by Sue Pelling
A healthy line-up of entries is expected at the very first Mount Gay Round Barbados Race Series that runs from 15-24 January 2014.
Silver Bullet, Bryn Palmer’s Supercat 30 from Barbados
With its warm Caribbean waters, miles of gold sandy beaches, and constant 12-18 knot east to east-north-east trade winds, there couldn’t be a more perfect location than Barbados to kick-start the Caribbean racing season.
Organised by the Barbados Cruising Club in association with the Barbados Tourism Authority and Mount Gay, the Mount Gay Round Barbados Race Series encompasses the already established Mount Gay Round Barbados Race plus a new series of coastal races, and a final 300-mile sprint to Antigua starting on 25 January.
With over 50 yachts expected to take part from a classic 32m three-masted brigantine to a selection of smaller classes including a fleet of J/24s, this event promises some serious competition.
Those signed up already include Idea – Reichel Pugh 78 – owned by John Wilson, UK, which holds the outright monohull record 70 miles clockwise round Barbados, with a time of five hours, three minutes, 34 seconds. Silver Bullet – Supercat 30 – owned by Bryn Palmer, Barbados, plans to defend the multihull title (four hours, 24 minutes, 27 seconds). Palmer, commenting on the round Barbados course for multihulls, said: 'It is an ideal, straight line course for multihulls with potentially only one tack and one gybe, so we are looking forward to giving it our best shot again in January.'
Wilson from the UK, commenting on the new series format said: 'I have been racing in Barbados since 1996 and am very proud to be returning as the owner of Idea to try to defend our monohull record. As a team we are also delighted that this January Regatta now includes some inshore fleet racing, which I am sure will attract more and more boats to Barbados year on year. It is a credit to the various yacht racing stakeholders in Barbados that this format has been agreed, ensuring a significant benefit to the Caribbean Racing Calendar.'
Other interesting entries include Matt Baker’s stunning Alfred Mylne-designed The Blue Peter that is currently en-route to Barbados, a 32m working Brigantine – Tres Hombres – from Holland, and Monster Project – a VO70 from the UK.
As expected at the home of Mount Gay Rum, fine Caribbean hospitality will be in full flow throughout the week with a party every night including the legendary Mount Gay Rum Red Cap party. The organisers have also teamed up with the Barbados Polo Club to run an exhibition match during lay day (20 January).
Peter Gilkes – Consultant to the Barbados Tourism Authority for Yachting Development – commenting on the 2014 event said: 'Having had the pleasure to serve as a Senator of Barbados from 2008 to 2013 my main focus was to make Barbados a yachting event-friendly location. We tested the waters, so to speak, by successfully hosting the IOM Barbados Worlds in 2009, the Fireball Barbados Worlds in 2010, then HRH Prince Edward's Royalist Regatta in 2011. In 2013 we hosted our biggest event to date – the 505 SAP Barbados Worlds.
'We are proud of our strong reputation of running world class events and we look forward to welcoming competitors to the exciting new format Mount Gay Rum Round Barbados Race Series in January.'