The new format Mount Gay Round Barbados Race Series, incorporating a series of coastal races as well as the iconic Mount Gay Round Barbados Race, and a final 300-mile sprint to Antigua to tie up with the Superyacht Cup, was deemed a huge success.
Organized by the Barbados Cruising Club in association with the Barbados Tourism Authority and Mount Gay, this annual event played its part in kick-starting the Caribbean racing season.
With just under 50 boats from all around the world, plus a strong Caribbean contingent, close competition prevailed throughout the week.
One of the strongest classes was the J/24 with ten boats racing. Big winds and big seas put crews through their paces. One of the most memorable days was day two of the coastal series when a 30kt gust hit the fleet on a spinnaker run. Boats fell like dominos, with one boat – Die Hard Island Water World – suffering the biggest knockdown and remaining on her side for five minutes.
Overall class winner was the local boat Banks Esperanza with Ian Mayers on the helm. Their overall win was even more impressive because they finished the last race of the series in second place, with a broken boom.
“We had a worrying long last run in the final race because of our broken boom,” said Mayers. “It failed just before the windward mark and it was a marathon of a run. However, we did it and held our position to the finish.”
Barbadian Neil Burke and his team on Impulse took second place, while Hawkeye finished third overall. The Mount Gay-sponsored J/24, Bunga Bunga, concluded with a final race win, which placed them in fourth overall.
Local team on Rapajam, Ralph Johnson’s Beneteau First 53, enjoyed close competition in Racing class against Peter Lewis’s J/105 Whistler from the UK, and another British boat, Idea, a Reichel Pugh 78 owned by John Wilson and skippered by local Clint Brooks. With two firsts and a second, Johnson (74) and his family and friends on Rapajam were deemed overall class winners.
The Cruising class enjoyed equally close racing with Tom Slade’s Santa Cruz 52 from the USA, Renegade, taking the overall class win.
Bryn Palmer, from Barbados, was out and about zipping around the course in the Supercat 30, Silver Bullet, and although he did have competition from Ben Armstrong in a Hobie 21, he finished the series with three wins. Unfortunately, Armstrong had to retire in the final race when his boat suffered damage in a collision with the Beneteau Spirit of Venus soon after the start.
Another popular class was the Non Rated class. With ten boats racing, this fleet produced some interesting competition particularly at the top end of the fleet between David Spieler’s Beneteau 47 Leonora from BVI, and Bill Tempro’s Bavaria 46, My Mistress. With three wins in the bag, Leonora was the overall winner. My Mistress, and the well-sailed local Catalina 40, Ten Seven, finished second and third, respectively.
“We are thrilled to have retained the trophy we first captured last year, and even more satisfied to have won it with three clear wins,” said Leonora’s Spieler. “It has been a first class regatta with great competition, great winds and great parties.”
The Mount Gay Round Barbados Race held on Tuesday 21 January, was spectacular with 36 boats tackling the 60-mile course clockwise around the island. First to finish was solo sailor Peter Allen aboard his catamaran, Stiletto, who completed the course in 7h 53m 55s. However, the biggest prize of the day – for an outright win based on elapsed time – went to Raphaël Grisoni and his Mount Gay team aboard the British VO70, Monster Project.
Monster Project completed the course in 4h 42m 28s, knocking 21 minutes off the previous record established in 2012 by Idea, Idea, however, broke the CSA record for corrected time.
Andy Budgen, owner and crew boss of Monster Project said he was absolutely delighted with the team’s performance. “To be honest it was a bit of a shock to have broken the record. The team sailed exceptionally well, which, of course, was the key to our amazing achievement. Hopefully we’ll be able to return next year and defend our title, assuming we are still around after drinking our skipper’s weight in rum which was our prize for winning.”
Peter Gilkes, consultant to the Barbados Tourism Authority for Yachting Development, said he couldn’t have wished for a better regatta.
“It is a youthful event but with tremendous possibilities for growth and development. I don’t see a Barbados Round The Island Race Series ever being a massive regatta with 500 or 600 yachts but what I do forecast is this event in the next few years attracting some of the elite of world sailing to our shores and, as we saw from this year’s event, some of the owners of some very smart yachts made a special effort to visit Barbados to do this event.
For more information, visit: http://mountgayrumroundbarbadosrace.com