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Oyster Regatta 2011 Off to a Flying Start

Port Louis marina, a recent addition to the Camper and Nicholson portfolio, sits nestled on the lee side of the lush tropical island of Grenada. In the growing superyacht market, Port Louis now not only caters to the more modest boats but also boats up to 90 meters in length and with a six meter draft. As the mighty Maltese Falcon can concur it is one of only two marinas in the world that enables the boat to switch off its generator.

Little wonder, then, that when considering a new venue for their biannual regatta and rendezvous, British based Oyster Marine Ltd., was seduced by the lure of Port Louis and the 'Spice Island'. The lush rain forest, waterfalls, scents of nutmeg, cinnamon and vanilla in the air and an Abundance of mouth-watering beach-front eateries added to the appeal. The nightly parties at Le Phare Bleu, the Aquarium, La Luna and Port Louis marina were preceded by an opening cocktail party and buffet at the boutique resort of Mount Cinnamon with the Prime Minister, the Hon. Tillman Thomas, as guest of honor.

Twenty-four boats in two classes lined up on the start line, with a few more in the Oyster family cruising the area. A combination of courses – of around 20 miles each day – was set to enhance the appreciation of the beautiful tropical coastline.

Racing's Formula 1 pundit and former team boss Eddie Jordan took time out to enjoy the spoils the island had to offer and helmed his Oyster 655 Lush to victory in the opening race with Chris Shea's 72, Magrathea, chomping at her heels.

Aside from a few 655's – one of the latest designs from the Oyster fold – the week welcomed boats at the other end of the spectrum. Adrian Hartley and Christine Webster's Quadrille II did well for her 20-something years on the water by crossing the line first in each of the four races. For this they received a special prize.

Another couple for whom it was about taking part in the adventure was Ray and Birgitte Charmak racing their Oyster 53 Out of India. They had a great start on day three. Racing from the picturesque Calivigny Bay, they judged the line well and set off at pace.

"I was determined to get a good start today," said Ray. "We have been shy of the line on the last two occasions and as one of the smallest boats in the class, we always have most of the fleet in front of us. Before we decided to set off on our adventures with Out of India, Birgitte and I had hardly done any sailing at all. We really jumped in at the deep-end. Now we have sailed the yacht across the Atlantic and completed thousands of miles together. But the boat is not set up for racing, so our main aim at these regattas is to have fun and we are certainly doing that in Grenada."

One of the many boats that make the winter transatlantic pilgrimage is SunsuSea. Having crossed on the ARC in 2009, Mariusz and Paulina Kierebinscy from Poland have enjoyed cruising the varied Caribbean waters.

"My family loves to sail especially in the Caribbean. This is our second Oyster Regatta and although we have little experience of racing, it's a great way to learn how to improve our sailing technique," said Mariusz. He added, "We really like Grenada. It is such a friendly place and safe for our children. After the regatta we will be cruising through The Grenadines to St. Lucia, our last adventure before the boat returns across the Atlantic."

Ingrid Abery is a freelance photographer and writer. She has contributed to specialist sailing titles, travel, lifestyle and men's magazines. Her camera has put her at the heart of events such as the America's Cup and the Olympics. www.ingridabery.com

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