Mount Gay Rum Round Barbados Race 2015

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Elena of London – photo Peter Marshall.

Despite generally light airs with winds reaching no more that 15kts, three teams have won their skipper’s weight in rum for breaking records in the 79th Mount Gay Rum Round Barbados Race.

The Double Handed Monohull record for the 60-nautical mile course went to Dave Staples on Hallucine (Pogo) with a time of 07:29:51. Staples, who chartered the boat especially for the event, has now beaten his own previous record.

Conviction the local TP52 sailed by Paul Johnson, Clint Brooks and team representing the Barbados Offshore Sailing Syndicate (BOSS) took the 60ft and Under Monohull record with a time of 06:07:06, while the well-sailed One Design J/24 record went to Jason Tindale and his young local team on College Funds.

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Team College Funds broke the J/24 record – photo Sue Pelling.

Team College Funds skippered by Laser sailor Jason Tindale were noted for their impressive performance. They managed to break through to the lead the fleet at North Point by sailing closer to the shore, and finished third over the line. They also broke the J/24 record with a time of 9hrs, 06mins, 38secs.

Tindale commenting on the team’s performance said: “We had a fantastic day and are delighted to have done so well. It didn’t look good at the start in just 4kts of breeze. It took an hour to sail two-and-a-half nautical miles. Thankfully the breeze filled up to 14kts and the crew worked well to get everything together.

“A good tactical manoeuvre at North point by sailing further inshore gave us an advantage over a couple of boats who sailed out further. It is always a bit rough the Point and today was no exception. It was lumpy and very uncomfortable in the J/24 but we made it. We had a bit of tough time steering down the top part of the east coast with the kite up for four hours but once we were round East Point the situation improved and it was a fun ride home.”

Palpatine, the British Stormforce Coaching charter yacht (Stimson 42) skippered by Doug Innes, and team, took line honours completing the 60-nautical mile course in 07hrs, 43mins, 57secs. They sailed well in the light airs at the start and managed to retain their position at the top end of the of the fleet after their 0830 start.

They did however, struggle to make any impact on the two, well sailed J/24s – College Funds and Glory Daze – who led the fleet for almost two thirds of the race. Innes and team eventually managed jiggle through into the leading position just before East Point and led the fleet for the remaining 20 miles to the finish line.

Innis chatting after the finish, said: “We are thrilled to have crossed the finish line first. It is a great achievement for me, and the British team who are all here on individual charters. It was a great race, despite the light winds at the start but we had good sail up the west coast and flew a spinnaker, close, for most of it.”

Although the lack of record-breaking opportunities on the in 60-nautical mile Mount Gay Rum Round Barbados course proved disappointing for many in the 35-strong fleet, the race was a huge success, with most competitors regarding it as one of the best to date.

Peter Lewis on his J/105 Whistler who won the 35ft and Under, and the CSA divisions said he couldn’t have asked for a better day. “It was an excellent race and despite the generally light airs it was a beautiful day for sailing and one of the best on record. We were a bit concerned the big boats would swamp us towards the end, but thankfully we were far enough ahead.”

Steve McLaren’s 55m Elena of London (A Class Racing Schooner), the recently-launched and locally built Ruth (30.5m schooner), and Tres Hombres (33m Brigantine) looked stunning as they headed glided gracefully up the west coast in the light airs. Ruth and Tres Hombres struggled to round North Point however, and retired, while Elena, with her huge sail aloft, blasted all the way down the east coast. Although she was unable to break the record she set in 2011 she did managed to achieve wins in both the Unlimited and Classic divisions.

Andy Budgen and team on the British VO70 Monster Project who last year blasted round the island and set a new outright monohull round Barbados record with a time of 4 hours 42 minutes 28 seconds, were unable to repeat/better their performance this year. They came in just under an hour behind the record but were still able to claim the overall win of the 80ft and Under division.

Because the event traditionally takes place on a public holiday to celebrate Errol Barrow Day, and is the headline event at the annual Mount Gay Round Barbados Race Series, it was no surprise that this important sporting event attracted crowds of spectators.

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Serious spectating at North Point – photo Stan Armstrong.

Locals and holidaymakers, not only headed to the south of the island to the beach area at Barbados Cruising Club to relax in the sun and watch the start and finish, but also followed the race by car, stopping off at key vantage points round the coast, including the North Point, the most challenging part of the race.

