Many of the Caribbean’s most well-known regattas take place during the winter and early spring, but the excitement doesn’t abruptly end then. There are a number of events that take place, spanning from the northern to southern Caribbean, that each offer that combination of racing excitement and rousing entertainment for which the region’s sailing events are most famous.
April 5-9: Bequia Easter Regatta
A record 40 sleek sailing production yachts and 34 local double-enders, with skippers hailing from Trinidad, St. Lucia, Antigua, Grenada, Martinique, Barbados, St. Vincent, and U.S. Virgin Islands as well as Canada, England, Norway and the US, descended on the tiny Grenadine island of Bequia for last year’s 25th anniversary Bequia Easter Regatta.
This year, says Bequia’s Nicola Redway, “We will be building on the huge success of last year. Our regatta has become THE venue for J/24s, which have their own class and own specially-devised courses within the regatta. We had a fleet of eight last year and are hoping for an even larger turnout this year.”
Bequia’s Easter Regatta has achieved fame as the biggest small island regatta in the region and is second only to Vincy Mas as a tourism event in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
“What makes it unique,” says Redway, “is that equally sized fleets of local double-enders and yachts from around the world compete on the same waters around Bequia over the four day weekend. The regatta is full of excitement, skill and thrilling competition, with a huge beach fete on Lay Day Sunday where there is a sandcastle building competition and Crazy Craft race. There’s a grand prize giving ceremony for all competitors and spectators on Easter Monday. Definitely fun for all.”
April 5-9: Grenada ‘Round the Island’ Easter Regatta
Calling all racers – and junior dinghy sailors, classic wooden boat enthusiasts, and live aboard cruisers, too. The Grenada South Coast Yacht Club will host its 5th annual Grenada ‘Round-the-Island’ Easter Regatta, offering a festival of exciting races and challenge trophy cups that translate into fun for everyone who enters.
Wanda Brown Nicholas, who’s helping to publicize the event along with Jacqui Pascall, says, “Challenging racing conditions on the south coast of Grenada have traditionally shown ideal wind speeds to satisfy all classes of competitors. This year, the racing class will be joined by an ever growing charter and cruising fleet—plus a special invite has been sent out to all the live-aboard sailors to come and join the event in the Fun Class.”
Nicholas continues, “This year, too, joining the regatta will be the traditional class wooden boats in the Classic Class. These boats were built in Windward, Carriacou and are keen to participate in this event. They race regularly at the Antigua Classic event and it will be spectacular to see them racing around Glover Island.”
Also, “The Grenada Junior Sailing team will take part in the Easter Round the Island Regatta on Saturday April 7th 2007. The growing fleet includes Optimist, Laser and Pico dinghies will compete for the Easter Regatta Junior Challenge Trophy Cup,” she says.
The timing for this year’s regatta couldn’t be better as it takes place the weekend prior to the Cricket World Cup play at the Queen’s Park stadium, located on the outskirts of St. George’s.
Nicholas adds, “With the many fun sailing events schedule, the GSCYC hasn’t forgotten the non-sailor. Everyone is invited to join in the many land-based events and after parties that are planned at various venues. We’re encouraging everyone to come become part of the tradition.”
For more information: Tel. (473) 444-4662 (Roger Spronk, regatta chairman) or (473) 444-4662 (Claire Budhlall Spronk, regatta director); Fax. (473) 444-4677: Email: [email protected] or [email protected]; Web: www.aroundgrenada.com
April 27-29: 7th Annual International Cancer Benefit Regatta
Hosted by the Trinidad & Tobago Sailing Association (TTSA), this fundraising event features two days of competitive racing. Ruth Lund says, “Sailing in the Gulf can be tricky, but the organization is good, with the added benefit or raising money for a very worthy cause.”
Since its inception in 2000, and in conjunction with a Silent Art Auction, the event has generated over TT$1 million in its quest to provide the Trinidad & Tobago Cancer Society with a High Resolution Ultrasound Unit. Lund adds, “Even if you don’t sail, you can have a great time looking and bidding for the excellent donated works of local artists, which are displayed at TTSA under a tent.”
