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West Indies Regatta: Wet But Not Windy

Painted ships on a painted ocean. Photo by Rosemond Gréaux
Painted ships on a painted ocean. Photo by Rosemond Gréaux

Dubbed the ‘Wet Indies Regatta’ by organizer Alexis Andrews after lots of rain, the 2012 West Indies Regatta  suffered not only from cloudy skies but also from a lack of wind, resulting in no real racing over the weekend of May 4th-6th, at the 4th annual edition of this event in Saint Barth.

A highlight of the weekend was the participation of Scaramouche (referred to as ‘The Queen of the West Indies Regatta’), a traditional 72ft schooner built in 1969. The last of its kind, Scaramouche is based in The Grenadines where she works as a day charter boat under the watchful eye of Captain Martin Jeannett, who has owned the schooner since the 70s. “It is the last of the genuine Carriacou schooners,” he confirms, “a real museum piece.”

Lack of wind didn’t dampen the spirits of the captains and crew of the wonderful wooden sailboats that came to the island for the regatta. The real stars of the show are the boats themselves as much as the actual racing, as the event is intended to promote traditional boatbuilding skills in the Caribbean, and generate interest in keeping the spirit of wooden boats alive. To further his cause, Andrews is working on a documentary film entitled Vanishing Sails, and showed the trailer on the dock on Saturday evening. (You can find the clip on YouTube.)

In the spirit of fun and camaraderie, Andrews distributed the prizes anyway; with gifts from Kokon and Black Swan as well as mermaids by artist David Wegman. Other sponsors include Maya’s, Bete A Z’Ailes, La Plage, ALMA, LouLou and Jenny Magras, UNESCO, and the Port of Gustavia.

Winners included the sloop Tradition, for participating every year; Alexander Hamilton, for using its new sails in spite of no wind; Savvy, for the best and cleanest t-shirts; Summer Cloud, for trying hardest as they have no motor; and Ocean Nomad, for competitive spirit. Nils Dufau, representing the Collectivity of Saint Barthélemy, said he is already looking forward to seeing these traditional West Indies sailboats return to Saint Barth next year!

For more information, visit: www.westindiesregatta.com

Ellen Lampert-Gréaux lives in Saint Barthélemy where she is editor-in-chief of Harbour Magazine. She writes about entertainment design and technology for Live Design magazine, and about Caribbean architecture for MACO, a Trinidad-based lifestyle magazine.

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