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Grenada Round the Island Easter Regatta

The Grenada Round-the-Island Easter Regatta kicked off with the finish of the “Girl Pat” racers coming up from Trinidad. This year, there were six boats that raced: light winds at the start of the 90-mile crossing had everyone a bit worried but the wind filled in and for some of the boats this was the quickest time they had ever completed the race in.

Cochise took line honours, finishing in just 6.26.20 with Survivor the overall winner on corrected time. Of the six boats only Wajang stayed to race in the Regatta, being joined by three other visitors from Trinidad – Morning Tide, Blurred Vision and Mayumi. The rest of the fleet sailed on up to Carriacou for a big birthday bash!!

The first race of the Round-the-Island Regatta saw 6 boats on the start line, the Trinidad entries being joined by Aquarela helmed by Tim Barr who lives in Venezuela and the only local entry Aquilo. The course was a triangle sausage and laid in the stiff breeze off the South Coast of Grenada.

There was a close start in ideal conditions and from the get go the competitors recognised that quantity had made way for quality – tight racing for the entire course had all the crews trying to minimise their errors. Mistakes in this regatta were going to be costly!

On Aquilo we had recruited a brand new crew, three of whom were visitors from Great Britain. Prior to the start, an involuntary gybe had pitched me into the water, so early on the skipper Mike Williams had the crew working as a team in order to execute the MOB manoeuvre! Unfortunately this was not to be the only MOB of this regatta, as rather unluckily Aquarela dropped a young crew member during the race and retired after having safely executed their recovery.

Wajang, helmed by Darcy Carr was to take an unassailable lead and finish first with Morning Tide helmed by Peter Morris 2 nd and Aquilo a respectable 3 rd.

At 06:30 on Saturday crews in various stages of alertness (whether from the early hour or post race party the night before) met for breakfast at Prickly Bay Waterside ready to stock up on carbs prior to the start of the Round Island Race at 0800. The fleet from yesterday were joined by four more entries, two Catamarans, Chris Doyle’s Ti Kanot and Roger Spronk’s Huff and Puff. Val Havenga, who jumped off Aquilo to race her own boat Seduction and an (old) favourite Fair Dinkum helmed by Arthur Bains made up the numbers. A running start in reasonable wind and the boats were off – the wind was to hold all the way up the lee side of Grenada, the normal holes around Gouyave being dispelled by a steady breeze from the West.

Aquarela took the lead, and in the moderate winds the Catamarans were unable to surge ahead. Aquarela, Wajang and Huff and Puff elected to head for Kick em Jenny hunting for that wind line, the rest of the fleet led by Aquilo stayed closer in. For some it was a frustrating time as boats only a short distance away found good winds while others stayed almost stationary. Aquarela kept her sails filled for the most part and Wajang and Huff and Puff, after a frustrating 30 minutes or so, picked up the breeze to take them round the north end of the island. Aquilo found good breeze off Sauteurs and Ti Kanot, who had been on her heels for the best part of the morning, just kept playing follow my leader. Two of the fleet, Fair Dinkum and Seduction had decided to retire as the westerly had already stared to die, and the distance was just too great to make up.

Once on the east (Atlantic) coast, the breeze played cat and mouse with the fleet, sometimes getting to a reasonable 7 to 8 knots which filled the sails but eventually at around 14:00 reducing to a mere 1 or 2 knots. Now was the time to see what the crew were made of! Our bow man “Santi” a.k.a Nick Goodchild, at just 13 years old, found it all very tiresome, but a steady stream of rather poor jokes and Did You Knows kept him fairly alert! Well, do you know how long it takes to make a Smartie? (answer at end of article!). At this stage, Ti Kanot and Morning Tide called it a day and motored for home and at 16:20 the rest of the fleet were informed that the lead boat Aquarela was not going to make the 18:00 time limit. So, with reluctance the race was abandoned.

Sunday morning and the front that had stalled over Grenada the day before moved off and back came our wind! The PRO Martin Bedford decided to put in two races instead of the published one windward /leeward race, a decision approved of by all the boats, and at noon prompt the first race of the day started. Aquilo’s crew had come together as a team and put in a great start, and but for a forced tack where the boat ran out of water would have finished better than her third place. Mayumi, skippered by Joe Brown of Solimar Restaurant took a well-deserved first and Morning Tide was in her now customary 2 nd place! The final race and an uncharacteristic bad start by Aquilo left them with just too much to do. Wajang had probably her best race of the regatta and yes Morning Tide came in 2 nd, with Blurred Vision helmed by Chris Mayhew picking up 3 rd. Overall, Wajang was to win on equal points with Morning Tide while Mayumi’s first place in race III was to give them third overall ahead of Aquilo.

Without doubt this has to have been one of the most fun regattas we have raced since our last Round- the Island in 2003 and our return to Grenada this January. Some of the other Caribbean regattas could take a leaf from the this small but efficient Race Committee’s book – the website is user friendly and continually updated with information right up to the race, results and photos posted promptly enabling family, friends and yes, sponsors to obtain first hand knowledge of what is going on. The generosity of all the sponsors ensured not only great prizes for the winners but that every competitor came away with bottles of rum, cases of beer, water and full goodie bags! Not to mention a great beach party on Easter Monday, with everyone digging for buried treasure!

Visit the website www.aroundgrenada.com and see all the action, racing, prize giving, parties and please remember to put this one in the CWC 2007 diary – Grenada is not called the Spice Isle for nothing even the racing is hot hot hot!

Oh and it takes 23 hours to make one Smartie!

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