IT was a perfect debut for British Virgin Islands' Yohance Smith who won the 2019 Mr Caribbean title in the first appearance for him and his country at the competition.
The show was held on Saturday at the Shaw Park Cultural Complex, before scores of patrons.
The 23-year-old Smith, who hails from Tortola, spoke with Newsday backstage after his big win.
“I came here thinking I was the underdog, as nobody ever represented the British Virgin Islands in Mr Caribbean. I came, I conquered, and I came out successful... I’m very, very happy and I know I made my entire country happy, and especially my mom."
Smith said his country, although small, has been making a name for itself.
“We have been coming up into the world lately. The British Virgin Islands used to be a small speck on the map, now we have myself... the winner of Mr Caribbean, so this is one of the best experiences ever.”
Although this was his first regional pageant, Smith has participated in a number of shows in his hometown and Texas. He is currently the Mr Junior British Virgin Island, a crown he has been holding since July 2017, as the competition is held biennial.
He said the Mr Caribbean show was a good avenue for men to express themselves and believes naysayers need to educate themselves.
“The negative connotations that pageants are only for females is just so ignorant to me. I feel that males can represent in whatever avenue they feel necessary, it's just a way to express yourself. They should do it for them and not for the crowd. Put their best foot forward and show their true self on stage.”
Taking the second position was Trinidad’s representative, Johnathan Samuel, while there was a tie for the third spot with Jorvan Kervin Jno Baptiste of Dominica and Kofi Gilkes of Barbados.
The eight men were judged in individual categories such as magnificent wear, talent, swimwear, formal wear, best personality and an interview segment.
Overall winner Smith copped the top prize in the formal wear segment. Mr Photogenic was won by Dominica’s Jorvan Kervin Jno Baptiste. First place in magnificent wear and best swimwear were awarded to Trinidad’s Johnathan Samuel, Best Personality was won by Tobago’s Andel McIntosh and the award for Best Interview went to Timoy Titus of Antigua and Barbuda.
In the talent segment, Barbados’ Kofi Gilks left the audience in awe and rising to their feet to commend him for his performance on the saxophone of "My True Love," which encapsulated the feeling after a heartbreak.
There was no doubt that Gilks was the winner, as chants could be heard throughout the complex.
Chairman and founder of the event Marie Antoinette Mora described the show as amazing.
“The contestants promised to bring it and they did. I am so proud of each and every one of them. If you missed it, you can only blame yourself. Thank you to all those who came out to the event and understand what we’re trying to achieve, which is to provide a platform for men to showcase their abundant talent.”
Mora told Newsday plans are already in train for the 2020 edition.
“Contestants are lining up and interest is already coming from several islands to host the show.”