Caribbean Regatta Dates 2014: January – March

The Caribbean regatta season kicks-off in a big way come January. In the first three months of the year alone, there are over a dozen competitive sailing events for everything from mono to multihulls, dinghies to superyachts. Here is a sampling of events and what’s new this year:

January 15 – 24
Mount Gay Rum Round Barbados Race Series Organizers have expanded the program to include three days of coastal racing plus the main event, the 78th Anniversary Round Barbados Race. The event will conclude with the Open Passage Race to Antigua. Entries include Round Barbados Race record-holders, Idea, a 78ft Reichel-Pugh and Silver Bullet, a 30ft Super Cat.

January 30 – February 2
The Superyacht Challenge Antigua: Ten 80-foot-plus yachts will sail in Pursuit-style races that start and finish off English Harbor. Nightly parties include a culinary competition. “All yachts will be on the new superyacht dock in Nelson’s Dockyard,” says organizer, Paul Deeth. “This should make the cook-off at the stern of each yacht a lot more fun.” Entries include the 98ft Farr-designed, Leopard 3; 147ft ketch-rigged sailing yacht, Timoneer; and the152ft schooner, Windrose.

January 30 – February 4
Island Water World Grenada Sailing Week: New courses, new party venues and new lay day fun activities are on tap for this big keelboat regatta. “The regatta will move to different bays and host venues around the western and southern coast of Grenada,” explains organizer, Ruth Lund. The Skippers Briefing/Welcome Party takes place at Camper and Nicholson’s Port Louis Marina with racing off Grand Anse, then to Le Phare Bleu Marina for a waterside Pirate Party and lay day Hobie Cat Match Racing with Live Music Dinghy Concert. Prickly Bay Marina hosts the final two days of racing, including the prize-giving. Thirty-five to 45 yachts are expected.

January 31 – February 2
San Juan International Regatta: Over 100 sailors will compete in Optimists, Lasers, Sunfish, J/24s, IC-24s and CSA Racing classes. “We are adding a one-design Hunter 216 Class for 2014,” says regatta director Jose Berrios. A one-design J/70 class is expected to be added for 2015. Best of both world conditions see dinghies compete in the calm of San Juan Bay and bigger boats out in the Atlantic Ocean.

February 9 – 10
Budget Marine Interlux Open Regatta: Skill alone, not the investment in the latest marine equipment, is what wins this regatta raced on identical Sunfast 20’ mini-yachts in Simpson Bay Lagoon. “The schedule is designed to get lots of races in and to give everyone a new chance of winning,” says organizer and sponsor Robbie Ferron. Previous winners include Frits Bus, Jolyon Ferron, Karl James and Ashley Rhodes. Twelve teams are expected.,

February 11 – 16
RC44 Virgin Gorda Cup: Eight-plus powerhouse teams will sail in the RC44 Championship Tour’s first stop in the Caribbean. Hosted out of BVI’s Yacht Club Costa Smeralda, sailors will race around the buoy and on coastal courses. The RC44 was designed by five-time America’s Cup winner Russell Coutts.

February 13 – 16
Jolly Harbour Valentine’s Regatta & Rum Festival: “Courses for racers and separate easier reaching courses to encourage cruisers, live-aboards and shorthanded sailors, plus free marina berthing for contestants, should make this a destination regatta for Caribbean cruisers as well as the dedicated racing crowd,” says organizer and JHYC commodore Dr. Alan ‘Budgie’ Bungie.

February 22 – 23
Ulysse Nardin Regatta/BRISA Cup: Thirty-plus boats will race off Fajardo in this Borinquen Island Sailing Association (BRISA) hosted regatta. Classes include CSA Racing and Cruising and IC24s. Past winners and current entrants include Sergio Sagramoso’s J/122, Lazy Dog; Jonathan Lupiscek’s J/105, Dark Star; and Jaime Torres’ Melges 32, Smile & Wave.

February 24 – 28
RORC Caribbean 600: The first two entries for the 6th edition of this 600-mile race around 14 Caribbean islands were Antigua’s Bernie Wong aboard a chartered Grand Soleil 43, Quokka, and a crew from the British Royal Armored Corps Yacht Club who have chartered the First 40, Southern Child. There will be over 50 entries from two dozen-plus nations.

February 28 – March 2
St. Maarten Multihull Regatta: New is an extra day of short course races. “We’re anticipating 10 to 12 multihulls, 12 regional beach cats and hopefully a container with beach cats from Europe coordinated by organizers of the Around Texel Race in the Netherlands, Europe’s biggest cat race,” says organizer Mirian Ebbers.

March 6 – 9
St. Maarten Heineken Regatta: Over 200 yachts will race with crews representing more than 32 countries. New, says regatta assistant Karen Smith, “is an Inshore Class where a one design fleet will race allowing an affordable and fun way to join our regatta.” Several returning and new boats include Team J World Annapolis and ARC entrant, Khalessi, a 44’ X-452 with a young Norwegian crew.

March 6 – 9
South Grenada Regatta: Two days of competitive fleet racing in CSA spinnaker, CSA non-spinnaker, multihull, fun and J/24 classes; a total of four title cups; exciting new race courses; plus Lay Day Match Races on Rush 10 catamarans are in store for 2014. “Spectators can experience the thrill of the races from the start-line floating bar, and other activities such as a day of junior sailing, speedboat tours, and a Pirate’s Trail for the kids ensures that there’s something for everyone,” says organizer Connie Martin. Participating boats get free berthing during the regatta weekend at Le Phare Bleu Marina.

March 19 – 22
Loro Piana Caribbean Superyacht Regatta & Rendezvous: An impressive fleet of nearly 30 sailing and motor yachts will set sail in this event that balances competitive racing with a packed social program for owners, guests and crew.

March 27 – 30
St. Barths Bucket Regatta: This invitational regatta welcomes over 40 entries ranging from the latest superyacht designs to true classics. “Depending on fleet composition, it’s the race committee’s intent to have a racing class: Les Guépards des Mers that will start first with either a conventional fleet start or staggered start,” explains event manager Jeanne Kleene. “The Cruising fleet may be divided into three classes with a pursuit race format: Les Gazelles des Mers; Les Mademoiselles des Mers and Les Grandes Dames des Mers.

March 28 – 30
St. Thomas International Regatta: Formerly the International Rolex Regatta, no other regatta in the Caribbean offers so many classes and rating rules under which to compete. Teams are invited to enter in Caribbean Sailing Association (CSA); IRC; High Performance Rule (HPR); Multihull; CSA Bareboat; CSA (unmeasured) for boats from the U.S. Virgin Islands, British Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico; Beach Cats; and One-Design classes with a minimum length of 20ft. “Those of us running Caribbean events believe this will be a banner year for us,” says regatta director Bill Canfield.

March 31 – April 6
BVI Spring Regatta & Sailing Festival: New this year is the return of the one-design course. “We’ve been working with the Melges and J-Boat associations to attract more one-design classes,” says Judy Petz. In addition, the winner of the International Yacht Club Challenge wins a free Sunsail charter. The event is known for competitive racing in three bodies of water, plus its nightly regatta village. In addition, the 2nd Caribbean Insurer Island Invitational, a race plus BBQ back on shore for the whole family, is April 2 and part of the Sailing Festival.

Carol M. Bareuther, RD, is a St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands based marine writer and registered dietitian.