With Caribbean-style racing and a beach-party vibe, the Workboat Regatta in Grenada always packs a lot of fun and excitement into one weekend of racing. But the partying was revved up even higher this year as its 20th anniversary and a record-breaking win gave double the reason to celebrate.
It all starts with small wooden workboats. They’re island-built, bamboo-rigged, modeled after Grenada’s original fishing boats, and are a strong reminder of Grenada’s heritage in fishing and boat building.
“Grenada’s Workboat Regatta is a unique ‘National Treasure’ that showcases the sailing heritage of Grenada and sister islands Carriacou & Petite Martinique,” says Sarah Baker, Event Coordinator. “It’s an integral part of the culture here, and has become an annual focal point for the island’s sailing communities, for all Grenadians, and for overseas visitors who plan their vacations just to be here in February for this great local sailing event.”
The races themselves are a pleasure to watch, and quite unlike your typical yacht races. Race starts are lively with boats dragged into the water; rudders attached, and sandbag ballast added. Crew must then battle wind and waves to keep their boats in position until a Le Mans-style start has skippers racing in, scrambling onboard, and they’re off. There are splashes, sometimes crashes, and always rum shots at the end.
But it’s not all just racing. The local food and drink, games and giveaways, music, hordes of people, and non-stop party atmosphere provides plenty of action on both water and beach, and the perfect opportunity to soak up some genuine Grenada culture.
This year’s regatta had 25 boats from the communities of Gouyave, Grand Mal, Sauteurs, Woburn, and sister island Petite Martinique, fighting wind and rain, ripped sails and bumps, to determine top boats in each community. Competition was intense; every racer knowing that only the best make it to finals.
Following that, community boats were set aside and one-design Festival boats brought out for the National Team Match Races. The Junior Final was well matched, but in the end it was last year’s champ, Gouyave, who placed first again, followed by Woburn and Petite Martinique. Woburn then started to turn up the heat, taking a solid first in the Senior Final, followed by Gouyave and Sauteurs.
But it was the final race for ‘Skipper of the Year’ that saw Woburn’s Alan Noel and his crew from Trouble explode off the line and establish a lead which no one could take. Crossing the line with a solid first, they became the first Woburn crew—in 20 long years—to win the esteemed ‘2013 United Insurance Skipper of the Year’ title and trophy.
“The plan’s always been to win the big prize”, says Alan Noel, Owner and Skipper of Trouble. “I had Trouble built in Petite Martinique so she’d be fastest and best. It took two years, but 2013 was our time to win!” And with a US$1,000 cash prize, it was a big win indeed. “There’s lots of action in Woburn now”, continued Noel, “new young sailors and more boats being built, so we’ll be back next year even stronger!”
Races finished for another year, the regatta wrapped up with DJ music and fireworks, and in the end, not only was the Workboat Regatta a great weekend of sailing and socializing, but also a wonderful celebration of Grenada’s workboat heritage and a glimpse back into the seafaring days of old.
“The Workboat Regatta represents a significant part of our commitment to support the continued development of traditional sailing and boat-building in Grenada and its sister islands”, concluded Baker. “We have exciting plans for the future and look forward to another 20 years of Grenada’s Workboat Regatta.”
For more information, visit: www.grenadasailingfestival.com
GRENADA SAILING FESTIVAL UNITED INSURANCE WORKBOAT REGATTA WINNERS
Community Class Racing:
Gouyave/Grand Mal Canoe
1. Etieron – Skipper Carlyle Joseph
2. Sonic – Skipper ‘Kimron’
3. Sky Red – Skipper John George
Gouyave/Grand Mal Sloop
1. Endeavour – Skipper Andy DeRoche
2. Reborn – Skipper Kwesi Paul
3. Swift – Skipper Jahuld George
1. Purple Blast – Skipper Orlando Decoteau
2. Elect – Skipper Andre Lauia
1. No Retreat No Surrender – Skipper Jason Charles
2. La Diablesse – Skipper Kenton Olive
3. Planass – Skipper Marvin Jeremiah
1. Trouble – Skipper Alan Noel
2. Lion Heart – Skipper Michael Joseph
3. Unity – Skipper Lennox Julien
National Team Sailing Match Races:
1. Team Gouyave – Skipper Kwesi Paul
2. Team Woburn – Skipper Shakeem Collins
3. Petite Martinique – Skipper Orlando Decoteau
1. Team Woburn – Skipper Michael McQueen
2. Team Gouyave – Skipper Israel Dharangit
3. Team Sauteurs – Skipper Bertrand Noel
2013 Skipper of the Year: Alan Noel and his Woburn crew
Connie Martin is a world traveler who’s currently exploring the Island of Spice.