Jason Tindale (right) with his young J/24 team collect 20 cases of Mount Gay Rum for breaking the Round the Island class record – photo Nigel Wallace

The Mount Gay Round Barbados Race Series, incorporating three days of coastal racing and the Mount Gay Rum Round Barbados Race concluded last night at a sumptuous, Mount Gay Rum-fuelled prizegiving dinner and party. The final 300-mile Ocean Race to Antigua to tie up with the Superyacht Cup starts on Saturday.

Organised by Barbados Cruising Club in association with Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc and Mount Gay, the success of the annual event, which launched the Caribbean race season last week, has endorsed its status as a Caribbean regatta favourite.

Overseas competitors, who this year made up a large part of the 36-strong fleet, represented 11 countries including a strong contingent from the UK, plus teams from New Zealand, the USA, Lithuania, Slovakia, France, Poland, Germany, Argentina and many neighbouring islands.

Although the winds throughout the series were generally lighter than expected, the sailing was spectacular with all five fleets enjoying four days of tactical racing.

The impressive standard of sailing in the nine-strong J/24 fleet helped to make the event extremely spectator-friendly. Most of the eight-race, closely fought J/24 Coastal Series took place in the beautiful setting of Carlisle Bay on windward/leeward courses.

It was also the first time the J/24 class had been granted fleet status in the Mount Gay Rum Round the Island Race. This created a lot of interest particularly when Jason Tindale and his young team crossed the line in third place and was the first skipper to establish a new record time of 09hrs, 06mins, 38secs. For this he won his own weight, as skipper, in Mount Gay Rum – all 21 cases of it. The team also won Round the Island CSA division.

Team_Conviction_rum presentation

Team Conviction, the successful young, local TP52 sailors celebrating at the prizegiving – photo Nigel Wallace.

The other two record-breakers in the Round the Island Race, who were also presented with copious bottles of rum last night, were Dave Staples on Hallucine (Pogo) who clinched the Double Handed Monohull record, and Paul Johnson the skipper of Conviction the local TP52 sailed by Clint Brooks and team representing the Barbados Offshore Sailing Syndicate (BOSS). They took the 60ft and Under Monohull record.

Robert Povey, the overall winning skipper of the J/24 Coastal Series sailing Hawkeye, said the racing was exceptionally tough throughout the regatta. “In the shifty winds, good crew work was crucial because one mistake and it was easy to find yourself at the back of the fleet. Carlisle Bay is a fantastic place to go sailing. I’ve done the Fireball and the 505 world championships here with 80-90 boats racing and it always gets such a lot of positive feedback. I think Barbados as a sailing venue is one the, if not the, most incredible places to go sailing in the world. I am hoping that next year we’ll be able to encourage more international J/24 fleets to participate, particularly teams from the USA, which is not too far away.”

The teams on British charter company yachts were on good form and finished the week with some impressive results including a CSA Racing division win for Lancelot II – the Britannia Corporate Beneteau First 40 charter yacht sailed by Chris Jackson and a team from Slovakia. The British Stormforce Coaching charter yacht Palpatine (Stimson 42) skippered by Doug Innes, and team, took line honours in the Round the Island Race and in doing so won the 50ft and Under class.

It was also refreshing to see a classic revival with the likes of Elena (A Class Racing Schooner, 55m), Tres Hombres (Brigantine 33m), and the locally built schooner Ruth (30.5m) who helped to restore the event’s tradition in the Round Barbados Race. Although Elena of London was the only one to complete the course and win the Classic division, the spectacle of the three racing classics gliding gracefully up the west coast was a sight to behold.


Mount Gay Rum – one of the the key ingredients at this successful regatta – photo Nigel Wallace.

Interest in the Mount Gay Rum Round Barbados Race is steadily building among big boat racing teams who are keen to challenge for the outright record. Although the record remains in the hands of Andy Budgen and team on the British VO70 Monster Project who set a record of 4 hours 42 minutes 28 seconds last year, it was good to see some serious challengers this year including Conviction (TP52), two VO60s Cuba Libre, and Ambersail, and a Farr 72 – Maximizer – chartered by the American Embassy in Bridgetown.

Local support from neighbouring islands is extremely important at this growing event so it was befitting that the highly contested CSA Cruising division in the Coastal Series went to the British Virgin Island-registered Beneteau Oceanis 473, Leonora, sailed by David Spieler after winning all three races.

One of the most competitive classes was the Non CSA division. Although Richard Inniss from the USA and his team on Other Business (Beneteau Idylle 51) scooped an overall win, local team on Mandy (Hunter 30) headed by Bruce Robinson, didn’t make their life easy. Robinson and team won the first race and constantly challenged for the lead throughout the series and finished just one point astern overall.

 If the concluding party at the exotic Beach House location last night was anything to go by, the Mount Gay Round Barbados Series has a bright future ahead. Hundreds turned up to celebrate with the prizewinners and also celebrate the huge success of the 2015 event.

William Griffith CEO of the Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc said the future of the event is assured. “This is mainly because it is ticking all the right boxes as a tourism product. This year we attracted more international competitors than any in previous years, so the Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc’s aim, which was to open the event to new markets, has already started take effect in a most significant way.”

Peter Gilkes – Consultant to the Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc for Yachting Development, who has been involved in the organisation of the event for many years, added: “The event has grown with each passing year and this has not gone unnoticed by those who are charged with making the decisions within the tourism arena. As part of our effort to continually improve, our plan to create new berthing arrangements in the Shallow Draft area so we can accommodate more visitors, up to 70 yachts. The event is starting to attract some of the best the world such as Elena of London, the 45 metre Destination, Monster Project a Volvo 70, two Volvo 60s Amber Sail and Cuba Libre, plus a TP 52 Conviction. As the event continues to grow at this top end of sailing therefore, our product can only get better with each year.”


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