The fourth annual South Grenada Regatta (SGR), held February 23rd – 26th out of Le Phare Bleu Marina, proved a history-maker by adding for the first time – and a first for Grenada – match racing to the sailing competition.
The Moorings and Sunsail donated two of their 41.3ft Beneteau charter yachts for the competition, which saw 12 teams spar in Clarkes Court Bay in two round-robins. The field narrowed quickly to six teams and then the final two, Green Dragon and Team Horizon, who faced off for the Finals. Spirits ran high and the whole atmosphere sizzled with excitement as spectators cheered on their favorites from a barge that Le Phare Bleu set up as a viewing platform. The Green Dragon team put up a good fight, but it was Team Horizon – Jacqui Pascall, Dwayne Haywood, John Pirovano, Earl Alexis and Candelle Thomas – that crossed the finish line first.
“A very close start but in gusty conditions we had the edge over the competition as we read the wind and handled the boat accordingly,” said Jacqui Pascall, who claimed Team Horizon’s interest in match racing stemmed from a desire to compete against some of Grenada’s top sailors and to bring together some of the Horizon staff for a fun day on the water. “The other crew had a problem when tacking the jib and we sailed away. We didn’t have any prior match racing experience, but plenty of sailing and racing experience. We hope to do more match racing and will be trying to get more of this type of racing on the Grenada calendar.”
The match racing was followed by two days of regular fleet racing. On Saturday yachts, divided into two cruising classes and a fun class, took their start for the North South Wines’ Veuve Clicquot Cup, which was won overall by Richard Szyjan aboard his Hobie 33, Category 5.
“The weather was consistently bad with a steady 28 knots plus in the squalls,” explains Szyjan, whose boat is actually 32ft in length – and fast – thanks to Szyjan’s modifications which included cutting the cockpit almost to the mast, changing the keel for a 2.40m foil with a torpedo bulb, and shortening the bow by one foot to accommodate a center retractable bow sprit on which to fly an asymmetrical spinnaker. “The Veuve Clicquot Cup is a downwind/upwind race. What led us to a win was the fact that we opted for a bigger jib and the wind died slightly after rounding Glover Island until we got a few hundred meters from the line. This was enough for us to avoid the full force of the squall that hit the competitors behind us.”
Jason Fletcher was named the overall winner of the Westerhall Twelve Degrees Cup, aboard his Albin Stratus 36, Apero.
“I think a combination of favorable weather, as Apero likes slightly heavier weather, combined with a new head sail from Turbulence Sails and good crew work, led to our win,” Fletcher said. “What I enjoyed most was the friendly family-type atmosphere. There was something for the entire family.”
While the big boats raced offshore, 19 junior sailors took part in the Junior Sailing Regatta aboard Optimist and Mosquito dinghies. Reese Evans won the Optimist Class with Noah Bullen and Brent McQueen second and third, respectively. Christon Henry championed the Mosquito class with Dennis Bernardine second and Justin James third.
The winds calmed down slightly for the last day of big boat racing. In the end, it was Robbie Yearwood, aboard his J/24, Die Hard, that was named overall South Grenada Regatta Champion.
Who knows what the organizing committee will come up with next year, but this year’s addition of not only match racing but also a floating musical concert the day before definitely makes 2012 a regatta to remember.
Carol M. Bareuther, RD, is a St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands based marine writer and registered dietitian.