Caribbean season launched in Barbados

Published on January 17th, 2018

Bridgetown, Barbados (January 17, 2018) – Barbados Sailing Week 2018 got underway today to launch the Caribbean regatta season with a week of seriously fun racing and partying.

Glorious conditions with winds up to 18kts and a swell from the east were on offer for a 11-12nm course from Carlisle Bay for a fleet that ranged from windsurfers and an International Moth to the 65ft Alfred Mylne classic, The Blue Peter.

In CSA Racing Class, the super-tuned crew on Peter Lewis’ J/105 Whistler fought hard to earn their first top spot of the week. After what was probably the best start of the day, team Whistler sailed well in the tricky conditions and although they seemed to struggle with speed on the first downwind leg, they were able to comfortably hold off The Blue Peter, who had to settle for second place in class.

Another impressive performance was in Non CSA division with Mandy (Hunter 29.5) sailed by Bruce Robinson and team who seemed keen to start the week how they intend to continue. After an exceptionally close class battle last year when the Mandy team was unable to hold off their closest rival Tropic Bird (Hunter 35) sailed by Mark Hioens and Priscilla Richardson, they were on top form today with a first race win.

As well as Tropic Bird, who was four minutes late for the start today, Robinson and team are going to have to watch Bill Tempro’s Hunter 36 Sail La Vie who was also on form and finished the day in second place, one place ahead of Tropic Bird.

Said Robinson, “It was undoubtedly down to good crew work. They worked exceptionally well despite being one member down. I was also impressed with the boat’s performance after my recent boat tuning session where I made a few adjustments to the jib settings. Tomorrow’s course on the west coast will make for an interesting race and I imagine Tropic Bird and Sail La Vie will be ‘on our case, which means, as a team we are going to have to ‘sharpen our pencils’.”

The conditions made it tough work for smaller classes but there was still plenty of fun to be had as demonstrated by Andy Budgen who was racing his new Exocet foiling International Moth Nano Project. Although he won his class, it was not without a few issues.

“From my perspective flat water is everything, so in conditions like it was today it pays for me to come round the marks and head inshore immediately because the chop is hard to sail in, and not that fast,” said Budgen. “The biggest thing I had to do today was to try to slow down. As I came round the top mark it was all I could do to sheet in to slow the thing down. It was going about 25kts downwind but I got it down to about 16kts just to try to stop the thing taking off because that can only results in one thing ‘death’!”

Slightly less frantic but no less exciting was the sole multihull Silver Bullet (RC30 catamaran) – Bryn Palmer and team who zipped round the course at top speed and took their first win of the week in the Multihull class.

Racing will continue tomorrow for Coastal Racing Day 2. The course will take the fleet up the west side of the island towards Holetown where, although potentially shifty, should be relatively flat.

Racing concludes on January 24.

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About Barbados Sailing Week
The first recorded race round Barbados was in 1936 when five trading schooners (Sea Fox, Mona Marie, Marion B Wolfe, Lucille Smith and Rhode Island) took up the challenge. Sea Fox (Captain Lou Kenedy) was the overall winner with a time of 10 hours 20 minutes.

The original race was based upon bragging rights for the fastest Trading Schooner. In an era where prices for cargo arriving ahead of rival ships commanded a massive premium, this was a lucrative race for captains.

The consolation prize of a barrel of Mount Gay Rum for the slowest yacht was discontinued several years later following the discovery that some competitors purposely stalled and remained out at sea for days to ensure they won the prize.

In 2012 The Mount Gay Round Barbados Race expanded to incorporate the Two Restaurants Race, which meant racing took place over two days. The idea proved such a success, it was decided to expand the event further in 2014, in line with most other Caribbean regattas, and run a series of coastal, round-the-buoy races including the Two Restaurants Race, and The Mount Gay Round Barbados Race.

The 60nm Mount Gay Round Barbados Race traditionally takes place on Errol Barrow Day (a public holiday to celebrate the birthday of the first Prime Minister of Barbados, and ‘father of independence). There are currently 20 records to contest.

The 265-mile Ocean Race from Barbados to Antigua at the end of the regatta was specifically designed to tie in with the start of the Superyacht Challenge in Antigua.

Source: Sue Pelling

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