The Mount Gay Round Barbados Race Series gala prizegiving party and dinner to mark the end of the 2015 event, takes place tomorrow evening at the Beach House along the west coast of the island.

Mount Gay Rum Round Barbados Race preparations

After three days of intense Coastal racing in the Mount Gay Round Barbados Race Series, many sailing teams were keen to make the most of today’s lay day activities.

Photo – Peter Marshall

Mount Gay Rum tasting – photo – Peter Marshall

A visit to the Mount Gay Rum Distillery in the morning, and an afternoon soaking up the colonial-style hospitality at an exhibition polo match at Holders Polo Field provided plenty of relaxation in preparation for the Mount Gay Rum Round Barbados Race tomorrow.

This headline event , which traditionally takes place on a public holiday to celebrate Errol Barrow Day (the birthday of the first Prime Minister of Barbados, and ‘father of independence) is one of the key attractions of the annual Mount Gay Round Barbados Race Series.

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Polo at Holders – photo Peter Marshall.

The 60-mile sprint clock-wise round Barbados has sparked a lot of interest with many teams keen to have a serious attempt at the outright record. The forecast however, is unusually light winds, which could affect the chances.

John Coveney the event’s Principal Race Officer, commenting on the conditions said: “It looks as though the conditions will remain fluky, similar to what we’ve experienced over the last few days, which is quite unusual for this time of year. It will be a generally light one with the current forecast showing winds no more than 12kts, which is not looking good for record-breaking opportunities.”

There are some real serious contenders within the 33-strong fleet this year including Andy Budgen and team on the British VO70 Monster Project who are here to defend the outright monohull round Barbados record they set last year with a time of 4 hours 42 minutes 28 seconds.

Joining the VO70 are two VO60s Cuba Libre, and Ambersail, a Farr 72 – Maximizer – chartered by the American Embassy in Bridgetown, plus Conviction the local TP52 sailed by Paul Johnson, Clint Brooks and team representing the Barbados Offshore Sailing Syndicate (BOSS), a local project that promotes youth in sailing.

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Elena – photo – Peter Marshall

One of the most graceful yachts on the start line will be the 55m classic racing schooner – Elena of London– skippered by Steve McLaren and his 18-strong team. Elena is the current Classic division record-holder with a time of 6 hours, 11 minutes, 19 seconds set in 2011.

Chatting about the ideal conditions for a boat of this type, Malcolm Banks, crew boss, said: “For us to have any chance of breaking our own record we need 18kts or more, which means we have to make a VMG of 9kts. We are hopeful but the majority of the weather forecast for this area are generally indicating light airs.”

Raimundas Daubaras, skipper of Ambersail one of the two VO60s, and his Lithuanian team, said that the Mount Gay Rum Round the Island Race is one of the key reasons they are at the regatta. They too are looking for a decent breeze.

Daubaras said: “This event has a lot of history and is famous for that so we are pleased to be here. We are really keen to see how she performs against the other VO60. We do have a chance of breaking a record but it entirely depends on the wind conditions. Ideally to be in with any sort of chance we are looking for 20kts or more. Sadly, the wind forecast is not looking good for us. Whatever happens we’ll enjoy it, and we plan to be back next year.”

Cuba Libre the charter VO60 arrived in the Caribbean with the Atlantic Rally for Cruisers (ARC) fleet last year. Benedikt Clauberg skipper, said: “This is the first big event in the Caribbean season and we are very much looking forward to the big race tomorrow. For us it is the key event and the reason we are here.

“We have a mixed charter crew for the race, a new combination sailing together but we are used to that so. We have a full sail wardrobe but depending on the ability of the crew we will make a decisions as to what we’ll use tomorrow. Although the aim is to achieve a good result, our priority is safety, then fun. I find that once the team starts to have fun, the competitive spirit increases.”

With over 30 yachts taking part, there’ll be staggered starts from a committee boat line just off the Barbados Cruising Club commencing with the slowest boats at 0700. This means there’ll be plenty of opportunity to view the action from the beach.

The course will take the fleet clockwise round the island and the predicted time at North Point is between 1000 and 1400. The most testing conditions are likely to be on the rugged east side of the island where there is big swell. Although it entirely depends on the weather, the yachts should start to cross the finish line at 1500.

