The sixth Island Water World Grenada Sailing Week (GSW), held January 29 to February 3 out of St. George’s, Grenada, kicked-off with a blast. First, there was a record 50 registrations, over 40 participating yachts in five classes and more than 350 sailors contending. Secondly, competition literally kicked-off with a blast of breeze. Squally weather with strong winds for the first few days were followed by almost nonexistent winds, providing something for everyone, fun for all and boatloads of good stories.
“Racing Grenada’s South Coast the first day was brutal – big winds, three-knot tides, waves and rocks everywhere,” says Antigua’s Sandy Mair, who helmed his Beneteau First 35, Cricket, to fifth in Racer/Cruiser II, which was won by Grenada’s Peter ‘Champy’ Evans with a string of bullets aboard his Elan 37, Julie Rule. “My own little boat misjudged the tide at the top mark and rapidly went from first to last with the buoy around her rudder and successfully towed the mark over half a mile. The language was ‘blue’ – or should that be called Scottish.”
It wasn’t the conditions, but a last-minute lack of registration, that proved most trying to Evans and his Julie Rule team. “After some scrambling around at the start of the skippers’ briefing, the situation was rectified. As for the racing, I’d have to say that winning the class and the overall resulted from knowing my boat well and choosing a good crew, also, local knowledge. Mostly it’s the fact that I have been racing for over 50 years and have experience in most sailing conditions.”
Lighter winds on day three suited Trinidad & Tobago’s Peter Morris, whose Racer/Cruiser I class winner, Jaguar, a Frers 43, lived up to its name. “The first race from Prickly Bay to Port Louis and the long spinnaker run in lighter winds on the west coast of Grenada suited us perfectly.”
Competition was even closer in the Racing Class, won by Trinidad & Tobago’s Mark Chapman on his Ker 11.3, Dingo. Nipping at his heels was Grenada’s Jason Fletcher sailing his newly-built and just-in-time launched Caribbean 33, Nickatime. “On the last day, we were leading in the first race until Nickatime overtook us,” said Chapman. “They led us by one point going into the last race. In that last race, we had some favorable wind and took the lead again by one point to win.”
Meanwhile, Team Tigress, a UK-based race chartered First 40, put up a good fight in the Racing Class, but ended up good sports rather than with a podium finish. “We had a tricky GSW as the vessel shipping our brand-new sails from the UK was canceled and we were left to race with our old Dacron ones that we used to bring the boat across the Atlantic. This was very tough on our team who had flown from the Hamble (UK) and Canada. Despite this, we had a fun regatta and enjoyed the sailing and the parties.”
One of the prettiest of GSW’s classes was the Classics. Grenada’s Judd Tinius’ 70 foot 1899-built classic yawl, Galatea won. Yet second place finisher, the UK’s Mathew Barker’s Alfred Mylne 65, The Blue Peter, almost didn’t make it to the start line. “We sprung a leak racing around Barbados falling off a 12-foot wave. Quite often wooden boats heal themselves, but this didn’t so with a little help from Clarke’s Court and Driftwood we hauled her, plugged the leak using car headlights to work by and put her back two hours before the first race.”
Another classic beauty, Savvy, a 43-foot Petite Martinique Sloop, owned and chartered by Grenada’s Danny Donelan, was raced by Donelan, Grenadian boat builder Walter Ollivierre and a team of U.S. sailors from New Orleans. Although the visitors made sure to win the best costume prize for the pirate party, as they did last year, they didn’t take home a race trophy. However, Donelan perfectly summed up the widespread appeal of GSW by his fellow sailors: “I would say it’s a more personal regatta than many of the bigger ones that employ professional crews, where everyone goes home early to prepare for the next day. Instead, it’s the combination of racing and partying all night plus the fact that many of the participants come back every year that makes this one of the most fun regattas around.”
For full results, visit: www.grenadasailingweek.com
Carol M. Bareuther, RD, is a St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands based marine writer and registered dietitian.