Bequia Easter Regatta: Fun on Land & Sea

Exodus racing hard. Photo: Kenmore Henville – Bequia Photo Action

She wasn’t first over the finish line, but Exodus was certainly the queen of the 2017 Bequia Easter Regatta. The 42ft West Indies Sloop, star of the award-winning film, Vanishing Sail, which traced the traditional wooden vessel’s life from its inception on Windward Beach in Carriacou to launch in 2013, was one of 24 customary and contemporary vessels that competed in this iconic spring holiday regatta held April 14 to 17, out of Port Elizabeth.

“This was our first Bequia Easter Regatta on Exodus,” says Nicola Cromwell, co-owner with Mike Wilkie. The couple bought the sloop last year. She was hand-constructed by boatbuilder Alwyn Enoe over a three-year period, which started with Enoe selecting the right trees and finished with an 18th century-style launch. Cromwell and Wilkie completed some major renovations and modifications in Antigua and sailed for the Grenadines last October.

Exodus sailed in the Cruising II class, the largest of the regatta’s four classes, which included Cruising I, Racing and One-Design J/24. The four days of competition featured the Friendship Bay Race, followed by the Around Bequia Race, Single-Handed Around Bequia Race and the finale Admiralty Bay Triangle Race. Cromwell and Wilkie sailed all except the single-handed event.

“The three courses were all quite different and tested our sailing skills to the full. The Round Island race on day two gave us fabulous views of Bequia, but the unusually light winds were not favorable to our rather heavy wooden boat. By the last day, the wind had picked up and the technically challenging two triangle race around Admiralty Bay saw us finally kick some serious butt. Great fun,” she tells.

Nicola Cornwell and Mike Wilkie, owners of Exodus, add a new dimension to the nautical term “All Hands”. Photo: Lynn Fletcher
Nicola Cornwell and Mike Wilkie, owners of Exodus, add a new dimension to the nautical term “All Hands”. Photo: Lynn Fletcher

Cromwell recounts two especially fun stories. The first happened at sea during the Around Bequia Race. Exodus was on a downwind leg on the south side of the island when the fleet of local ‘Bequia double enders’ on a different course came steaming towards the sloop at right angles barely astern. It created what Cromwell calls a ‘magnificent sight’. The second happened on land, when the couple and their crew developed a theme song to Michael Jackson’s ‘Blame it on the Boogie’ complete with action moves to the chorus. The Exodus crew performed as they sailed into the harbor and on the dance floor at the nightly awards presentations and parties.

“The quirky charm and friendliness of Bequia and the great mix of local work boats (double enders) through to cruising boats and fast J24 racers is what we like best about the regatta,” says Cromwell.

The Bequia Easter Regatta is known as much for its activities on land as its competition at sea. This year’s shore side happenings included a sandcastle competition, crazy craft contest, egg and spoon races, crab racing, greasy pole climb, musical chairs, tug of war, maypole dancing, coconut de-husking and a hot beer drinking competition.

“We didn’t have much wind, which was a relief from last year when there was too much, but it was a great regatta. The parties at the Frangipani, the Fig Tree and the final prize giving at Plantation House went down very well, very crowded with everyone drinking and dancing and just doing what they do best – having a great time,” says Richard Ashton, regatta director and secretary of the host Bequia Sailing Club.

 

RESULTS – OVERALL WINNERS:

J24 Class
1. Ambushe
2. Die Hard
3. Jabal

Racing Class
1. Category 5
2. Regis Guillemot
3. Gaya

Cruising 1
1. Nirvana
2. Chanticleer
3. True Form

Cruising 2
1. Sail la Vie
2. Papagayo
3. Brizo

 

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

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