Sailing is in the blood of accomplished racing and cruising yachtsman, Peter Hoad, whose family roots stretch back over 200-years in Barbados.
“On my father’s side they are all sailors. My grandfather was paid to race boats for the rich. He built his own boats and sails. All of my uncles and my father sail,” Hoad explains. “I started sailing at age six, bailing for my grandfather in his Star. I love sailing. It’s one of the most rewarding sports when racing, and on the other side, nothing can beat cruising. It’s hard to explain, but that peace that comes over you, when there is no land in sight and it’s all you, is amazing.”
Hoad has enjoyed sailing both as a vocation and recreation. He was 20-years-old when he landed a three-month contract to deliver a boat from Maryland to Miami. He didn’t return to the Caribbean for four years and it was during this time that he sailed from Rhode Island to the Bahamas and got the cruising bug. Prior to this, he was bitten by the racing bug.
Hoad represented Barbados in Sunfish and Toppers for six years, finishing second in Sunfish at the 1996 Caribbean Dinghy Championships and winning the Topper class in the Barbados Sailing Association regattas from 1995 to 1997. He then started racing with Ralph Johnson aboard his Beneteau First 10, Bruggadung, cleaning up on prizes and trophies all over the Windwards. Hoad’s prowess later saw him tapped by Mt. Gay to serve as helmsman for an all-girls sailing team.
It was back in 1999, during his dinghy racing days, that Hoad started teaching sailing, studying coaching and judging. He founded the Barbados Optimist Dinghy Association (BODA) with the mission of spreading the joy of sailing to kids. Six years later he bought his first J/24, Jabulani, and then a second, Paddington, in 2006.
“Jabulani was named by girlfriend at the time and is a South African word meaning happy and festive,” Hoad tells. “Paddington, named for the bear, was based in Carriacou and St. Lucia for a long time before making it home to Barbados.”
In 2006, Hoad started U-SAIL Barbados, a company that offers J/24s for rent, cruisers for hire and learn to sail classes. A year later, Hoad became one of the founding members of the Barbados J/24 Club.
“We are up to 16 J/24s now with talk of more coming,” Hoad says. “There are a series of 12 races during the year that add up to the ‘J/24 of the Year’ award. The two biggest regattas here in Barbados are the Mt. Gay Regatta and the Sail for Charity Regatta, both are held on the south coast along a boardwalk where there is great viewing for spectators.”
Hoad has won a number of regattas sailing his J/24s. Most recently, he tied for first in the J/24 Class at the 2009 Tobago Carnival Regatta, finished third in the single-handed Round the Island race at the 2010 Bequia Easter Regatta, and most spectacularly set the single-handed record of 9 hours, 49 minutes and 58 seconds in the 76th Mount Gay Rum Round Barbados Race in January.
Currently, Hoad is working as a charter captain for Tiami Catamaran Charters and training for the next Mt. Gay Rum Round Barbados Race. He also wants to complete a fundraising sail for cancer.
“The plan is to sail single-handed from Barbados round Grenada to starboard then St. Lucia to starboard and back to Barbados,” he explains.
Finally, many people know Hoad best by his nickname, ‘Wipers’. This he earned not sailing, but instead when racing cars.
“The wipers broke down and I jumped on the bonnet and wiped the windshield for the driver,” he says. “It’s stuck.”
Carol M. Bareuther, RD, is a St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands based marine writer and registered dietitian.