200 years of love and tradition
Published on January 30th, 2020
The Grenadines are a chain of small islands in the Caribbean with a boat building tradition dating back over 200 years. This is well exemplified in the seafaring nation of Grenada with its long history of sea trading and fishing where these traditions remain one of the strongest influences in the local culture.
The friendly rivalry that has always existed between closely knit communities has often been expressed in competition amongst fisherman and their boat-builders to be the fastest or the best, developing into organized regattas taking place regularly over the years.
Every year since 1994, the traditional workboat regatta has been held on the Spice Island of Grenada. Situated right on Grand Anse Beach, visitors to Grenada can not only witness the action but become part of the spirit and tradition of the Spice Island, cheering on the teams alongside their family and friends.
Sailors will once gain take part in the 2020 Westerhall White Jack Grenada Sailing Festival on February 1-2, coming from all over Grenada plus the sister Islands of Carriacou and Petite Martinique. Communities with a strong sailing and boat building heritage race each other off the award winning Grand Anse Beach outside Grenada’s capital St. Georges.
Traditionally the boats raced are 16 or 17 feet long, made from local hard woods and with masts of bamboo. Today boats are built specifically for racing and on average it takes four to six weeks to build a boat from scratch.
On the first day of the festival, teams from each Grenadian community race each other to become their own community champion. In recent years, a new Woburn Class has been introduced to encourage the continued participation of young community sailors – the ‘Young Guns’ who wish to sail faster and harder.
On the second day, the winners of the community classes race against each other using the one design GSF 16s – the fleet of boats that Grenada Sailing Festival had built specifically for match racing. This fleet of boats is also used for the very popular National Team Sailing finals where each community nominates a junior and senior crew to race.
This is a very high-profile competitive end to the regatta and generates tremendous community support for the participating crews. The long-term commitment of the Grenada Sailing Festival continues to be the continuation of involvement in, and interest in Grenada’s strong boat building and sailing heritage.