The 26th anniversary of Bequia’s Easter Regatta, held from April 6 to 9, kicked off this year at the Frangipani Hotel with registration, the skippers briefing, and live steel band music by the Elite Steel Band Orchestra. Bequia (pronounced Bekway) is best known for boat building and fishing and evidence of that can still be seen at the annual regatta, popular for its mix of yacht racing, local boat racing, and admirable hospitality.
Friday’s racing began with fair winds hailing from the east, a few tired souls from the night before, and finally some sunshine. The Friendship Bay Race began in Admiralty Bay, headed around West Cay, Ramier Island, Isle Quatre, Petit Nevis (the former Whaling station), then around the West cay mark on the way down and back into Admiralty Bay.
Saturday was the Around Bequia Yacht Race and winds were blowing at about 15 knots. The Frangipani Hotel was buzzing once again as skippers, crew and those who wanted to be crew swarmed what seemed to be ‘the port of entry’. Everyone was trying to get last minute “goodies” before the race began. With about 36 yachts taking part, Admiralty Bay was awash with sails following the chartered course for the Racing class through Admiralty Bay, going North around Bequia Head, past Semple Key, Ramier, West Key (a little island on Bequia’s southern end) back into Admiralty Bay and then into Lower bay where the race was completed.
Cruising class 2 racing was similar excluding the passage around Isle quatre, Petit Nevis and Ramier Island. Beowulf, a 41-footer from St. Vincent and the Grenadines in Cruising Class 1, had to retire early from the race due to a broken mast.
On Sunday, the Single-Handed Race started at 8:30am in Lower Bay, and followed the course of the Around Bequia Race, finishing once more in Lower Bay. Earlier that morning, the beach was scattered with mounds of sand of all shapes and sizes as children created environmentally-friendly sandcastles. Meanwhile the DJ blasted away to the sounds of soca and hip-hop, a new developing trend on the island.
Monday was the final day of the Regatta and, as time slips by when you’re having fun, it was already time for the last race to begin. The Admiralty Bay Race began in Admiralty Bay, out to the Ships Sterns mark, then into Admiralty Gate, and back three times for the racing class. Each point was marked with huge orange buoys. Cruising class took the same route, but only going around each mark twice.
At the end of the races, the grand prize giving ceremony was held at the Frangipani Hotel, followed by a festivity of drinks compliments Pepsi, Heineken, Mountain Top Spring Water and Mount Gay, the proud sponsor of red caps that were seen on bobbing heads during the races. Many prizes were given and the as the proud crews packed and said “ciao, bye, abientot” to Bequia in whatever language they spoke, most headed down to Antigua for the Classic Race Week.
Kedisha Compton was among the crew on Beowulf when its mast broke and reports, “fortunately we are all lucky to come off the boat unharmed and alive. I would like to say a big THANK YOU to the St.Vincent and the Grenadines coast guard, and of course my crew aboard Beowulf.”