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Mount Gay Rum Barbados Regatta

Happy Morning – winner of Cruising Class A. Photo: Peter Marshall
Happy Morning – winner of Cruising Class A. Photo: Peter Marshall

Big winds and seas created challenging conditions for the 37 boats and 300 sailors competing in the Mount Gay Rum Barbados Regatta, hosted May 18th – 20th out of Carlisle Bay by the Barbados Sailing Association. There was, however, some very close and exciting racing especially in the Racing and Cruising A Classes.

Legendary Legacy, a Soverel 43, owned by Trinidad & Tobago’s Reginald Williams won a tie-breaker after five races to champion the Racing Class over Barbados’ Peter Lewis on his J/105, Whistler.

Teamwork was the reason for Legacy’s success, says Williams. “Our team of 15 immediate family and friends (including Bajan team members) were wonderful to work with in the conditions. When some became spent from grinding, others stepped up to support them. From the start we had a 50-plus year difference between our youngest and most senior crew member. When asked how he was doing, halfway on the first day? Our youngest crew, Elijah replied, ‘I couldn’t be happier right now’, and that about summed it up for all of us. The race was won on preparation, tactics, a good crew and a bit of luck.”

In the Cruising A Class, only one point separated the three top boats: Happy Morning, Ribbit and Jaystar. In the end, it was St. Lucia’s David Onyons’ Sigma 36, Happy Morning, which took the lead by one point.

“The first day we were overpowered upwind, and probably underpowered downwind,” explains Onyons, who sailed to the Caribbean on the 2010 ARC. “The second day, we knew we had to do something different, so elected to sail with the full main and see what happened. We had a great day and really stepped it up a gear, including a neat 360 pivot on the start line to gain a port start flyer. The final day, we gained a Mount Gay girl, Ashley, and her friend Tiffany, so we finally had some weight on the rail and a now full complement of eight. We started with a pin end, port tack flyer over the rest of the fleet who were on starboard. We lead for 20 minutes until Ribbit overhauled us, but we still sailed a great race to finish over three minutes ahead of her on corrected time and take the overall first place. That was in spite of the headsail shredding on the final beat!”

The J/24 one-design class was the largest of the regatta with an impressive 16 boats on the line. Barbados’ Bruce Bayley, aboard his Fully Covered, handily won with four first place bullets in six races with a victorious combination of boat speed and tactics.

“The J24 class is very competitive here and the standard quite high,” tells Bayley. “After day two, we were dead-even with Hawkeye for first and expected to have a tough fight to the end. Fortunately I have had quite a bit of experience sailing in heavy air and I think it is fair to say that my technique in those conditions was better than my competitors. We had almost flawless crew work over the three day event and our success was directly as a result of us pulling together as a team and not making any mistakes.”

Finally, it was Barbados’ John Hanschell, aboard is Beneteau 50, Vagabond, who won the Cruising B Class.

“The racing was exhilarating,” Hanschell says. “The courses involved the usual beat to windward and included parts of the south coast and west coast with some very fast reaches where we recorded 11 knots boat speed on our GPS at one point. In addition to the sailing, I really enjoyed the camaraderie in our class. We actually have three Beneteau 50s. We will definitely be back next year!”

For full results, visit: sailbarbados.com

Carol M. Bareuther, RD, is a St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands based marine writer and registered dietitian.

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