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Caribbean Regatta Preview January through March 2011

Sailboat racing is a year-round sport in the Caribbean, but the competition really heats up come winter and spring where there’s a regatta just about every weekend. Here’s a sneak peek and sampling of what’s happening, what’s new and how you can get in on the fun.

January 28-February 1: Port Louis Grenada Sailing Festival. Work boats and production boats star in this annual event raced off the island’s southern shores. Charters available. Parties nightly. Dockage available at Camper and Nicholson’s Port Louis Marina. www.grenadasailingfestival.com

February 10-13: Trinidad Carnival Regatta. “Big boats will race in Trinidad’s Gulf of Paria where there are greater facilities, while kiteboarding and bumboats will sail out of the traditional Tobago venue.” says Jay Alvi, president of the host Trinidad and Tobago Sailing Association (TTSA), “We anticipate several racing classes: a racer cruiser division, Champagne class (cruisers and bareboats) and one design classes for J24 and Melges 24. A long distance race to the south is planned for racing and racer-cruiser classes in addition to buoy racing.” Go party at the regatta village at TTSA’s Hart’s Cut Bay location in Chagaramas. www.ttsailing.org

February 11-13: St. Croix Yacht Club Hospice Regatta and Optimist Regatta. Competitive and compassionate is a good way to describe this well-run regatta which is part of the National Hospice Regatta Alliance. “We have a strong one-design small boat program, but for this event we want everyone to jump on a bigger boat,” says race committee chairperson, Jim Kloss. Sailors are invited to ‘Jump-Up’ in Christiansted, where shops and restaurants stay open late. www.stcroixyc.com

February 18-20: Sweethearts of the Caribbean. Fun racing is the rule at this flagship event of Tortola’s West End Yacht Club (WEYC). “We added a couple’s class a few years back,” says commodore Martin van Houten. “Couples can race on any boat they wish to enter.” Post-race party at the Jolly Roger in Soper’s Hole. www.weyc.net

February 21: RORC Caribbean 600 Race. This third annual Antigua-based event spans 11 islands. Several ARC (Atlantic Rally for Cruisers) yachts are expected to race, including the Swan 80, Berenice. Yachts from nine nations were entered as of late fall. caribbean600.rorc.org

February 25-26: Around St. Maarten-Saint Martin Multihull Regatta. All boats with more than one hull are invited to enter. “We expect to have at least 15 to 20 boats in four classes and are also working on a special ‘gun boat’ class,” says organizer, Mirian Ebbers. Prize-giving is at the Pasanggrahan Royal Hotel. www.multihullregatta.com

February 25-27: South Grenada Race. Up to 25 boats, everything from monohulls up to 70 feet to one-design J/24s and multihulls, compete. “This young event has the charm of a big family with lots of character,” says organizer, Lynn Fletcher. “Cruisers join landlubbers, locals mingle with tourists and the whole mix gives an atmosphere of achievement, fun and friendship.”

February 27-March 8: Route du Carnaval. Cast off from Martinique en route to Trinidad for Carnival. “Participants enjoy flotilla sailing, an organizer on board one of the boats to assist and coordinate, and parties and excursions in each stop-over port,” says organizer, Stéphane Legendre.

March 3-6: 31st St. Maarten Heineken Regatta. Serious fun on land and sea, match and fleet racing, and courses to fit every racer is what attracts over 250 yachts. “We’ll follow the same race format as in past years,” says assistant regatta director, Michele Korteweg. “This means the ’round the island’ course is still on Friday.” www.heinekenregatta.com

March 4-7: Dark and Stormy. This WEYC event includes a poker style run where for each activity sailors enter they receive a card. Race up to Anegada; enjoy a play day with horseshoes, kite-flying, sandcastle building, dinghy races, and hamburgers and hotdogs, then race back to Tortola. www.weyc.com

March 11-13: Casa de Campo Regatta. Thirty boats, including racing, performance cruising, cruising and catamaran classes, will compete on windward/leeward courses plus an around Catalina Island race. “We invite yachts from other clubs in the Dominican Republic as well as countries such as Puerto Rico, St. Maarten and Antigua to make this a truly international event,” says organizer Rafid Ynirio. http://marinacasadecampo.com.do/

March 18-20: Puerto Rico Heineken International Regatta. Palmas del Mar will once again play host venue. Racers, cruisers, multihulls and dinghies are welcome. “J/24 and Hobie teams from Mexico and the Dominican Republic will make racing highly competitive in those classes,” says regatta director, Angel Ayala.

March 24-27: St. Barths Bucket Regatta. This invitational event features sleek sailing yachts competing in either Racing ‘Les Gazelles des Mers’ or Cruising ‘Les Grandes Dames des Mers’ classes. www.bucketregattas.com/stbarths

March 25-27: 38th International Rolex Regatta. Hosted by the St. Thomas Yacht Club, from 80 to 100 boats are expected to set sail in IRC, CSA and multihull classes. “We offer a good combination of point-to-point and round the island racing,” says regatta director, Bill Canfield. Shore-side activities include live bands and great parties. www.rolexcupregatta.com

March 28-April 3: BVI Spring Regatta and Sailing Festival. New for the 40th anniversary celebration is the introduction of the invitational Grade 3 Gill BVI International Match Racing Championships on March 30-31, where eight teams will compete in IC24s. There’s also the Sailing Festival and main event BVI Spring Regatta which sailors around the world have come to love. www.bvispringregatta.org

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

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