Mount Gay Round Barbados Race Series day 3 – Winning teams celebrate successful coastal series

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Team Hawkeye, overall winners of the J/24 fleet – photo Peter Marshall

The concluding races the Mount Gay Round Barbados Race Coastal Series took place today. Although the conditions were unusually light and fluky, the racing was intense in all classes with most fighting it out for overall honours right to the bitter end.

The only exception was the J/24 class, which saw Robert Povey and his local hotshot team on Hawkeye walk away with the winning title with a race to spare.

Interestingly, Team Hawkeye who went into the final day’s racing with an impressive 1,1,1,2,2,2 scoreline had a disastrous day. They were slow off the start at the pin-end in the first race, and found themselves stuck on the wrong side of the beat. They ended that race in eighth place, while Neil Burke and team on Republic Bank Impulse, pulled through early leaders, Robbie Yearwood and team on Die Hard, to finish first. Die Hard was second.

The start of the second J/24 race of the day, in extremely light airs, produced the first individual recalls of the series, one of which was Hawkeye. She retired while the rest of the fleet struggled round the course. The race to decide second overall became intense but it was the team on College Funds who managed to sail well in the light airs to score their second win of the series.

Chatting about his overall win and the change of tempo in today’s racing, Povey commented: “We are absolutely delighted, particularly at not having to sail the last race, which turned out to be long and windless. In the first race we had a poor start and decided to head right where we thought the pressure would come in. Everyone who went left was on a headed course and was also in down pressure. We thought we had made a great decision but those on the inside got a huge left shift. It was a gamble and we lost and there were no real passing lanes from there on. We also softened the rig in that race but we couldn’t point so well, which didn’t help matters.”

The remaining classes were sent on the same course, which took them once round Carlisle Bay and then on a long leg to Oistins along the south coast of the island. Many struggled in the light airs in the Bay but thankfully there was more pressure on the south coast and all fleets managed to complete the course within the time limit.

In CSA Racing Conviction – the local TP52 – sailed by Paul Johnson, Clint Brooks and team representing the Barbados Offshore Sailing Syndicate (BOSS), executed an impressive port-tack start and comfortably crossed the fleet and picked up a favourable shift on the approach to the windward mark. They had a three-and-a-half minute lead at the first mark but unfortunately for Team Conviction, they managed to find windless hole on the leg out to sea and watched the fleet sail past, which didn’t help their cause. They eventually finished second to Lancelot II – from Southampton, the Britannia Corporate Beneteau First 40 charter yacht sailed by Chris Jackson and a team from Slovakia.

This team was also on form right from the start and managed to pull off another win to add to already impressive scoreline. They beat the TP52 by just one point to win the CSA Racing division. A delighted Jackson commenting on his win said: “It all came down to whoever won today, won overall, so we are delighted, particularly as we had a terrible start. We were late, and at the wrong end of the line, then had a poor beat. Luckily for us the wind died at the mark and then came in from the east just as we hoisted our kite.

“Then on the south coast we gained a lot by taking the shifts inshore, and that was probably the biggest turning point in the race for us.”

Going into today’s final race David Spieler and team on Leonora (Beneteau Oceanis 473) had the CSA Cruising class win sewn up but they were keen to repeat their winning performance once again and enjoy the long south coast race. Although there were only three in the class, the racing has been intense every day with Mike Krimholtz and team on Dragon Magic (Dufour), and Ian Hickling on Ten Seven (Catalina) each challenging for second place. Dragon Magic finished second again to secure second overall.

With just a few points between the six boats going into the final race, competition in the Non-CSA class was destined to be close today. Richard Inniss and team on Other Business (Beneteau Idylle 51) and Bruce Robinson’s Mandy (Hunter 30) were each on 14pts, while Jonathan and Tara Gittens on Shangri’La (Morgan 41) were lying third with 15pts. Like all classes, they suffered in the light airs at the start but Inniss and his team on Other Business read the fluky winds well and took another race win, which was enough to win the class overall. Mandy was second, and second overall.

The jubilant winner of the multihull/mixed dinghy/windsurfer fleet today was Andy Budgen on his foiling International Moth – Nano Project. Budgen who hadn’t managed to finish a race until today, reveled in the light airs and within minutes of the start was halfway up the beat. Needless to say, he maintained control/speed and managed to beat Bryn Palmer on the RC30 – Silver Bullet.

