2008 Caribbean Racing Season Preview: January to March 2008

From dinghy racing to big boats and one-design to mixed fleets, sailing events (and great parties) will take place in profusion around the Caribbean in the winter and early spring.  Here’s a roundup of just a few of the larger races—you’ll find our complete calendar at www.allatsea.net.

January 17-20: 3rd Annual St. Maarten-St. Martin Classic Yacht Regatta
The first of three classics regattas for the season, this event features three days of racing and four days of parties. Racecourses traverse both French St. Martin and Dutch St. Maarten, with public viewings of the classic yachts and beachside festivities all part of the fun. Eleven yachts were registered by the end of November. For information, Email: [email protected]

January 25-29: Port Louis Grenada Sailing Festival & Digicel WorkBoat Regatta
The name is new, thanks to the title sponsors, but the spicy competition and camaraderie sailors have come to love is all the same. Four days of racing are divided into two divisions: keelboats and traditional workboats. Keelboats compete in racing, cruising, charter, fun and multihull classes on challenging courses that test skipper’s skills on a variety of tacks and sea conditions. Meanwhile, skippers in the workboat class down a shot of rum and run for a LeMans-style start off Grand Anse beach aboard their traditional sprit-rigged vessels. For information, Tel. 473-440-4809, Email: [email protected]; Web: www.grenadasailingfestival.com

January 31-February 3: Club Náutico de San Juan’s 7th International Regatta
Optimist and Laser sailors from the US, USVI, BVI, Trinidad & Tobago and Dominican Republic are expected to compete in this event sailed in the San Juan Bay area. “We expect this year’s regatta to bring in the highest number of participants to date,” says regatta director, Gilberto Berrios. Trophies will be awarded to the first three boats on each class, although other awards may be given. www.nauticodesanjuan.com

February 8-10: 15th Annual St. Croix International Regatta
New for 2008:  a Christiansted Harbor course for non-spinnaker (cruising, Jib & Main) and multihull classes in addition to Buck Island Channel racing and a large contingent of IC24s from Puerto Rico looking to win the C.O.R.T. (Caribbean Ocean Racing Triangle) series which the St. Croix regatta opens. This year too, the Valentines Day Optimist Regatta was selected as a qualifier for juniors wishing to attend the Optimist World Championships, set for Cesme, Turkey, in July. “The St. Croix International Regatta is run entirely by volunteers,” says regatta director, Julie San Martin. “At least 40 percent of our 500 members are directly involved.” For information: Tel. (340) 773-9531 or (340) 773-1048, Ext. 11 or 12; Email: [email protected]; Web: www.stcroixyc.com

February 13-17: Casa de Campo Regatta—Presidente Cup
This regatta, held out of a five-star resort in the Dominican Republic, is open to IRC, PHRF, CSA and one-design monohull boats from 24 to 100 feet. There will also be a new super yacht division for yachts over 100 feet. The Casa de Campo marina offers free berthing for all competitors of the regatta from the January 21 through February 22. There will be a full schedule of social events including a golf tournament at the Casa de Campo Country Club course. “We look forward to February for some spectacular racing,” says Tony Torres, Casa de Campo Yacht Club manager. For information,  visit www.casadecamporegatta.com

February 15-17: 30th Annual Sweethearts of the Caribbean & 26th Annual Classic Yacht Regatta
Schooners sailing pursuit-style out of Soper’s Hole, Tortola, en route to Jost Van Dyke, make an impressive sight. The next day, Classics (design of 30 years or older) and the Wannabees (design of 20 to 25 years) compete. For information, contact the West End Yacht Club, Tel: (284) 495-1002, Email: [email protected]

February 21-24: Grenada Classic Yacht Regatta
Organizers anticipate 20 to 30 vintage yachts, schooners, wooden boats, spirit of tradition and other classics in this inaugural event featuring three days of racing with courses run between St. George’s and St. David’s Harbour. Like its St. Maarten counterpart, the regatta is organized by West Indies Events in cooperation with Fred Thomas of Shipwrights Ltd. who held the Wooden Boat Regatta in Grenada for several years. For information, Email: [email protected] or visit: www.ClassicRegatta.com

March 6-9: 28th Annual St. Maarten Heineken Regatta
New this year, Spinnaker-carrying yachts can sail an extra day on windward-leeward courses for the Budget Marine Commodores Cup. Also new, boats entering the regatta online will be directly linked to the CSA website, where, after entering their boat’s name, all relevant details update automatically. Over 250 entries and over 2500 sailors are anticipated. “Over 40 different countries are represented at this event, and no where can this be seen better than at the evening festivities where people of all nationalities mingle together sharing their stories of the day,” says Frank Hoedemaker, commodore of the Sint Maarten Yacht Club. For information, Tel. (+599) 544-2079, or visit www.heinekenregatta.com

March 14-16: Heineken Culebra International Regatta
The regatta venue is back at Costa Bonita Resort Villas, where lodging on-shore plus a regatta village with food booths staffed by local restaurateurs awaits. “Courses will be a mix of round the buoys and round the islands,” says regatta director, Angel Ayala. Classes include spinnaker racing, non-spinnaker, IC24, J/24, cruising, jib and main and local chalanas. An Optimist and Laser regatta will again be held concurrently.
March 20-24: Bequia Easter Regatta
“We anticipate the early date of Easter will bring another bumper turnout—no conflict with Antigua and right in the middle of the cruising season to attract lots of cruisers and liveaboards long before they head north,” says Nicola Redway. Competition in this favorite event has grown hotter since the introduction of the J/24 class in 2004 (10 to 15 are expected this year) and specially designed courses in 2006. Of course, the contest in the local double-ender classes, especially among the 28-footers is equally fierce. For information, Email: [email protected] or visit: www.begos.com/easterregatta

March 28-30: International Rolex Regatta
Sailors who wish to race their yachts exclusively under the IRC rating will find a class of their own at this year’s 35th annual Rolex Regatta. “With the majority of new racing sailboats being designed to IRC, it makes sense to allow them the chance to race under the IRC rule in one of the world’s best venues,” says regatta co-director, John Sweeney. “We aren’t abandoning CSA; we are simply offering options… and encouraging a larger international fleet.” The classic combination of buoy and island racing, beachside parties and a Rolex for each class winner remains happily the same. For information, visit: www.rolexcupregatta.com

March 31-April 6: BVI Spring Regatta & Sailing Festival
Bigger and better is what organizers predict for this year’s weeklong competition. “We really are two fun regattas in one great event,” says regatta director, Judy Petz. New events on the lay-day at the Bitter End Yacht Club will add excitement to the Sailing Festival, while real-time results reported during the BVI Spring Regatta will be projected on large screen monitors at Nanny Cay. If there’s enough interest, there will be a class or classes for IRC rated yachts at this traditionally CSA-rated regatta. For information, visit: www.bvispringregatta.org

Next issue:  Late spring and early summer regattas

Carol M. Bareuther, RD, is a St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands based marine writer and registered dietitian.

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