by Greg Nicoll
The 2011 Mount Gay Rum Round Barbados Race returned after a short hiatus with an exciting race covering approximately 70 miles around the island of Barbados. The race organized by the Barbados Cruising Club saw 23 boats start the race in a light but building breeze off Bridgetown in Carlisle Bay. Heading northward the fleet met increasing winds as they turned eastward off Harrison Point lighthouse to the open seas. On the turn heading southwest along the exposed eastern shore of the island was a beam reach with the wind intensified to 20 knots and seas increased to 2-3 metre swells.
Schooner Elena passing Papajam - Mount Gay Rum Round Barbados Race
Racing around Barbados has a long history dating back to the early 19th century when schooner ships would compete to determine which cargo ship was the fastest and the winner in turn was able to command the highest premium to carry freight. The objective of the modern race is to break the records. The prize for breaking the record for the fastest island circumnavigation is the 'skipper’s weight' in Mount Gay Extra Old Rum. Unfortunately none of this year’s competitor’s yachts were able to match the mark set in 2004 of 5 hours, 20 minutes and 30 seconds held by Destination Fox Harb’r, a Dubois Custom 43 metre owned at the time by Canadian Ron Joyce. This year’s monohull winner was The Spirit of Juno, a Millenium Farr 65 skippered by 22 year old Irish Skipper Rory Faulkner. Juno is part of the Ondeck Sailing Company from the UK. The winning crew was a mixed bag of sailors from many countries that came with an even split between English and French speaking competitors that included Raphael Grisoni, Managing Director of Mount Gay Rum. Raphael kept the crew energized throughout the race and did most of the translation between the English foredeck and the French speaking rear guard. Sometimes during the race hand signals proved to be a more effective communication tool than spoken words.
Winning crew on Spirit of Juno - Mount Gay Rum Round Barbados Race
The most elegant and stunning entry in the race was 180.5 foot Schooner Elena. Although Elena was the only schooner competing it narrowly missed taking the overall trophy by less than 4 minutes. The crew of 46 had many notables aboard including Halsey Herreshoff and North Sails’ Jim Allsopp.
Foredeck crew show off on Elena - Mount Gay Rum Round Barbados Race
Mount Gay has committed to sponsor the Round Barbados Race for the next 10 years and with current sponsorship partners consisting of Scotiabank, Meile, Albion Insurance and the Barbados Tourism Authority this race will grow to become a featured event in the Caribbean racing circuit.
Spirit of Juno