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Ode to the Mega Yachts Season 2011

Imagine my joy at driving over Sint Maarten’s Simpson Bay Bridge in November to see a host of mega yachts tied up at the various marinas. Why was I so happy? Well, like the first snow in colder climes or the sight of a flight of geese high overhead, in the Caribbean the appearance of the first mega yachts heralds a change of season. The time for hurricanes has past, the trade winds begin to whisper, and the regional yachting fiesta gets under way.

Like most seasons the Caribbean yachting season is usually slow to build. Take the racing scene. Yes, there is racing all year round but most of it is at club level. Come the new season and out come the big guns. You know the regattas, their names roll off the tongue and fill many a sailor’s winter night with dreams: Antigua Sailing Week, St. Maarten Heineken Regatta, BVI Spring Regatta, USVI International Rolex Regatta – Anguilla, Carriacou, Grenada, the list goes on and on. In this month’s edition, Carol Bareuther gives us a preview of what’s available this season for your racing pleasure.

Having touched on mega yachts and race boats, I would be in trouble if I didn’t mention cruising boats. For years cruising boats made up a good part of the Caribbean’s racing fleets but over the years those numbers have dropped dramatically until now few cruisers are willing to take part in a Caribbean regatta, and that’s a shame. Yes, the cost of entering a regatta might be an issue but remember you don’t have to enter your own boat, crewing opportunities do exist and on some of the fastest and most famous boats around. Another way to enjoy a regatta is to volunteer to help run it. You won’t get much in return, probable just an extra-large t-shirt and load of free beer. But you will come away with fabulous memories and some great pictures. The minute a regatta rolls into town, some cruisers leave. Quickly. That’s OK too, it’s the beauty of cruising and why the Caribbean offers something for everyone.

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