Squally winds reaching 30kts from the northeast made for magical sleigh-ride, record-breaking conditions in the 82nd Mount Gay Round Barbados Race.
While lively conditions and big seas proved too much for many of the 34 entries in the 60nm sprint around Barbados, for others it couldn’t have been more thrilling. In total seven records were smashed – the largest ever number of records broken in the history of the event.
One of the biggest heroes of the day was Trevor Hunte, the local adrenalin junkie who, on his Starboard Phantom Batwing 377 windsurfer, destroyed his own record set in 2016 by just over four minutes with a time of 5h 30m 46s.
As he arrived on the beach at the Barbados Cruising Club to crowds of well-wishers, an elated and exhausted Hunte confessed it was the most emotional and difficult sail of his life, and that he was just so happy to be back in one piece. “You can’t train for a sail like that. North point was incredibly dangerous with swells of easily three meters. It was an incredible and difficult challenge. At East Point the waves finally got me. They were huge and I got bombed off a couple of times and as I fell I cut my toe in the metal mast-foot track. If that hadn’t happened I would have been here ten minutes earlier.”
Arguably the most notable result of the day with a finish time of 4h 13m 37s was CQS, the 100ft multi-winged supermaxi from Australia skippered by Ludde Ingvall that not only broke the Absolute Monohull record but also established the 100ft and under record.
As CQS crossed the line, it didn’t take long for her and her super-tuned crew to power up, weave their way through the fleet and prepare for the extreme conditions and big seas at North Point. Ingvall, a former round the world yachtsman, world champion and record holder, commenting after the race, said: “We are delighted because that is what we came here for. I felt we should have been a bit quicker but we are happy nevertheless. It was wild out there and we had 30+knts of wind on the nose going round the north-west/north-east point but the boat performed well recording 24-25kts of boat speed at times offwind.”
Among the young sailors taking part was Jason Tindale (27) in College Funds. He and his team from the Barbados Yacht Club again demonstrated their skill by sailing a tactically sound race. Having established the J/24 record in 2015 and bettered their time in 2016, they did it again with a time of 8h 18m 9s.
Commenting on his epic sail, Tindale said: “It was, without doubt, the worst conditions I have ever seen at North Point. We had squalls of 30+kts with gusts but we had no option other than to carry on.”
The 50ft and under record went to the two-year old British custom-built Marc Lombard 46 IRC cruiser/racer, Pata Negra, owned and skippered by Giles Redpath with a time of 6h 19m 53s. Redpath and his team of mainly locals, some never having sailed before, did exceptionally well given the extreme conditions.
Having conquered the challenging conditions at North Point, Pata Negra was making 20kts of boat speed at times in what Redpath described as ‘sleigh ride’ conditions.
Sailing such a challenging race with a crew is tough enough but to race it alone is a huge feat. Single-hander Andreas Berg from Germany sailed an impressive race and managed to break the record he set in 2017 in his Dufour 44 Luna. This highly focused sailor prepared well and used his previous experience to improve his overall record time by just over 10 minutes with a time of 7h 57m 19s.
Conviction, the local Botin Carkeek-designed TP52 with David Staples at the helm sailed a great race and broke the 60ft and under record by just over three minutes. Mention must also be made of the consistently fast local team on the J/105 Whistler. Fresh from her CSA Racing Coastal Series overall win Whistler, with Peter Lewis on the helm, took the CSA record with a time of 6h 11m 40s.
The extreme conditions were far from ideal for the four foiling kitesurfers. However, Kevin Talma persevered and was the only one who managed to complete the course and establish the Foiling Kitesurfer record with a time of 5h 42m 33s.
The Classic fleet, including The Blue Peter, Mat Barker’s Alfred Mylne 65, Ruth, a local schooner, and a couple of working Brigantines – Tres Hombres and Fryderyk Chopin, glided gracefully up the west coast but the conditions took their toll and none managed to complete the course.
Event website: www.barbadossailingweek.com