by Sue Pelling 2 Oct 16:17 BST
17-23 January 2020
Next year, for the first time in many years the course of Barbados Sailing Week's signature event - the Round Barbados Race - will track the fleet anti-clockwise. This means as well as the 22 records already on offer, the original outright anti-clockwise record of 10 hours and 15 minutes set by a schooner in 1936 is up for grabs, plus plenty of opportunity to establish more records on the new course writes Sue Pelling.
In an effort to make the event more inclusive for locals, and showcase sailing as a sport for all, the organisers - Barbados Cruising Club in association with Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc, and Mount Gay - have plenty of new incentives lined up for the 2020 event, which runs from 17-23 January.
Together not only have they come up with a well-balanced format to provide an opportunity for locals to join in the fun and 'have a go' but they have also enhanced Barbados Sailing Week's strong competitive appeal, to give racing enthusiasts new challenges on the racecourse.
As the opening event of the Caribbean Sailing Association (CSA) regatta circuit, Barbados Sailing Week attracts a diverse fleet with many using the event as the ideal 'warm up' for the forthcoming season. Already, within just a few days of the event's re-launch, there is plenty of interest with 12 boats signed up so far.
Among those hoping to contest the silverware (and rum) in 2020 is Mat Barker aboard his beautiful Alfred Mylne 65 classic, The Blue Peter. Others looking to take on the challenges include OnDeck's Farr 65 Spirit of Juno, Peter Lewis' J/105 Whistler, and longstanding event supporter and Round the Island Race Windsurfing record-breaker Trevor Hunte.
Mention must also be made of Franchero Ellis who will be contesting once again this year aboard his 19ft Pen Duick 600 - Oiseau - Noir. Ellis and his young team, who were presented with the Spirit of Barbados award for perseverance in both the Coastal Series and for completing the 60nm Round Barbados Race in 2018, will be hoping to succeed round the island once again in 2020.
Other locals already signed up ready to do battle include Bruce Robinson with Mandy (Hunter 29.5), Bryn Palmer - former Barbados Cruising Club commodore - on Silver Bullet (RC30 catamaran), Jonathan Gittens on Shangri La (Morgan 41), and Mike Krimholtz on Dragon Magic (Dufour 385).
Upholding the event's history of schooner racing, two big classics have signed up so far - Ruth, the locally built 33m schooner, and Tres Hombres, the 33m working brigantine that regularly races with barrels of rum on board.
Racing commences over the weekend 18-19 January in Carlisle Bay with two days of Coastal Races for racing yachts, cruisers, windsurfers, kite surfers, dinghies and paddleboards. To ensure those on shore, and on the beach at Barbados Cruising Club can follow the racing, there will be a mark off one of the viewing platforms in Carlisle Bay. There will also be plenty of activity for those on shore too with an opportunity for visitors to the island to join the locals for some real Bajan spirit.
As the organising club, Barbados Cruising Club is the hub of the event with most social events including the Coastal Racing prizegiving based there. Live music and parties every night at the club will include a Bajan Soca and Bikini Party, and breadfruit/pig roasts on the beach after the first day of racing. Everyone is welcome.
The Round Barbados Race traditionally takes place on 21 January - a public holiday to celebrate Errol Barrow Day (the birthday of the first Prime Minister of Barbados, and 'father of independence). This 60nm sprint around the Island of Barbados, which gives teams a chance win their skipper's weight in
Mount Gay Extra Old Rum, is the headline event. Now with its new anti-clockwise format, it should spark plenty of interest for those keen to have a bash at breaking the record that has stood for 83 years.
Following the Round the Island Race from the shore is going to be fun too in 2020 thanks to Mount Gay who'll provide buses to take spectators on a rum tour to watch the race at various vantage points (and rum shops) around the island. The Round Barbados Race prizegiving is scheduled to take place at the Mount Gay Visitors' Centre on the evening of 22 January immediately following a tour of the distillery.
For his first visit to the regatta, Sandy Mair the event's newly appointed Principal Race Officer, and longstanding Caribbean Sailing Association measurer, said he is looking forward to the event. "Race Officer is a new duty for me but I am confident and excited to be involved in this most prestigious event."