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LaSource Grenada Sailing Festival and Work Boat Regatta 2007

The LaSource Grenada Sailing Festival combines sailing, culture, passion and spice.  The event brings the local highly competitive fleets from all three islands in their workboats, this year generously sponsored by Cable & Wireless, together with top international keel boat competitors.

This year’s event, January 26 to 30, started with skippers receiving their sailing instructions and “goody bags” followed by an awesome display of fireworks and a Welcome Party.  A Pirate-theme fashion show from Art Fabric was followed by exotic Salsa dancers who inspired the crowd to give it a go, especially when the lithe men and women jumped down and joined the crowd. 

Saturday morning, work boat and keel boat sailors alike took to the waters in their respective boats.  The conditions were near perfect, with a good breeze, slight swell and sunshine.

The Workboats from the fishing communities of Petit Martinique, Carriacou, Sauteurs, Gouyave, and Woburn, stood poised for the first of the LeMans type race starts.  Though it is picturesque, anyone watching soon realized that the competition is serious; these sportsmen have little modern boat hardware to assist them as they make their way round the course. Thanks to the large donation by Cable &Wireless every boat was to earn a cash prize.  Seaton Bernadeine, skippering Unity from Woburn, scored five bullets, while the team from Sauteurs in Sugar Hand were unlucky to capsize—underwater photos of them recovering the boat will be shown for some time to come!

On Sunday the work boat crews climbed into the Grenada Sailing Festival 16’s (GSF 16’s) to sail it out for the National Junior and Senior Championships.  The GSF 16’s are matched boats and, to ensure fairness, the skippers dip (draw) for their boat.  This year the Coca Cola Junior Championship slot went to Janick Bethal and his crew from Carriacou and the United Insurance Senior Championship to Alvin McPhie and his crew from Gouyave. 

The climax was the final race in the GSF16’s for the all important Skipper of the Year.  By now the crowd enjoying all the festival antics of the beach was all lined up watching the racers.  Jimmy Bristol, Chairman of Grenada Sailing Festival, was at the peak of his performance and it was with some difficulty that the winner Andy de Roche from Carriacou made it up the beach and through the hordes to claim his title.

The crowd stood for one minute in silence to remember the crew from Petit Martinique who had been lost at sea earlier in the year.  The close up time of six o’clock came and went with the tired revelers, sailors, and spectators alike finally calling it a day at 9 p.m.

Meanwhile on the keel boat course there were thrill and spills. The Mount Gay series got off to a clean start on Saturday morning with a race from True Blue Bay to Grand Anse. The 81 foot Nimrod cut a wide swath up the coast until she tore her mainsail at the Aquarium mark; to the credit of her crew, she carried on and completed the race.

The second race in the Mount Gay Series was a windward/leeward format, sailed in Grand Anse;  unfortunately, gear failure was to take its course and several racers had to retire before the finish.

The final race of the Mount Gay Series took the boats back down the coast from Grand Anse to True Blue Bay.  J 24 Rover was not able to repair her rig in time for the start and limped home and several others were forced to retire before the finish. One racer suffered a broken arm – and bit the bullet to allow his boat to finish the race!

However everyone had recovered enough to attend the Mount Gay Red Cap party with red caps for every member of the crew. 

Sunday’s True Blue Bay Resort race comprised a short triangle course. Keel boat racing was kept short to provide both crews the opportunity to enjoy the Cable & Wireless Work boat Regatta, run concurrently at the Grand Anse beach, a tradition since 1994.

Monday found the racers back off the South Coast for the Port Louis series, comprised of two long triangle races in the area between Glover Island and Calivigny. The long course sailed by the racing class proved to be onerous, with the first racer finishing almost an hour later than the last of the other classes.  The second race in the series found all classes sailing the same course, the shorter of the two. 

The Port Louis Party introduced a Carnival element and local bands Barracuda and Roots joined forces to jam and keep the crews active until the early hours.

Tuesday’s Moet & Chandon pursuit race began early with the scratch entry going off at 8:30 a.m. All racers finished within a fifteen minute time span, the result of a great deal of planning by the race committee. Aquilo took the honors, beating Rasmus by seconds.

The LaSource Trophy series commenced with a triangle race in Grand Anse bay.  The second race in the series, and the last race of the festival, took the racers from Grand Anse back to True Blue Bay. Storm finally was out raced, finishing second in her class for the first time, albeit by only nine seconds, leaving only J24 HOIC to complete a perfect regatta with eight bullets.

A Champagne Reception, thanks to Moet and Chandon, set the scene for the Awards night dinner.   Crystal ships’ decanters for the overall winners together with Stars and Stripes Casio watches from Colombian Emeralds, and magnums of Champagne culminated in the presentation of the Overall Championship La Source Perpetual Trophy. Including a Jeroboam of Champagne and return ticket to the UK presented by British Airways, the award went to the only boat that sailed a perfect series, HOIC, skippered by Jerry Stewart. 

The 2007 LaSource Grenada Sailing Festival had started with a bang and it finished with a flood of Champagne.  Gratitude goes to the sponsors, and every volunteer and business.  Mark your diary:  January 25 – 29, 2008.  For results and pictures:  www.grenadasailingfestival.com or contact the Secretariat on gsail@spiceisle.com.

American Eagle drawing benefits Grenada Junior Sailors

Thanks to the sponsorship of American Eagle for two return tickets for Miami and two return tickets to New York, the 2007 LaSource Grenada Sailing Festival raised $7,000EC for the Junior Sailing Programme in Grenada.  The two drawing winners, Rick Lee (Prickly Bay Waterside) and Leo te Boekhorst (North South Trading) magnanimously returned their tickets for auctioning, with Wendy Bertucci (La Luna) and Justin Evans (Spice Island Marine Services) being the eventual lucky winners.

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