The outlook for the Caribbean’s 2022 winter and spring regatta season is sunny and bright. That’s great news after protocols and precautions to protect against the COVID 19 pandemic led to the cancellation of most major regattas from the BVI to Grenada for the last two years, and the St. Thomas International Regatta for one as organizers were able to hold the event in 2021. Here’s a preview of what to expect:
There are 12 major Caribbean regattas scheduled from January through May 2022, according to the Caribbean Sailing Association’s (CSA) Caribbean Regatta Circuit Calendar. As of late November, there have been no cancellations, regatta organizers have planning underway and some of the hottest racing yachts in the Caribbean and World are already entered.
“We are very optimistic about racing in the Caribbean in the spring. From a global perspective, travel has resumed, and we know competitors are eager to return and experience the magic of racing here,” says Laura Muma, spokesperson for Les Voiles de St. Barth Richard Mille, April 17-23, 2022, in St. Barths. “We are also thrilled to be included as a featured event for the International Maxi Association’s (IMA) new Caribbean Maxi Challenge, open to all Maxis above 60 feet.”
The IMA’s first Caribbean Series includes four regattas: the RORC Caribbean 600 (February 21), St. Maarten Heineken Regatta (March 3-6), Les Voiles de St Barths Richard Mille, and Antigua Sailing Week (April 30-May 6).
Likewise, “We are very confident about the 2022 edition and the return of the Bucket is well underway with planning and preparations in full swing,” says Jeanne Kleene, event manager for the St. Barths Bucket, March 17-20, 2022. “The big boat regattas in the Med this year, coupled with the 5 superyacht regattas that have taken place beginning in June, reinforce that belief. As many people expressed during the pandemic, there is now a pent-up demand, and our superyacht owners, captains, and crew are eager to get back into action.”
The Corinthian Spirit initiative returns to the 2022 Bucket, with new class rules accepting both spinnaker non-spinnaker entries. Organizers will also offer a 90-foot Class.
With record entries for the ARC (Atlantic Rally for Cruisers) and RORC Transatlantic, the number of sailing boats in the region will be impressive, according to Michele Korteweg, general manager of the St. Maarten Yacht Club and CSA president. “Many already indicated an interest in the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta, including several Polish teams returning to defend their titles from 2020 and previous years. Many of them have chartered Volvo 60s and 70s including I Love Poland, who got first place in their class in 2020. On a regional and local level, we are happy to welcome the Melges 32 fleet back and there are 2 DIAM 24s that will participate. Hopefully, we will attract another Diam 24s already in the region to start a one-design class. This is something we are looking forward to growing as they are great boats with lots of potential and are easily shipped.”
There were 59 official entries for Antigua Sailing Week (ASW) by the end of November. “This is more than double the number for this period relative to 3 years ago,” says Rana Jamila-Lewis, events and marketing manager. “We have strong UK interest followed by Germany and we expect to see an increase in American entries after the holidays. Overall, very positive from the local market as well with much of the Antigua flagged previous participants already committed to taking part.
For the first time in 2022, ASW will host a dedicated women’s race day to recognize female skippers and participants. There will also be a new sport boat class, which has been in development since 2020.
Interest is picking up from international sailors wanting to visit Barbados to participate in Barbados Sailing Week, January 18-23, says Renata Goodridge, organizer, CSA Measurer, and member of the Barbados Sailing Association. “As of November 2021, the Blue Peter and Spirit of Juno from Antigua are confirmed, and six other positive enquiries. We are also excited to have kiteboarding as a class for 2022, so there will be lots of action.”
A few highlights of entries as of late November for Les Voiles de St. Barth Richard Mille are the USA’s Wendy Schmidt’s new Botin 85 Deep Blue, the USA’s Jim Swartz’s 72-foot Maxi Vesper, and an impressive number of beautiful Swan yachts ranging from 58- to 80-feet.
Over a dozen yachts were registered as of November for the 48th St. Thomas International Regatta (March 25-27, 2022) and the 49th BVI Spring Regatta and Sailing Festival (March 28-April 3).
“We have condensed the race week to allow visiting boats a few extra days to sail before the Sailing Festival begins March 30th,” says Judy Petz, director of the BVI regatta. “The Sailing Festival starts with the Scrub Island Invitational Regatta, a fun race taking the fleet to the eastern islands, such as Virgin Gorda, before arriving at Scrub Island Resort and Marina. Racing will continue the next morning with a race towards the BVI western island group. This new format allows for an abundance of informal racing, a view of the different islands of the BVI, and acts as a warm-up to the main event that kicks off April 1.”
Ten boats from the Caribbean, Europe, and the USA were entered for the Caribbean Multihull Challenge (February 4-6) as of November. These include the USA’s Greg Slyngstad’s Bieker 53, Fujin, and USA’s Todd Slyngstad’s HH66, Nemo.
“This is the kind of year that it is hard to know numbers ahead. Unlike in the past, bookings may come late,” says Steve Burzon, one of the regatta organizers. “On the windiest day of the three of the event, we will present a 60 nautical mile course starting in Simpson Bay, and heading upwind to St. Barth’s, then turning north toward the French island of Tintamarre, and then a downwind race in the famed Anguilla Channel and back to Simpson Bay. This 60-mile course is open to any CMC registered yacht that can complete the entire course in under six hours. This is going to be fun for the Ocean Racing and Carbon Fiber lightweight cruisers.”
THE NEW NORMAL
The new normal for Caribbean regattas will be a strong and continued focus on great racing offshore.
“Social events may have to be curtailed a little, but our focus will be the sailing/racing side of things so that probably won’t affect us too much,” says Ginny Field, press officer for the Antigua Classic Yacht Regatta, March 30-April 4, 2022.
Similarly, the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta’s Korteweg adds, “Onshore entertainment is still being reviewed, however big concerts are currently not being considered. Light entertainment, (daily) prize giving and an after-sailing happy hour seem more feasible, all depending on the COVID situation closer to the time. This means that the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta concept will be adjusted to fit within the current pandemic situation, focused on offering world-class sailing.”
For a calendar of Caribbean regattas, visit: https://caribbean-sailing.com/calendars/international-regatta-5-year-calendar/ For links to Regatta COVID Updates, visit: https://caribbean-sailing.com/regatta-covid-updates/