The overall winner of the fleet however, was the consistent Danny Paraviccino and his three-man team on Buccaroo (Stiletto) who scored a first and two thirds. Charles Hunte, the lone windsurfer, retired today, but did enough to secure second overall in the series. Paraviccino commenting on his win, said: “It is fantastic to have won particularly as we spent about half an hour in a hole not going anywhere at one stage, then another half an hour at a standstill just before the finish so to finish third today day was great.”

After three days of challenging racing and lay day tomorrow, crews are making the most of the local hospitality tonight at both Barbados Cruising Club and Barbados Yacht Club. Lay day activities tomorrow include a Mount Gay Rum distillery tour at Brandons in the morning, and a specially laid on regatta exhibition polo match and party at Holders Polo Field, St James in the afternoon.

Full results: https://app.regattaguru.com/bcc/100086/results

Mount Gay Round Barbados Race Series day 2 – Leading contenders begin to emerge with one day to go

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Andy Budgen on his foiling International Moth comes to grief after luffing up at the start – photo Peter Marshall.

After two days of racing in the Mount Gay Round Barbados Race Coastal Series, leading contenders for the overall honours are beginning to emerge.

Racing for most classes began with a circuit of Carlisle Bay before heading on an eight-mile leg up the west coast and then out south. Although the wind was lighter, it was shifty, which meant the emphasis was on good tactics and impeccable team work.

The J/24 fleet always produces surprises and today was no exception. Team Shakin with Peter Armstrong at the helm had a repeat performance of yesterday’s first race when they led off the start. Today however, they sailed consistently well in the first race with a good start and first beat, and led the race from the top mark to the finish.

Chatting about the team’s performance, Armstrong said: “We learnt a lesson from yesterday so today we covered the fleet and finished with a comfortable lead. This is all good for us because we are usually at the other end of the fleet. Our secret weapon is our new tactician – Kwame Hinds – who is also our coach. We also have new North sails, so we have everything going for us. We are really pleased with our performance because we have seen a massive improvement.”

Raphael Grisoni and his Bunga Bunga team won the second race of the day, while the young team on College Funds won the third. With three seconds from today to add to yesterday’s three firsts, however, Robert Povey and team on Hawkeye remain at the top of the rankings with just two races remaining.

The big boat CSA Racing class enjoyed a good course with a long tight reach, which for many was too shy to fly a kite. Conviction – the local TP52 – sailed by Paul Johnson, Clint Brooks and team representing the Barbados Offshore Sailing Syndicate (BOSS), a local project that promotes youth in sailing, were on form today and managed to bag their first ever regatta win. They are now lying in joint first place with the charter boat Lancelot II – Chris Jackson’s Slovakian team – who won the opening race yesterday.

Brooks said: “We made few tweaks with the boat and the rig today. That combined with the shorter course and the team’s extra hard work we managed a great performance. As yesterday was our first ever day of competition we did make a mistake or two – but we all learned from that.”

Their closest rivals today were the Lithuanian team on the VO60 Ambersail who finished second on corrected time. Raimundas Daubaras and his team, who arrived with their boat in Barbados last week, have soon slotted into race mode and will be looking to repeat or improve their performance tomorrow, in preparation for Wednesday’s Mount Gay Rum Round Barbados Race.

Racing was close once again in CSA Cruising class between Mike Krimholtz and team on Dragon Magic (Dufour), David Spieler on Leonora (Beneteau Oceanis 473), and Ian Hickling on Ten Seven (Catalina). The team on Leonora however, sailed extremely well once again and today managed to pull out their second win of the series.

Team Leonora is now almost unbeatable will be out again tomorrow racing hard. Spieler chatting this afternoon, said: “ We are thrilled to have scored two firsts in this regatta. The team worked hard and the conditions out there today were magical. We particularly enjoyed heading out to sea to Mark 5. It was awesome out there, and we all felt on top of the world. Although we have the series virtually sewn up, we’ll be sailing the best we can gain tomorrow because it is so enjoyable.”

The well-supported Non-CSA class enjoyed close, exciting racing once again. Richard Inniss and team on Other Business (Beneteau Idylle 51), who finished third yesterday, took a well-deserved win today, which puts them on equal points at the top of the fleet with Bruce Robinson’s Mandy (Hunter 30).

One of the biggest attractions/distractions out on the racecourse pre-start this week is the Andy Budgen’s International Moth – Nano Project. Budgen who is in Barbados to defend the Round Barbados record on the VO70 Monster Project on Wednesday, had is Mach 2 foiling Moth shipped out from the UK last week and is racing within the Multihull/Windsurfer class. So far he has yet to finish a race but he has provided plenty of entertainment on the water.

