As the European summer regatta season draws to a close, the Caribbean vibe in Barbados is beginning to rumble with plans already in place for the 82nd annual Mount Gay Round Barbados Race Series which runs from 16-24 January 2018.
The opening Mount Gay Round Barbados Race Series regatta is now one of the most popular events on the circuit. With three days of coastal racing, the 60nm course offers speed sailing enthusiasts a chance to enjoy spectacular sailing on a race circuit with uninterrupted winds, and a chance to win their skipper’s weight in rum if any of the 20 records are broken.
Always good, close racing in stunning weather. Photo: Peter Marshall/MGRBR
Boats to watch and records to break
Tony Lawson’s MOD70, MS Barbados Concise10 that currently holds the record for the fastest time ever recorded (2 hours, 37 minutes, 38 seconds) beat Lloyd Thornburg’s MOD70 Phaedo3 by just 12 seconds in 2016. Skippered by Ned Collier Wakefield and team from the UK, MS Barbados Concise10 will be back on the racetrack in January to defend her title.
The sprint around the island of Barbados is also the perfect playground for big classic yachts such as the 65m three-masted Schooner Adix, and the 55m A Class Schooner Elena – the yacht that holds the Classic record of 6 hours, 11 minutes, 19 seconds.
In total contrast is the growing smallboat sector. As well as a Multihull Doublehanded record established this year by Bryn Palmer and Evan Walker on the RC30 catamaran Silver Bullet, an Absolute Foiling Monohull record was established, meaning the gloves are off for anyone who thinks they can better Andy Budgen’s Mach 2 foiling International Moth time of 4 hours, 23 minutes, 18 seconds.
Perfect conditions for Tony Lawson’s MOD70, MS Barbados Concise10 to really show her true colours. Photo: Peter Marshall/MGRBR
But winning the skipper's weight in rum is not all about racing, which is why the event also appeals to club sailors and the charter sector. Sailing his Dufour 44 – Luna – Andreas Berg from Germany circumnavigated the island in 8 hours, 7 minutes, 31 seconds, setting a new benchmark time for the singlehanded record.
This historic regatta dates back to Schooner racing in 1936, and thousands of spectators gather annually at vantage points around the island to watch these glorious yachts under sail. Racing is based off the Barbados Cruising Club beach at the south-west corner of the island in Carlisle Bay where there is plenty of mooring space.
And your visit wouldn't be complete without experiencing the legendary Mount Gay Rum Red Cap party. There is even a tour/tasting session at the Mount Gay Distillery and, on layday, there’s a chance to enjoy an exhibition polo match… with more rum… naturally.
About the Mount Gay Round Barbados Race Series
The first recorded race round Barbados was in 1936 when five trading schooners (Sea Fox, Mona Marie, Marion B Wolfe, Lucille Smith and Rhode Island) took up the challenge. Sea Fox, captained by Lou Kenedy, was the overall winner with a time of 10 hours 20 minutes.
The original race was based on bragging rights for the fastest Trading Schooner. This was also a lucrative time for race captains at a time when the price of cargo arriving ahead of rival ships commanded a huge premium. And in the early days, the consolation prize of a barrel of Mount Gay Rum for the slowest yacht had to be discontinued when it became clear that some competitors purposely stalled to win it!
The dreamy view from Barbados Cruising Club. Photo: Peter Marshall/MGRBR
More recently, in 2012 the Mount Gay Round Barbados Race expanded to incorporate the Two Restaurants Race, with racing taking place over two days. The idea proved such a success that event was further expanded in 2014, coming in line with most other Caribbean regattas, to include a series of coastal, round-the-buoy races, The Two Restaurants Race, and The Mount Gay Round Barbados Race.
The Mount Gay Round Barbados Race traditionally takes place on Errol Barrow Day, a public holiday to mark the birthday of the first Prime Minister of Barbados, and the Father of Independence.
At the end of the regatta, the 265-mile Ocean Race from Barbados to Antigua ties in with the start of the Superyacht Challenge in Antigua.