Strong winds proved to be a challenge for the competitors in the National Carnival Bands Association's Carnival Queen and King semifinal competition at the Queen's Park Savannah, Port-of-Spain, on Tuesday night.
Regardless of their costume size, all 40 competitors were affected in one way or another by the wind, which displaced and knocked off different elements of their presentations and in some cases caused irreparable damage to competitors' hopes of qualifying for the finals.
Many of the masqueraders were forced to sacrifice their usual dancing as they had to hold on tight to their costumes which moved with the wind like sails on a boat.
The first contestant in the Queens category, Kimberly Patterson-Lewis, was the worst affected, after the back-piece of her costume The Beginning, which she carried on her back without the aid of wheels, fell on top of her as she took her first steps on stage.
Even after her assistants rushed to her and helped her back to her feet, Patterson-Lewis was unable to continue and was assisted off the stage. Although she was a crowd favourite, with her costume providing comic relief as it depicted an ovary surrounded by sperm, she did not qualify because of the malfunction.
In the Kings category, Ted Eustace suffered a similar fate when his costume Saramanga-D Wolf Bat–the largest in the competition–toppled on its side as he attempted to manoeuvre in front of the judges.
Eustace's brother Marcus, who designed the costume costing over $120,000, responded quickly with a team of assistants.
After a minute-long struggle they were successful and Eustace was able to resume.
Unfazed by the ordeal, Eustace, whose brother Curtis holds the record for the most Carnival King titles, then jumped, waved and wined at the crowd, who responded with a standing ovation. He eventually placed fourth with 403 points.
Despite the issue of the wind, the spectators present–a major improvement on the dismal turnout from last week's preliminaries–were still treated to a good show as many of the contestants added pyrotechnics and other elements to their presentations.
Forerunners in the preliminary round, including veteran masqueraders Roland St George and Gloria Dallsingh, maintained their previous positions and qualified for the 10-member shortlist for tomorrow's final.
Ravi Lakhan's presentation The Emperor, a mammoth hand-painted tiger with moving limbs wading through oversized savannah grass, jumped 16 places as he copped first place with 419 points. Second was Patrick Roberts Jr, who catapulted himself from 14th in the prelims with a much-improved performance. St George, whose costumes seemed to be ruffled by the wind, dropped from first to third place.
The top-ranking masquerader in the Queens preliminaries, Roxanne Omalo, dropped into second place behind Dallsingh, although her eerie costume, The Phantom Queen, was still the clear crowd favourite.
Stephanie Kanhai, the only competitor in both categories who opted to do their presentation on stilts, qualified for the final with 399 points as she danced with the grace of a ballerina despite being over ten feet off the ground.
The finals, dubbed Big Friday, will kick off at the Savannah at 7 pm tomorrow.
1. The Emperor - Ravi Lakhan - 419
2. Mr Slick - Patrick Roberts Jr - 406
3. Ahtwaje - Roland St George - 403
4. Saramanga-D Wolf Bat - Ted Eustace - 403
5. I Orgi Tou Posidona (The Wrath of Posidon) - Wade Madray -3 98
6. Wild Fire - Marlon Rampersad - 398
7. Andrus Warrior King and his Protector - Raymond Mark - 391
8. Pan in D Mas - Clyde Bascombe - 391
9. Death-Desolation Despair-Keeper of Souls - Fareid Carvalho - 383
10. Zatog, The Invincible - Fernando Marchan - 376
1. Ocean Waves - Gloria Dallsingh - 427
2. The Phantom Queen - Roxanne Omalo - 424
3. Jewels of Atlantis - Savitri Holassie - 416
4. Beauty and Freedom - Kay Mason - 409
5. The Passion of Valentine - Charmaine Enile - 400
6. The Sweet Waters of Africa - Stephanie Kanhai - 399
7. Andromeda Mystical Queen - Jonell Dick - 394
8. Masquerade-The Gathering - Tracell Frederick - 394
9. Avi-Queen of the African Village - Alendra Bailey - 392
10. Charlotte's Cameo - Peola Marchan - 390.?