This class has produced joint leaders. Buccaroo (Stiletto) sailed by Danny Paraviccino now has a third and a win in today’s race, while Charles Hunt, the sole windsurfer, has a first place from yesterday and a third today, leaving them both with four points. After having to retire yesterday with boat damage, Bryn Palmer and team on Silver Bullet (RC30) were on form today, and took second place, which leaves them third overall.

Tomorrow’s forecast shows similar conditions with a maximum of 14-15kts from the east-north-east. It will however, remain shifty.

Back on shore, the Bajan party scene is bigger than ever with crews heading to the stylish Drift Ocean Terrace Lounge at Holetown tonight for live music, and then back to Barbados Yacht Club on Monday night for more fine local hospitality.

Mount Gay Round Barbados Race Series 2015 – Racing underway in classic Caribbean conditions

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Close racing in the J/24 fleet – photo Peter Marshall.

Competitors were treated stunning conditions on the opening day of the Mount Gay Round Barbados Race Series 2015 with winds up to 20kts generally from the east-north east, and big rolling waves.

This regatta, which runs until 24 January is organised by Barbados Cruising Club in association with Barbados Tourism Marketing Incorporated, and Mount Gay. It is the first regatta of the Caribbean race season and is fast becoming a favourite with both cruising and racing sailors looking for good, competitive, fun racing in consistent breezes.

Class racing in the J/24 fleet today was closer than ever with the locals demonstrating their impressive racing skills throughout the day. Three relatively short windward/leeward races, which kept the fleet extremely close, were held in Carlisle Bay and Robert Povey and team on Hawkeye won all three races in extremely tough, shifty conditions.

An interesting start to the first J/24 race saw Peter Armstrong and team on Shakin take a flyer off to the right-hand side of the course and lead the fleet round the windward mark after picking up a favourable lift. They sailed well and maintained their position until the second beat but were unable to hold off Team Hawkeye and eventually had to settle for eighth in that race, and overall.

Povey, who won the regatta in 2013, and finished third last year knows only too well how tough it is to win this event. Chatting after the racing, Povey commented: “To get three first in such a competitive fleet was very tough particularly in the shifty winds. It was definitely not a day to bang the corners. Succeeding today came down to quick decisions and good crew work and I think our results proved we did a good job.”

Another impressive team was College Funds sailed by Jason Tindale and team who finished the day with a consistent scoring of 2,3,3. Tindale is a young, talented Laser sailor who knows the conditions well, which means he is likely to remain at the top of the fleet over the next few days.

One of smartest, chic-looking boats on the water today was the local TP52 Conviction sailed by Paul Johnson, Clint Brooks and team representing the Barbados Offshore Sailing Syndicate (BOSS), a local project that promotes youth in sailing. This well turned out team worked hard within CSA Racing class and, although they could manage no more than fourth today, they were exceptionally pleased with their performance.

Clint Brooks skipper of Conviction said: “Today was all about confidence building and practice for our young team. The youngest member of the team is just 13 years old, and they have all progressed from the local dinghy programme. The idea is to use the three days of coastal racing to really prepare for the Mount Gay Rum Round the Island Race on Wednesday. As the skipper I am extremely pleased with today’s performance because it was the young team’s first real, big regatta.”

Had there been a prize for perseverance, Peter Lewis and team on Whistler (J/105) would have snapped it up for managing to hold the spinnaker for the entire eight-nautical mile west coast leg on an extremely tight reach. Although they had to settle for second overall in CSA Racing class, they were delighted with their performance.

Lewis celebrating the team’s success at the Mount Gay Rum Red Cap party at Barbados Yacht Club tonight, said: “We managed it because we had a very flat spinnaker and the wind was in the right position, and the team sailed the boat well, so it was easy. We actually gybed it round the mark and brought it most of the way back too.”

The winner of CSA Racing however was the British charter Beneteau First 40 – Lancelot II from Southampton, sailed by Chris Jackson and a team from Slovakia. Commenting as he stepped ashore Jackson, tactician, said: “Great day, but tricky and the crew really worked hard which is why we did so well. Thankfully they all speak English so communication is good.”

