the line. Working her way from the back of the pack, however, the Gros Islet native used her downwind speed to pick off her rivals one by one, eventually crossing the finish line in 22nd place.
The Saint Lucian teenager got off to a better start in the second race, ending in 17th position, and then ended the opening day fighting back from the mid thirties to end Race 2 in 20th overall. Unfortunately, Stephanie was disqualified in her best race of the day, thanks to a protest by a Chilean competitor. With nine more races to sail, and the opportunity to discard her worst result, there is still all to compete for.
Following the first day of competition, coach Beth Lygoe, who represented Saint Lucia in laser radial at the 2012 Olympics, remained upbeat.
“The good thing is we get to discard our worst races and we have 12 races to sail,” she said. “Stephi knows she can sail well against these girls, and I know she is fast enough and smart enough around the race course. We will try to channel this frustration to sail well and sail fast with no mistakes.”