Countdown to the start of the Caribbean race season

Published on January 12th, 2014

Bridgetown, Barbados (January 12, 2014) – With just three days to go before the start of the Mount Gay Round Barbados Race Series (15-23 January), the carnival atmosphere around town is starting to build. Yachts are arriving at a steady rate and crews are already soaking up the fine Barbadian hospitality.

Organised by the Barbados Cruising Club in association with the Barbados Tourism Authority and Mount Gay, the Mount Gay Round Barbados Race Series encompasses the already established Mount Gay Round Barbados Race plus a new series of coastal races, and a final 300-mile sprint to Antigua – to link up with the Superyacht Challenge – starting on 25 January.

The new format regatta is proving a popular choice, with up 50 boats expected to take part. Interest in the 70-mile Mount Gay Round Barbados Race on Tuesday 21 January is particularly high, with many keen to have a serious attempt at the outright record.

John Wilson and team from the UK are back this year aboard Idea – Reichel Pugh 78 – to defend their current monohull record (5 hours, 3 minutes, 34 seconds), while Bryn Palmer, from Barbados, plans to defend the multihull record (4 hours, 24 minutes, 27 seconds) aboard Silver Bullet – Supercat 30.

However, with the likes of Caro, Max Klink’s Knierim 65 that set a new ARC course record in December last year, and the Mount Gay team aboard the British VO70 Monster Project (formerly Kosatka the Russian entry for 2009 Volvo Ocean Race) already signed up, there is no shortage of hot competition. There is even a local windsurfing fanatic – Trevor Hunte – planning to race around the island for a crack at the outright record.

Raphaël Grisoni – Managing Director of Mount Gay – says his team, this time on Monster Project, are there to re-establish the record they lost in 2011. Talking about the VO70 Mount Gay entry, Grisoni said: “The sole objective of taking part is to break the record.”

Mount Gay Monster Project is brimming to the gunwhales with talented sailors including Andy Budgen, Loic Blanken on the helm, and Fabrice Cornic on tactics. Budgen chatting about Team Monster Project’s first time at the regatta, said: “It is a privilege to host the Barbados Mount Gay Rum Team on our Volvo 70 and we are of course trying to get the fastest time around the Island. Hopefully the weather will be kind to us.

“I’m sure the hosts, Mount Gay Rum, will provide some good entertainment for all crews and I know that all our crew are looking forward to sampling the local Mount Gay Rum.”

Mount Gay Monster Project is also hosting special guests, father and son duo from the UK – Nick and Adam Munday – who won their trip to the Mount Gay Round Barbados Race Series for their overall win of the Royal Southern Yacht Club Summer Series champion of champions event in 2013 in their J/97.

Among the prettiest boats in the fleet, racing within the Classics is Mat Barker’s Alfred Mylne 65 The Blue Peter, built by W. King & Sons at Burnham-on-Crouch, in the UK. Barker says the enthusiasm at last year’s event was so infectious he just had to return. “I have come back to Barbados for many reasons, but I think the main reason was the amazing welcome we received last year from the people at the Barbados Cruising Club. Once I decided to come back to the Caribbean this year Barbados was the obvious first stop and I am certainly looking forward to the new longer race format. There is of course the small matter of perhaps winning my body weight in Rum.”

The first race of the series starts at 1100 on Friday 17 January followed by the Mount Gay Rum Red Cap party at Barbados Yacht Club later that evening.

About the Mount Gay Round Barbados Race Series

Early years
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 Kennedy) 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 on 21 January. The 300-mile Ocean Race from Barbados to Antigua starts on 24 January.

Further event information
Race website:
Event contact:

Sue Pelling reporting

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