Last evening we had a special dinner funded by the President of the Cayman Islands which counted as the opening ceremonies at an AMAZINGLY swanky place on the water. White linens, white chairs, beautiful vaulted wood ceilings and an ultra white lounge highlighted the restaurant we ate at. It was a wonderfully intimate gathering and one that can't doesn't happen often at beach volleyball tournaments. Since this event is new, they are looking to build it into their annual tourism plan and sell it as an island attraction. I love how they are bringing tourism into it as Grand Cayman has a lot to offer beach volleyball. A lot of heavy hitters were present and all the financial partners were presented awards of support, not to mention some crucial people in the set up and development of the event were awarded plaques of appreciation. A highlight for me was when our friend Carl Brenton was presented an award and all the Canadians and Cayman Islanders gave him a whooping standing ovation. He has been integral to the development and inspiration of this event but keeps on the low in terms of political activity. He also housed Ray and I and has been working at the ground level with the athletes for quite some time, plus, he hosts the social Sunday league on the island with over 200 rec players!
I literally ate 5 pounds of food. Incredible cuisine doesn't come by all that often so I feasted. I had two portions of the main dish as well as some wonderful desert plus a couple nightcap coffees at the end. I left satisfied to say the least and then connected with the President of the Cayman Island Volleyball federation on the way home. We discussed developmental programs and ways to incorporate a youth development camp prior to the event to spur base level sport growth locally while showcasing international players. I hope to be a long lasting partner in Cayman beach volleyball activity because this place is paradise and the people are off the charts nice. They are actually saying we are locals because we came so early! With the props we have been receiving, and apparently being "The Favourites" to win, we have hundreds of Canadian fans to cheer us to the top of the podium and I feel great about it.
Now for the competition. The venue shaped up really nice and we drew the fourth match of the day yesterday against St.Kits. A developmental team (most of the small islands are) but talented athletes none the less. We weren't concerned and knew by controlling our side of the net and our execution that we would be off to an excellent start.
They served Ray the majority of the time and he sided out moderately well aside from forgetting to pass a bit. They were deep float serving so we were able to control the pace of the game but as the match wore on we eased on our serving and depended on our superior defence to get us points. We had multiple spectacular plays and were able to get the crowd going a bit but all the energy in the second set was dulled by my nose bleeding! ARG!! When I woke up that morning my nose was plugged so I blew the hell out of it. Sadly, I burst some vessels and had a pretty messy bleed so apparently that seeped open during the match to force a medical timeout. People were concerned but it was a minimal injury and will not limit anything this weekend.
We won the match 21-16, 21-11 and are looking at a next match versus Puerto Rico 2 and then if all goes to plan, our winners semi-final will be against USA 1. A good draw for us and also a chance to take down a respectable USA team and prove the Canadians are making a push on the beach.
Our teams are more athletic and have superior team play so I am PUMPED to get back in the white fluffy to do our thing.