Big boats prepare for round Barbados blast – photo Peter Marshall.

The arrival of the first overseas yachts into Bridgetown, including British VO70 Monster Project marks the start of the countdown of the 2015 Mount Gay Round Barbados Race Series, which is taking place from 16-24 January.

This event, which kick starts the Caribbean race season, is proving to be a huge attraction for overseas entries with over 20 already signed and more than 50 boats expected overall.

One of the biggest draws is the Mount Gay Round Barbados Race (21 January) – a 60 nautical mile ocean race round the island. 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 current outright monohull round Barbados record holders with a time of 4 hours 42 minutes 28 seconds are Raphaël Grisoni and his Mount Gay team aboard Monster Project.

The Mount Gay Round Barbados Race Coastal Race Series is held from 17-19 January with three coastal races per day for the highly competitive J/24 fleet and one race per day for all other classes.

Although it is not part of the series, a final 300-mile Ocean Race to Antigua, specially laid on to tie up with the Superyacht Challenge, starts at 1000 on Saturday 24 January.

The re-launch of the regatta in 2014, with its new race format and record-breaking opportunities, proved such a success that Barbados Cruising Club – the organisers who run the regatta in association with Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc and Mount Gay – say the event is now one of the island’s biggest attractions.

Alene Krimholtz, the Event Manager commented: “We are delighted this is now not only a big island attraction, but it is also one of the key regattas on the international big boat racing circuit. One of the main incentives, other than the warm Caribbean waters, miles of gold sandy beaches, and constant 12-18 knot east to east-north-east trade winds, is the opportunity to break records in the 60-mile Mount Gay Round Barbados Race.”

The J/24 fleet, which uses the regatta as one of the stages in its Barbados Championship series, is expected to muster at least 12 boats. The class has also been granted fleet status for the Mount Gay Round Barbados Race after Glory Daze, the sole J/24, set a new record in 2014. The winning J/24 breaking this record in 2015 will win their skipper’s weight in rum. .

Charles Hunte, who set a new windsurfer record round the island in 2014 with a time of 7 hours, 59 minutes 10 seconds in 2014 is hoping for more competition this year. “It would be good to see some more boards on the course but I will be there whatever happens. I have been making plenty of plans for the race in 2015 including obtaining a new Starboard 377 Bat Wing course board, which I will use with a Neil Pryde 8.7 metre H2 no matter what the wind.”

Others lined up to compete in the post Christmas event include two VO60s – Cuba Libre and Ambersail – both of which have places available for charter. There is also a Farr 72, Maximizer, which has been chartered by the American Embassy in Bridgetown, plus a local TP52 – Conviction, and the 55m classic racing schooner – Elena.

One of the most interesting entries is the recently launched 33m schooner Ruth. The design of this vessel – which took 10 years to build locally, on the beach in Carlisle Bay – is based on the Canadian grand banks schooner Bluenose. The idea is for her to be used as a cargo ship on historic Caribbean regional trading routes using wind and solar electrical systems to minimise her carbon footprint. She will also provide sail training opportunities for 18-25 year olds.

Mount Gay Rum fine Caribbean hospitality will be in full flow throughout the week with 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.


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