Andrew Farkas, head of Island Global Yachting, spoke at the soft opening of the upgraded Rodney Bay Marina in December and praised Prime Minister Stephenson King’s governmental support. Farkas said IGY had been working to create a global network and chosen to make the Caribbean its first home.
“We are doing work in Grenada, St. Kits, Antigua, St. Lucia, St. Maarten, St. Thomas, Tortola, Virgin Gorda, the Bahamas, Turks and Caicos and Puerto Rico. Here’s what I can tell you with some degree of authority: there has never been a single government that has embraced us completely and totally and utterly the way the St. Lucia government has embraced IGY, the concept of yachting and the creation of a yachting destination like St. Lucia has,” said Farkas. “You guys got it. You were there for us, anything we needed we got accomplished at a moment’s notice.”
In addition to Prime Minister King, Farkas thanked Tourism Minister Allen Chastanet and the entire Cabinet, as well as the late Prime Minister Sir John Compton who, he said, had loved the idea of the project. It was Compton’s decision to convert a mosquito-infested swamp into development land that had resulted in the creation of the marina in the 1980s.
“Without governments that have vision and are prepared to trust people, these sorts of things don’t happen.” Farkas went on, “You gave us the opportunity to build this. We hope it will be able to bring to you the types of vessels you hope to have; we hope it will make the type of contribution to the economy you hope that it will make; we hope that it gives the pride to the people that you hope that it will bring and I hope that we have done everything that we said that we would do. I think that Rodney Bay Marina is now without question among the finest yachting facilities in the world.”
Farkas also thanked First Caribbean International Bank for being behind the project every step of the way. He hailed the new-look marina as a world-class facility saying it was as spectacular as any IGY had built anywhere.
“Our hope for this venue is that it attracts the same types of vessels that we have been able to attract from Mexico to Dubai,” said Farkas. So far about US$75 million had been invested in the project while the rest of the development would involve an additional expenditure of US$25 to US$30 million more, he said.
King thanked Farkas for demonstrating confidence in the government and people of St. Lucia, assured Farkas of his government’s continuing support and heaped praise on Marina General Manager Mr. Cuthbert Didier for “his energy, his spirit and his commitment in this very significant project.”
Speaking with reporters later about prospects for the marina this season Farkas said that if yachts came to the Caribbean, they would come to IGY marinas.
“The IGY facilities from St Lucia all the way to the east coast of the United States are the finest facilities there are. This facility here is the finest in this part of the Caribbean by far, so any vessels that come to this area will come here. The anecdotal evidence that we’ve seen in the course of the last four to six weeks is that the boats are coming…”
“The bottom line is that yachting as an industry for Caribbean nations is a spectacular contributor to economic growth,” said Farkas. “It is less sensitive to economic downturn because people who own these vessels, for the most part, are generally very well-to-do and even though they may take a hit, they can generally still afford their boats. So when you see boats like these come into any area, the contribution that they make is rather extraordinary.”
Report submitted by Ernie Seon
ARC Gives Thumbs Up to Rodney Bay Marina Upgrade
At the opening of the facility last weekend, Managing Director of the World Cruising Club Andrew Bishop said while some had thought Island Global Yachting ambitious in promising to get the marina ready for business in the time scale that was available, they had gone and delivered just that.
“The lagoon looks fantastic, the floating docks that they have put in replacing the old concrete ones that had been around for over 20 years have provided the uplift that the marina needed. By going for this more flexible system they have created a great venue for yachts to come to St. Lucia, not just for the ARC but at other times of the year as well.”
Bishop said ARC 2008 experienced one of the slowest crossings in several years. “Those yachts that were keen to sail the whole distance had to go looking for wind and found it hard to find. Many of the yachts had to go a long way south to get the wind that they needed to keep them moving towards the Caribbean. The Atlantic weather has been good for swimming but not for sailing.”
Bishop hailed the inclusion of Digicel as a major sponsor of the ARC this year, and praised improvements made to the programme of activities for the yachtsmen, families and friends.