As Saint Barth regattas go, the West Indies Regatta is perhaps the smallest but also the most charming. A fleet of traditional wooden sailboats competed in the fifth anniversary of this just-for-fun event on the weekend of May 2–5. Summer Cloud, from Antigua, dominated, winning all three races, with Zemi, also from Antigua, and Savvy, from Grenada, hot on their heels. With light winds, the races were laidback but competitive, with the Sunday picnic on the beach in Colombier an annual highlight.
The goal of this event is really not the racing but the concept of keeping traditional Caribbean boatbuilding skills alive. Organizer Alexis Andrews is a champion of these great little boats, both sloops and schooners, evoking the days of yore when they plied the waters of the Caribbean carrying goods from one island to another.
That aspect was brought to life again this year with an expanded Caribbean marketplace on the dock in Gustavia, with the boats sailing into port laden with merchandise. For example, Summer Cloud gathered organic produce from all over the island of Dominica and sailed through the night to arrive quietly and engineless at the dock just like the sloops and schooners used to do. The cargo was unloaded to the delight of the crowd on the dock: crates of organic fruits and vegetables, spices, soaps and essential oils, Carib arts and crafts, coffee, cocoa, flowers, and jelly nuts, even a fantastic new chocolate. “Captain Andrew of Summer Cloud takes his role of reconnecting the islands very seriously!” says Andrews.
Other produce and crafts from the islands included honey from Bequia; chocolate, paintings and bags from Grenada; coconut oil, mangos and wood carvings from St. Lucia, salt from Anguilla and specialty rum and coconuts from Antigua.
Sunday evening concluded the regatta. The market was in full swing, with an awards ceremony and live music and dancing to the sounds of the Romantics, a local band in which president Bruno Magras plays guitar. Sponsors of the West Indies Regatta include Club UNESCO of St. Barthélemy, Port de Gustavia and the Territorial Tourism Committee Office Tourism.
WEST INDIES REGATTA 2013:
Overall Winner – Summer Cloud
1st Traditional Class – Tradition
1st Schooner Class – Jambalaya
Sail the Furthest – Savvy
Most Creative Sail Configuration – Summer Wind
Most time Spent on the Water – Good Expectation
Greatest Effort Against All Odds – Exodus
Most Children on Board – Genesis
Ellen Lampert-Gréaux lives in Saint Barthélemy where she is editor-in-chief of Harbour Magazine.