The regatta draws an entry of about 25 to 30 boats and organizers are anticipating even more participation this year. For more information: Tel. (868) 634-4210 or (868) 634-4519; Fax. (868) 634-4376; Email: [email protected]; Web: www.ttsailing.org
May 11-13: Anguilla International Regatta
More challenging and exciting courses will again be part of the 5th annual Anguilla International Regatta. Last year, there were three different courses – an upwind/downwind course for the racers, a separate course for the cruising classes, and a ‘Beach Jam’ course for all the classes. All the racing yachts rounded marks right off the beach at both Cap Juluca and Cuisinart Resorts, requiring exacting navigational skills and making watching from shore spectacular.
The ‘Battle of the Banks’ segment of the regatta, sailed in 12-meter America’s Cup Yachts, and the ‘Mix Up’ racing where sailors compete both on production fiberglass yachts and traditional wood-built island sloops, are other highlights of this event, that also features great parties complete with music, food and fun on the beach.
May 13-18: Angostura Tobago Sail Week
Celebrating its 25th anniversary, this exceedingly competitive and exceptionally friendly southern Caribbean regatta attracts nearly 50 cruising, racing, bareboat, and live-aboard yachts that race off Store Bay each year.
“What was noticeable last year,” says Ruth Lund, “was that the Racing class increased dramatically with some very serious racing designs and skippers making it highly competitive. I’m sure this trend will continue this year.”
Lund adds, “The core group of sailors attending this regatta tend to come every year and are like a large sailing family, mainly comprising boats from Trinidad & Tobago, Barbados, and Grenada in the Racing and Cruising classes and, of course, the large Charter Class with sailors mainly from Europe. Because of this, the competition is pretty fierce and the after-race banter and socializing is much more personal than that experienced at some of the other Caribbean regattas.”
On shore, the Angostura Village, set up on the lawns of the Crown Point Hotel, is the focal point for all the after racing activities. Says Lund, “it includes the Angostura and other bars, a food tent, various booths, banking facilities, the race organizers’ offices, a disco, sail repair facility, water supply, and ferry service to and from the jetty.”
May 25-27: 33rd Foxy’s Wooden Boat Regatta
What started as a six-boat event in 1974 has become a much-anticipated annual event that saw 22 yachts compete last year. Throughout the years, island sloops, gaffers, marconi-rigged boats, modern class wooden yachts with a fin keel, and even a Carib gommier tree crafted canoe all have participated, with skippers hailing from a variety of Caribbean islands as well as the U.S. mainland.
Mike Kirk, one of the regatta organizers, says, “There is always something different each year, but we never know what it is until the week before or even on the day as the usual screw-ups occur.”
The three-day weekend event starts with a single-handed race from Great Harbour, Jost Van Dyke, to Cane Garden Bay, Tortola, where landlubbers can join in the party ashore. The next day features the traditional wooden boat regatta when all craft and crew take to the high seas for keen competition. It’s difficult to handicap this unique fleet, so instead there are many classes and a multitude of prizes to win. The final day ends with a big beach party where calypsonian Foxy himself presides over the festivities.
July 29-August 6: 42nd Annual Carriacou Regatta Festival
Everything from serious yacht racing to beachside donkey races, greasy pole climbs and netball competitions highlight the annual Carriacou Regatta Festival, held off Grenada’s northern offshore island of Carriacou.
Dexter Leggett, president of the regatta committee says, “We’re going to continue to place an emphasis on our local culture and traditions, and as usual, focus on our work boat races.” Following this theme, this year’s regatta celebration is being dubbed, ‘More Race, More Fun, in the Carriacou Sun’.
Established in 1965 by the late Linton. J. Riggs, a Jamaican-born yachtsman who settled on the 15-mile-long island in the early 1950s, the festival began as a mere boat racing event commemorating the Emancipation holiday weekend and has now grown to include a large number of sporting and cultural activities. The regatta itself, however, focuses mainly on the locally built ‘workboats’ with some ten different classes ranging from 14 to 35 feet in length.
On-shore activities include donkey racing, greasy pole climbing, road races, a Miss Wet T-Shirt contest, and Miss Aquaval Queen Show with participation from Trinidad, Tobago, Grenada, Barbados, Canouan, Union Island and host Carriacou.
For information: Tel. (473) 443-7930 or (473) 443-7948; Fax. (473) 443-6127; Email: [email protected];