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Barbados Sailing Week incorporating the Coastal Racing Series and the Mount Gay Rum Round Barbados Race concluded last night at a sumptuous rum-themed prizegiving dinner and party at the glitzy Beach House location at Holetown. The final 300-mile Ocean Passage Race to Antigua to tie up with the Superyacht Cup starts tomorrow (24 January) writes Sue Pelling.

Barbados Sailing Week, organised by Barbados Cruising Club in association with Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc, and Mount Gay, attracted a good mix of local and international competitors and a wide range of boats from an International Moth to Fryderyk Chopin the largest operating Brigantine in the world. Representatives from the UK, Russia, Poland, Australia, Germany, Grenada, British Virgin Islands, the Netherlands and the USA were included in the line-up of overseas entries.

Organisers of the event also welcomed the popular charter boats including OnDeck’s Farr 65 Spirit of Juno, and Mat Barker’s beautiful Alfred Mylne 65 classic, The Blue Peter. One of the most eye-catching entries this year was the globally-recognised Australian 100ft super-maxi – CQS – owned and skippered by Ludde Ingvall.

Another interesting entry, from Russia, was Pjotr Lezhnin in his Mini Transat 6.50, who finished 4th overall in the CSA Racing Series and third in 35ft and Under class in the Round Barbados Race with a time of 9h 17m 54s. Lezhnin says he hopes that more Mini Transat sailors take the opportunity to compete at the event in the future. “With the 2019 Mini Transat finishing in Martinique I think this event would be the ideal for competitors whose boats remain in the Caribbean after the event. I will be back for sure next year.”

Given the huge diversity of the fleet and big winds that reached over 30kts, it was no great surprise that a total of seven records were smashed at the 82nd Mount Gay Round Barbados Race on 21 January. Although the extreme wind and sea conditions led to many retirements, it was, as far as records go, the most successful in the history of the event.

At last night’s grand finale, hundreds of guests tuned out to celebrate the success of those who had taken part and achieved outstanding results in both the Coastal Series and the Mount Gay Round Barbados Race. With each of the sevens team winning their skipper’s weight in Mount Gay Rum, the Beach House temporarily turned into what looked like the packing department of a distillery with boxes of rum stacked to the rafters.

Record-breakers representing Conviction (TP52), Pata Negra (Custom-built Marc Lombard 46), College Funds (J/24), Luna (Dufour 44), Whistler (J/105), Trevor Hunte (Windsurfer) and, of course, Ludde Ingvall and his team from supermaxi CQS that took the 100ft and under record and the Absolute Monohull records with a time of 4h 13m 37s celebrated in style with, not surprisingly, copious amounts of Mount Gay Rum.

Mention must also be made Franchero Ellis and his young youth project team on the 19ft, 41-year-old Pen Duick 600 – Oiseau – Noir who was presented the Spirit of Barbados award for perseverance in both the Coastal Series and for completing the 60nm Round Barbados Race.

Ellis who sailed double-handed with Colville Thompson around Barbados said: “We basically had two objectives: 1 to cross the start line, and 2 to finish.” Talking about the most concerning moment of the race, Ellis added: “It was on the approach to North Point at Speightstown in 28+kts when the sail split along the foot. We reefed it above the split and, although we lost a lot of power and could have done with full sail at East Point when the wind dropped, we were happy just to get round. Even though we were out of the time limit, the most exciting point was crossing the ‘finish line’ under a silver moon and sparkling stars in the sky at 2100.”

John Coveney, the event’s Principal Race Officer, said overall the series and the Mount Gay Round Barbados Race on Sunday went as smoothly as he could have hoped for. “The race committee worked tirelessly to ensure the competitors had the best possible experience at this fantastic location. The generally predictable prevailing winds allow us to set good courses for the Coastal Series racing and, this year with the return of the J/24s, we were able to provide a short-sharp two day-eight race series which, appears to have gone down well with the J/24 class. Hopefully this will encourage more teams to join in next year, or even consider charting out their boats.”

Report written by Sue Pelling.

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