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SPOTLIGHT Caribbean Regatta Preview for January to March 2012

Sailors from around the world come to the Caribbean each winter for warm temperatures, dependable trade winds and some of the most fun and competitive regattas. Here’s a preview of what’s new:


January 21: Mt. Gay Rum Round Barbados Race. One goal: to break round-the-island records and go down in history! Classes include monohulls (three classes by length), multihulls; classics, single-handed and double-handed. Regatta Village parties in Bridgetown’s Independence Square.

January 27-29: Superyacht Cup Antigua. Eighty-plus-foot yachts race ‘bucket-style’ off Antigua’s south coast with parties nightly in Nelson’s Dockyard. “We expect 12 entries,” says organizer, Paul Deeth. Organized by the Superyacht Cup team from Palma, Mallorca, yachts not taking part in the friendly ‘Cook off’ competition will lose a point this year!

January 27-31: Grenada Sailing Festival 2012 – Camper & Nicholsons Racing Series. Top-quality racing provides a great tune-up for the Caribbean’s race season ahead. Entries include Charisma, a 57-foot classic racing sloop; IDEA, a Reichel Pugh 78; and the UK’s race charter GirlsForSail’s Elan 37, Diamonds Are Forever. Racing continues the next weekend (February 4th and 5th) with the Work Boat Regatta and the Junior Dinghy Sailing Championship on Grand Anse Beach.


February 7-12: Casa de Campo Sailing Week. Over 40 yachts from the Caribbean, US, Europe and South America will race in this now week-long regatta. Professional juries and race officers combined with challenging courses along the Dominican Republic’s south coast and small offshore islands, make this a ‘must-do’ regatta. “We will also welcome the first Hispanidad Mona Passage, a feeder regatta that will depart from Ponce, Puerto Rico, on January 28th to Marina Casa de Campo,” says organizer, Rafid Ynirio.

February 10-12: TTSA Trinidad Carnival Regatta. Every participant gets a taste of Carnival at this four-day regatta sailed out of TTSA’s superb marine facilities in Chaguaramas. In addition to race boats, says organizer Simone Brown, “we are also targeting cruising and charter sailboats. The re-opening of The Moorings charter facility in Grenada provides a good opportunity for the charterer and casual racer to come and enjoy Trinidad and Tobago.” 

February 17-19: Sweethearts of the Caribbean & Classic Yacht Regatta. Possibly the Caribbean’s only Schooner race! What makes this West End Yacht Club (WEYC) of Tortola event special, says organizer Mike Kirk, “is the alfresco spirit combined with the always unexpected turnout and parties that we have at our Fungattas.” Jolly Roger hosts the post-race party. Everybody wins a prize. Contact: Commodore Martin van Houten:

February 20: Caribbean 600 Race. IRC- and CSA-rated yachts and multihulls are welcome in this 11 island, 600 mile circumnavigation that starts from English Harbor, Antigua. Over 30 yachts, swift-sailing maxis, TPs, Swans and superyachts will compete. Live tracking via Yellowbrick.

February 24-25: Around St. Maarten/St. Martin Multihull Regatta. Over 25 multihulls-only set sail in this 3rd annual event. “It is laid back and beach style although the racing will be fierce with at least seven Formula 18 beach cats in a one-design class expected on the start line set  close to shore so spectators can watch,” says organizer Mirian Ebbers.

February 23-26: South Grenada Regatta. Match Race! Eighteen teams will race identical boats (Sunsail 39s or 41s) in Clarkes Court Bay in two round-robins and Finals on February 24th. Two days of fleet racing follow. Held out of Le Phare Bleu Marina, organizer Lynn Fletcher says “two of the races finish in the Bay so everyone can enjoy seeing the sailing action.”


February 28-4: St. Maarten Heineken Regatta. The Budget Marine Match Racing Cup on February 28th and Gill Commodores Cup on March 1st kick off the racing, followed by the main three-day event which features a unique combination of professional racing, signature parties and star-studded concerts. “With over 32 countries represented by the participants this event has become the largest International regatta in the Caribbean,” says organizer, Heather Tackling.

March 9-11: St. Croix International Regatta. New dates, more distance racing and the new ‘Island Challenge’ mark this 20th anniversary event. “Off-island racers reporting the fastest passage from their island to St. Croix on corrected time will receive a refund of their registration fees,” says organizer Kiomie Pedrini.

March 9-12: Dark & Stormy Regatta. Race from Beef Island to Anegada and back. “This year’s race marks the climax of our four-race series for the Gosling Cup sponsored by TICO and Goslings,” says WEYC’s Mike Kirk. Contact: Commodore Martin van Houten:

March 16-18: Puerto Rico Heineken International Regatta. Exceptional facilities at Palmas del Mar Resort, race courses that challenge sailors of all ages, one of the best Race Management programs in the Caribbean and great nightly parties highlight this regatta. “There will be hot racing in beach cats this year, plus a new ‘overall’ prize for the combined J/24 and IC24 classes where the skipper wins his or her weight in Heineken,” says organizer, Angel Ayala.

March 22-25: St. Barth’s Bucket Regatta. Over 40 of the latest superyacht designs and true classics have accepted invitations to race. New, says organizer Peter Craig, “Four J Boat classics will be featured in a race within the race, as they vie for over all Bucket honors as well as J Boat bragging rights. Endeavour, Hanuman, Ranger and Velsheda will be part of a spectacular fleet that will race around the beautiful island of St Barthélemy.”

March 23-25: 39th International Rolex Regatta. You don’t need to BYOB (bring-your-own-boat) to race. “We can help secure your fully capable ride,” says organizer, John Sweeney, “where you’ll be tested over three days with multiple starts on three separate, picturesque race areas against high-caliber IRC machines like the STP65 Equation (formerly Rosebud), IRC 52 Vesper, and GS 46 Antilope and the CSA cruisers such as the J/36 Cayennita Grande or the J/122 Lost Horizon.

March 26-April 1: BVI Spring Regatta & Sailing Festival. A number of last year’s 40th anniversary initiatives will continue to make this regatta great for the next 40, including the Gill BVI Match Race Championship, March 28th – 29th. “Our relationship with the Chicago Match Racing Center has provided us with an experienced race committee to ensure the match racing is run in top form,” says organizer, Judy Petz.  The Classics Class will also once again be a part of this “Friendliest Regatta in the Caribbean”.

Carol M. Bareuther, RD, is a St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands based marine writer and registered dietitian.

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