Following on from the hugely successful Coastal Series over the last three days, competitors at the Mount Gay Round Barbados Regatta, organised by Barbados Cruising Club in association with Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc, and Mount Gay, are enjoying a well-earned rest in preparation for Saturday’s big race.
The Mount Gay Round Barbados Race with its record breaking opportunities and a chance to win the skipper’s weight in Mount Gay Extra Old Rum, if any of the 14 records are broken, always sparks plenty of interest and this year is no exception. With a 50 per cent increase in entries from 2016, and an interesting fleet ranging from a Phantom Batwing 377 windsurfer, and a foiling International Moth, to Adix –– the stunning three-mast 65m schooner, there’ll be plenty for spectators to see as the fleet makes its way around the coastline of Barbados.
The good news is, the wind is likely to be stronger than expected; whether that will result in any records being broken, is debatable, but at least competitors will hopefully enjoy a decent sail around the Island.
Now in its 81st year, this historic race was originally based on bragging rights for the fastest Trading Schooners. The winner of the first race was Captain Lou Kenedy’s Sea Fox which completed the course in 10 hours 20 minutes. The fastest time ever recorded to date –– 2 hours 37 minutes –– the Absolute Multihull record, was established last year by Tony Lawson’s MOD multihull Ms Barbados Concise10 skippered by Ned Collier Wakefield and team from the UK.
The fleet line-up is impressive once again this year with a host of teams in Barbados ready to challenge, including Team Ms Barbados Concise10 that will undoubtedly wow the crowds once again as she flies round the island at mind-boggling speeds.
The custom 63ft Irens/Cabaret-designed high-performance multihull Paradox, skippered by Jeff Mearing, is probably the only real challenge for Team Concise, but she is currently still en route to Barbados, and is now looking unlikely to make the start.
Ocean Phoenix, the Custom Humphries 78, Maximizer a Farr 72, Spirit of Juno, a Farr 65, and the local TP52 Conviction skippered by Clint Brooks, are also likely to produce some stiff competition but one of the most interesting entries to watch this year, in the hands of her new owner Roman Guerra, is Monster Project. This former Volvo Ocean Racer V070 that still holds the Absolute Monohull Mount Gay Round Barbados record, has just arrived from its Transatlantic crossing. Guerra commented: “We are delighted to be here once again and have come here especially for this spectacular event. I know we have a lot to live up to, so we’ll be out there tomorrow to give it our best.”
Jack Trigger –– trimmer on Ms Barbados Concise10 and fresh from his class win in the Coastal Series aboard Concise12 (Diam 24) –– talked enthusiastically about the Round Barbados prospects. “Really looking forward to it. We’ve had three good days of Coastal Series racing and now preparing for the big one. It is a shame our closest rival –– the Nigel Irens-designed trimaran Paradox –– may not make the race now, but there will be plenty of other entries to watch out for including the foiling Moth. If that goes round, that will be interesting for us.”
Chatting about tactics Trigger said it’s all about timing: “Along the west coast it is going to be reaching and it will be all about how far off land to push it to be in the best pressure without being in the wind shadow of the land. It is also really gusty there, so it’s about sailing well through the puffs and keeping the boat moving. Once you get to north point you’ll be hardening up on the breeze but timing that tack around north point is pretty crucial especially in big multihulls because the tacks are costly manoeuvres. After that it is straight line sailing down the east coast. The last crucial part for us is timing the gybe as you bear away round the southern side of the island. The decision will be whether to gybe early or whether you hold out and do one gybe onto the layline towards the finish line off the club.”
As far as looks go, the classic fleet always scores highly and this year, with the addition of the three-masted schooner Adix, the crowds who gather to watch the progress of the fleet as it makes its way 60 miles round the island, will not be disappointed. At 65m she will be the last of the Classics to set sail from the staggered start at 9:45 p.m., while the Alfred Mylne-designed The Blue Peter will start at 9 p.m.
Howard Palmer, chairman of the event’s organising committee and tactician aboard Adix said: “The weather in the Atlantic has been strange this season and the forecast for the race is for ten knots or so which is below what we had on Elena when we broke the record. However, the sea will be a lot flatter at the north end of the island and with a little luck the breeze will have some north in it. Adix has the new rig and some new sails so watch this space!”
The classic fleet wouldn’t be complete without Ruth, the locally built 33m schooner whose design is based on the Canadian grand banks schooner Bluenose –– a working cargo ship that uses historic Caribbean regional trading routes. She also provides training opportunities for 18-25 year olds. John Munroe the deck boss on schooner Ruth said although they are not particularly prepared this year, they are looking forward to being on the start line. “We always love to compete in this race, although we are so slow we know won’t make it round in the time limit. That being the case, we are just going out to enjoy ourselves and make the most of this special day on the water.”
Jamie Cox skipper and owner of Amaroo (Hanse 575), who arrived yesterday after crossing the Atlantic from Southampton is delighted to be taking part in the race: “We left in October, went straight to the British Virgin Islands then to St Lucia and then here to get my US visa and decided to do the race. Perfect timing, in fact. Really looking forward to the race tomorrow. If we can win my weight in rum, that will be a real bonus!”
Andy Budgen talking about the prospects of racing a foiling Moth –– Nano Project –– 60nm round Barbados said it will be totally condition dependent: “I’ve been experimenting with different gear this week but I’ve decided I’ll probably stick with the smaller foils, which will help me on the long downwind leg to the finish after I’ve been out there three hours or so and feeling tired. It’s much more controllable in waves. I am predicting I’ll be round in four or five hours with a bit of luck. The Mach 2 is probably not as good in waves as the new Exocet designs out there, so if I do get a chance to come and do this race again, I’ll probably go for an Exocet because I probably have more chance of getting round without getting wiped out.
“It is a long time to be out sailing flat out in a Moth doing 20+ knots. There’s certainly no time for refreshment. Not sure what I am going to do about that. I probably won’t push it too hard to begin with. I am just crossing my fingers it all stays together, and I stay together!”
Racing for tomorrow’s 60nm Mount Gay Round Barbados Race begins at 7 p.m. with staggered starts just off Barbados Cruising Club. The fastest boat –– MOD multihull Ms Barbados Concise10 –– will be last to start in the sequence. Further information and details can be sourced at alenebarbadoscruisingclub.org.