The Grenada Round Island Easter Race moved to its new home this year, Le Phare Bleu Marina in Petit Calivigny, and from Good Friday through Easter Sunday there was plenty to engage the attention of both sailors and the shore based communities.
Large swells were forecast earlier in the week due to a system that had moved off the US coast and was making its way west-east. Luckily for Grenada the island was well south of any real danger, although yachting bar room chat and scary reports by some of the “floating village” fraternity of HUGE waves affected the entry numbers of this fun race.
For those that sailed into Le Phare Bleu for three free nights on the dock, there was plenty to enjoy. The lightship that provides the marina facilities plus bar, museum and fine dining has now been complemented by a shoreside bar/restaurant with an Italian flavour, Bernadetto’s. A pool surrounded by decking leads straight off the bar area with a backdrop of bungalows and landscaped gardens.
Ten boats in four classes set off at 0800 on Saturday. Last year’s winner Julia, (a 46ft Swan) owned and skippered by Champie Evans, arrived a little late and Magic Inspiration a Foutaine Pajot Catamaran, conversely was a bit too eager and arrived early which meant her having to re-cross the line as the other competitors powered by on the downwind start. Blanquilla, a 53 ft Swan, was first to raise her spinnaker.
A good breeze augured well for a quick time around the 45 nautical mile course, but unfortunately it proved a bit too much for Highlander; her gooseneck fitting failed before rounding Point Saline and she had to return to Le Phare Bleu.
The two Swans Julia and Blanquilla were head to head most of the way in Cruising 1 and Apero (Albin 36) and Tulaichaen II (Beneteau First 385) were having a tussle in Cruising II. Genesis, a 52 ft Catana Catamaran, was romping away in the first rate sailing conditions.
Genesis was to take line honours after a mere 5 .75 hours of sailing, closely followed by Julia, who was to retain her title for the second year running as fastest boat on corrected time…and she only narrowly missed being fastest boat ever! The other competitors all finished within 90 minutes of each other, leaving only No Worries, a 40ft Island Packet from Donaghadee, Northern Ireland, to make it back. A phone call from the Race Officer to the Captain assured everyone that all was well—the crew was busy hauling in fish and lighting the BBQ for a leisurely lunch!
On shore, Pirates of all ages and sizes had invaded and were tackling the ardors of the Pirates Trail, a fantasy obstacle contest that brought out the rival in everyone from ages four to 84! Rope ladders to scale, slides to negotiate, hoops to throw, fish to catch , eggs to secure and rum to catch through a skull – what more could a would-be pirate ask for – except maybe a chance to show his or her strength on the bungee run!
Afternoon ran into evening having cooled off in the pool, replaced lost liquid at the bar and relaxed to the sounds of Ghetto Netto, the Swing Band specially imported from Switzerland. The evening moved into night and, due to the generosity of the sponsors, there were trophies and prizes for everyone – food from the BBQ and dancing under the stars rounded off a perfect day.
Sunday, for those with enough energy, there was an opportunity to race a rib through a slalom course and try to beat the best pirate’s scores for one last time to secure a prize. For those that didn’t, brunch and comfortable seating made spectating a pleasure.
For everyone that participated or visited Le Phare Bleu this Easter, the weekend lived up to its expectations. For the many visiting yachts that take up residence here in Grenada for several weeks or months, this is one race that is definitely worth stowing the pot plants and securing the ornaments for, and as for residents with boats swinging on anchor or tied up on docks, a perfect opportunity to give your support and join in a unique Grenada event. www.aroundgrenada.com