The CSA Cruising class with just three boats produced some close fought competition today. After a short windward/leeward in Carlisle Bay, the course took the fleet along the west coast, which gave Mike Krimholtz’s and his team on Dragon Magic (Dufour) and David Spieler’s Leonora (Beneteau Oceanis 473) time to engage in a good battle. Team Leonora eventually took the first race win but Krimholtz and the Dragon Magic team are planning to be on form in the morning to challenge for the top spot.

Non-CSA class is well supported with a total of eight boats battling it out. Today the fleet, like most of the other classes, enjoyed a west coast course but for most, the leg was just too shy to fly a kite. Mandy (Hunter 30) sailed by Bruce Robinson and team from Barbados, managed to achieve a first race win leaving fellow Barbadian, Jonathan Gittens and his team on Shangri’La (Morgan 41) in second place overall.

The multihull/mixed dinghy/windsurfer fleet was won by local windsurfing hot-shot Charles Hunt who managed to keep the Hobie 21 Buccaroo Too, sailed by Thomas Atwell, at bay.

Tomorrow’s forecast shows similar conditions although the pressure is likely to build on the south coast and this, combined with a 2kt current, means for classes such as the J/24s the racing will be challenging.

Mount Gay Round Barbados Race Series 2015 – Last minute dash for tomorrow’s start

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Well supported skippers’ briefing on the eve of the first race – photo Peter Marshall.

With teams continuing to arrive all day in time for the start of Mount Gay Round Barbados Race Series tomorrow, the Bajan party scene kicked off early this evening with a steel band and Mount Gay rum in full flow at the exotic beach location of Barbados Cruising Club.

Organised by Barbados Cruising Club in association with Barbados Tourism Marketing Incorporated, and Mount Gay, this event encompasses the already established Mount Gay Round Barbados Race plus a series of coastal races, and a final 300-mile sprint to Antigua starting on 24 January – to link up with the Superyacht Challenge.

The well-supported skippers’ briefing, held earlier in the evening, gave a good indication of the sort of series the race team has lined for the week. The aim, from the feedback received from the successful 2014 event, was to make subtle improvements. According to the race team, which includes Howard Palmer (Chairman of the Race Committee), Pat Bailey (Chief Judge), and John Coveney (Principal Race Officer), that is exactly what has happened.

Coveney said: “We are always keen to listen to what competitors have to say, so a lot of thought has been put into trying to make the courses more competitive. This has led to the possibility of the J/24 fleet having up to seven races, with a discard after four. And using the Trader Bank mark to the south of the course, will offer challenging beats for all classes concerned. As a team, we are looking forward getting the racing underway tomorrow, and running a successful, challenging and enjoyable event for all.”

One of the event’s main attractions for some of the big boats in particular is the 60-nautical mile Mount Gay Round Barbados Race on 21 January, in which there are 14 established records to be challenged, all of which offer the skipper’s weight in Mount Gay Extra Old Rum if broken.

Naturally the British VO70 Monster Project, which set a new absolute record in 2014 with a time of 4 hours 42 minutes 28 seconds, is at the event to defend her title again this year, and hopefully beat her own time. There are however, some keen challengers including the local TP52 Conviction, and a couple of VO60s – Cuba Libre (which still has charter spaces available) and Ambersail from Lithuania.

Tomorrow’s forecast is for sun, sun and more sun, with good, consistent east north-east trade wind conditions between 11-15 knots. Looking ahead to the Round the Island Race next week it looks as though there could be a big shift to the north. Clint Brooks skipper of Conviction (TP52) says he is keeping his fingers crossed. “We are hoping for a decent northerly shift on Wednesday with a maximum of 18kts. It would be good for us, and would change the timings of arrivals at the finish hugely.”

All racing tomorrow will generally take place up west coast, with the first race for J/24s in Carlisle Bay off Bridgetown, starting at 1000. The starts for the rest of the fleets including Multihulls, Racing Class, Cruising Class and non-CSA Rated yachts commence at 1110.

Back on shore tomorrow, after a day of intense coastal racing, the warm Bajan hospitality continues with the ultimate Mount Gay Rum Red Cap party at Barbados Yacht Club, just a short stroll along the beach from Barbados Cruising Club.

Mount Gay Round Barbados Race Series 2015 – Island prepares for opening race next week

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Team Ambersail – photo Peter Marshall

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.

To benefit from the Mount Gay Round Barbados Race early bird entry discount, which closes on 14 January 2015, go to the event website.