The Bequia Sailing Club’s 31st Bequia Easter Regatta came in for universal praise as a total of 42 yachts and 30 local double-enders registered to take part in this famous sporting and tourism event. Conditions were near perfect with light steady breezes and glorious sunshine.
The regatta was officiated for the thirteenth year running by Principal Race Officer James Benoit from Grenada, working along side the seven-person Bequia Sailing Club Race Committee. Two one-design Classes – one for the 25ft French ‘Surprise’ boats from Martinique, and the other for the popular J24 racing yachts – a Racing (spinnaker) Class and two Cruising Classes divided up the 42-boat fleet.
Ten yachts made the overnight journey from Martinique. They were joined by boats from the UK, USA, Netherlands, Austria, Trinidad, Grenada, Carriacou, St. Vincent, Bequia, St. Lucia, Barbados and Antigua.
New Regatta Premier Sponsors ‘First Citizens’ awarded unique teak trophies to the winners of Friday’s First Citizens Yacht Races and Big Boat Challenge, whilst winners of Sunday’s 16-entry Heineken Single-handed Yacht Race – and Monday’s Heineken Yacht Races – all received additional prizes courtesy of Heineken.
Regatta sponsors United Insurance lent their name to the J24 three-race series on Saturday, with the United Insurance Challenge Trophy going to Fadeaway, from Barbados, skippered by Charlie Gloumeau. The eight-entry J24 Class included boats from St. Vincent, Barbados, Grenada and St. Lucia, each competing fiercely throughout the regatta’s six specially designed races. When the final results were tallied Fadeaway was the Overall Winner, thereby also taking the J24 Southern Caribbean’s Championship Trophy for 2012. St. Vincent’s own Saltfish, skippered by Philip Barnard, took a well earned second overall.
Overall winners in the other four classes were, Racing Class: Regis Guillemot Charters (Melges 24, Regis Guillemot, Martinique); Cruising I: Rasmus (Swan 43, Dieter Huppenkothen, Austria); Cruising II: Bandos, (FF 110, Dirk Gents, Netherlands) and Surprise: GFA Caraibes (Nicolas Gillet, Martinique), Gillet took three first places – and first in the Single Handed race – to give him a clean sweep and Overall Surprise Class Winner honors for the second year running.
Excitement ran at fever pitch on Friday for the inaugural First Citizens Big Boat Challenge, as the sleek new 28-footer Black Berry took part in her maiden race. Owned by the community of La Pompe, and built by a group of Bequia craftsmen led by boat-builder Jarson Hazell, Black Berry, skippered by Orson Ollivierre, drew huge crowds of onlookers wherever she raced. With ten entrants, the inaugural event was won by Skyler from Carriacou, skippered by Verrol Compton.
The 30-boat local double-ender fleet that took part in the three race series over the Easter weekend (two Heineken Challenges and a Mount Gay Challenge) came mostly from Bequia, with two boats coming from Carriacou. Overall winner of the Bank of SVG Trophy – in the hotly contested 28ft Class 7 – was Bequia’s Confusion skippered by Wayne Gooding. The other overall winners were Wisdom (Class I, Mountain Top Water Trophy) My Love (Class II, Bequia Sailing Club Trophy), Tornado (Class VA, Admiralty Transport Trophy), More Worries, (Class VB, Bequia Express Trophy), and Ace Plus from Carriacou taking overall in Class VI with The Bequia Sailing Club Trophy.
It wasn’t only competing boats that thronged the harbour in Admiralty Bay. An estimated one hundred additional power and sailing yachts came to Bequia to see the legendary local boat races, to follow the yacht races or simply enjoy being in Bequia at Easter. On Lay Day Sunday, regatta sponsors Bequia Beach Hotel hosted the Regatta’s Sandcastle and Crazy Craft race in Friendship Bay, followed by a delightful afternoon of live music and children’s entertainment in the hotel’s gardens by the beach.