Bridgetown, Barbados (8 January, 2015): With just over a week until the start of 2015 Mount Gay Round Barbados Race Series (16-24 January), the party atmosphere on the beautiful Caribbean island of Barbados is beginning to heat up.
Organised by Barbados Cruising Club in association with Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc and Mount Gay, this event, which is now in its 79th year, promises to be one of the best yet with over 50 yachts expected to take part including over 20 overseas entries. For those keen to escape the European winter and head to the sun, there are also plenty of last minute individual charter crew places available. Click here to email for more information.
One of the big attractions for teams such as the British VO70 Monster Project are the record-breaking opportunities in the 60 nautical mile Mount Gay Round Barbados Race on Wednesday 21 January. There are currently 14 established records in this race, all of which offer the skipper’s weight in Mount Gay Extra Old Rum if broken.
The event is also seeing a classic revival with Elena (A Class Racing Schooner, 55m), Tres Hombres (Brigantine 33m), and the locally built Schooner Ruth (30.5m) hoping to maintain the event’s tradition, which saw the first race in 1936 based upon bragging rights for the fastest Trading Schooner round Barbados.
Competitors who rate the event among their favourites say that as well as the tradition, first class race organization, and the ultra friendly island atmosphere, it is the constant 12-18 knot east to east-north-east trade winds that act as a real draw.
Andy Budgen who’ll be there to defend Monster Project’s round the island record from last year, said: “This is the perfect Caribbean regatta for a charter VO70 like ours. We always have good, competitive racing and constant breezes are almost guaranteed. But most of all we have a lot of fun and really enjoy embracing the island spirit.”
The interesting range of entries include dinghy catamarans, the highly competitive J/24 fleet, a large contingent of cruiser-racers in the 38-50ft band, plus two VO60s – Cuba Libre (which still has charter spaces available) and Ambersail.
As well as the British VO70 Monster Project, and a Farr 72, Maximizer, which has been chartered by the American Embassy in Bridgetown, there’s a team of local hot-shots preparing to raise the game on their Botin Carkeek-designed TP52 – Conviction.
Marc Gentilin from the Barbados Offshore Sailing Syndicate (BOSS) that runs the TP52 Conviction project that promotes youth in sailing, says he and Clint Brooks, the skipper have great hopes for the team.
Gentilin commenting on the TP52 project said: “BOSS is the brain child of Clint Brooks. The idea is have a manageable, yet powerful Caribbean owned racing boat for charter. Having spent most of his life as a professional sailor Clint wanted to share his love of sailing big powerful boats with those that wouldn't otherwise have that opportunity. BOSS believes that promoting youth in sailing and in general is essential to the future of our sport the world over, but locally most specifically.”
Chatting about record-breaking prospects, Gentilin added: “The combination of a fast boat and smart team on board means we believe we can, at the very least break the monohull 60 foot and under record as well as having a great chance at taking the series overall win. With the right weather conditions, the team we have put together and the boat also have a chance at taking the outright monohull record.”
After racing each day competitors and visitors to the event can enjoy the Mount Gay Rum fine Caribbean hospitality that will be in full flow. There’ll also be a party every night including the legendary Mount Gay Red Cap party and the final grand prizegiving party at the Beach House. Lay day activities include a Barbados Polo Club exhibition match, and a visit to Mount Gay Distilleries in Brandon.
About the Mount Gay Round Barbados Race Series
The first recorded race round Barbados was in 1936 when five trading schooners (Sea Fox, Mona Marie, Marion B Wolfe, Lucille Smith and Rhode Island) took up the challenge. Sea Fox (Captain Lou Kenedy) was the overall winner with a time of 10 hours 20 minutes.
The original race was based upon bragging rights for the fastest Trading Schooner. In an era where prices for cargo arriving ahead of rival ships commanded a massive premium, this was a lucrative race for captains.
The consolation prize of a barrel of Mount Gay Rum for the slowest yacht was discontinued several years later following the discovery that some competitors purposely stalled and remained out at sea for days to ensure they won the prize.
In 2012 The Mount Gay Round Barbados Race expanded to incorporate the Two Restaurants Race, which meant racing took place over two days. The idea proved such a success, it was decided to expand the event further in 2014, in line with most other Caribbean regattas, and run a series of coastal, round-the-buoy races including the Two Restaurants Race, and The Mount Gay Round Barbados Race. The 300-mile Ocean Race from Barbados to Antigua at the end of the regatta was specifically designed to tie in with the start of the Superyacht Challenge in Antigua.