Record numbers for boating series
More than 50 boats are expected in the island for next month’s Mount Gay Round Barbados Race Series and the countdown has started with the arrival of the first overseas yachts, including the British VO70 Monster Project.
This event, which kick-starts the Caribbean race season, is proving to be a huge attraction for overseas entries with over 20 already signed up.
The series runs from January 16 to 24 and one of the biggest draws is the Mount Gay Round Barbados Race –– a 60 nautical mile ocean race round the island on January 21. There are currently 14 established records in this race, all of which offer the skipper’s weight in Mount Gay Extra Old Rum if broken. The current outright monohull round Barbados record holders with a time of four hours 42 minutes 28 seconds are Raphaël Grisoni and his Mount Gay team aboard the Monster Project.
The coastal race series between January 17 and 19 will feature three coastal races per day for the highly competitive J/24 fleet and one race per day for all other classes. Although it is not part of the series, a final 300-mile ocean race to Antigua, specially laid on to tie up with the Super Yacht Challenge starts at 10 a.m. on January 24.
The relaunch of the regatta in 2014, with its new race format and record-breaking opportunities, proved such a success that the Barbados Cruising Club – the organisers who run the regatta in association with the Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc and Mount Gay –– indicate the event is now one of the island’s biggest attractions.
Event manager Alene Krimholtz commented: “We are delighted this is now not only a big island attraction, but it is also one of the key regattas on the international big boat racing circuit. One of the main incentives, other than the warm Caribbean waters, miles of gold sandy beaches, and constant 12-18 knot east to east-north-east trade winds, is the opportunity to break records in the 60-mile Mount Gay Round Barbados Race.”
The J/24 fleet, which uses the regatta as one of the stages in its Barbados Championship series, is expected to feature at least 12 boats. The class has also been granted fleet status for the Mount Gay Round Barbados Race after Glory Daze, the sole J/24, set a new record in 2014. The winning J/24 breaking this record in 2015 will win their skipper’s weight in rum.
Charles Hunte, who set a new windsurfer record around the island in 2014 with a time of seven hours, 59 minutes, 10 seconds is hoping for more competition this year.
“It would be good to see some more boards on the course but I will be there whatever happens. I have been making plenty of plans for the race in 2015 including obtaining a new Starboard 377 Bat Wing course board, which I will use with a Neil Pryde 8.7 metre H2, no matter what the wind,” he said.
Others lined up to compete in the post-Christmas event include two VO60s –– Cuba Libre and Ambersail –– both of which have places available for charter. There is also a Farr 72, Maximizer, which has been chartered by the American Embassy in Bridgetown, plus a local TP52 –– Conviction, and the 55m classic racing schooner ––Elena.
One of the most interesting entries is the recently launched 33m schooner Ruth. The design of this vessel –– which took ten years to build locally, on the beach in Carlisle Bay – is based on the Canadian grand banks schooner Bluenose. The idea is for her to be used as a cargo ship on historic Caribbean regional trading routes using wind and solar electrical systems to minimise her carbon footprint. She will also provide sail training opportunities for 18-25 year olds.
Mount Gay Rum fine Caribbean hospitality will be in full flow throughout the week with a party every night including the legendary Mount Gay Red Cap party and the final grand prize-giving party at the Beach House. Lay day activities include a Barbados Polo Club exhibition match, and a visit to Mount Gay Distilleries.