Friday, February 2, 2018

Record Setting Barbados Sailing Week!

J/105 sailing Barbados Sailing Week (Bridgetown, Barbados)- The beginning of the Caribbean winter sailing season was marked by the fun and games that are had by all on the wonderful island nation of Barbados.  The famous Barbados Sailing Week, hosted by the Barbados Cruising Club off their enormous harbor in Bridgetown, had another epic of week of sailing; including one for the record books!

There are two events in the schedule; starting first with Barbados Sailing Week from the 17th to 20th of January and closing with their epic finale- the Round Island Race on the 21st of January.  In the end, J/sailors on J/105s and J/24s did well across the board.  Here is how it all happened.

Day 1- Caribbean season launched in Barbados
Barbados Sailing Week 2018 got underway today to launch the Caribbean regatta season with a week of seriously fun racing and partying.

Glorious conditions with winds up to 18kts and a swell from the east were on offer for a 11-12nm course from Carlisle Bay for a fleet that ranged from windsurfers and an International Moth to the 65ft Alfred Mylne classic, The Blue Peter.

In CSA Racing Class, the super-tuned crew on Peter Lewis’ J/105 WHISTLER fought hard to earn their first top spot of the week. After what was probably the best start of the day, team WHISTLER sailed well in the tricky conditions and although they seemed to struggle with speed on the first downwind leg, they were able to comfortably hold off The Blue Peter, who had to settle for second place in class.

J/105 sailing reach at Barbados sailing weekDay 2- Grub crawl at Barbados Sailing Week
With winds up to 17kts, day two of Barbados Sailing Week was the penultimate day of the Coastal Series, traditionally known as the “Two Restaurants Race.”

The 22nm course offered spectacular sheltered flat water/ fast reaching conditions on the leg to and from the northern-most mark at Holetown just off The Beach House restaurant. On the southern part of the course to the Tapas Restaurant mark, the more lively conditions in the stunning, vibrant turquoise waters gave competitors a real taste of Caribbean sailing at its best.

A processional it may have seemed, but the long west coast leg from Carlisle Bay to Holetown provided plenty of opportunity for tactical racing.

In CSA Racing, Peter Lewis’ team on the J/105 WHISTLER demonstrated its skill by managing to hold its kite for the duration of the leg (there and back), despite a few debatable moments when the reach looked almost too tight. It paid off, however, and this local team of hotshots maintained pace throughout and managed to keep the ever-threatening team on the TP52 Conviction in second place.

“We thought we may have just beat them [Whistler] today, but not quite,” Staples commented. “We had a great day and I have to say that of all my 40 years of sailing here, today was what I regard as classic West Indies sailing conditions; good breeze and enough sea to remind you that you are sailing on an ocean. I was also impressed with the team today they worked well and there were plenty of smiling faces, which is what it is all about.”

J/24s sailing off BarbadosDay 3- Wind Gods love Barbados Sailing Week
The hugely competitive local J/24 fleet enjoyed the first of its new two-day race series at Barbados Sailing Week, while today was also the final day of the Coastal Series.

The launch of the J/24 race series attracted quality competition and, with four races, on short windward/leeward-style courses in Carlisle Bay, there was barely time to draw breath. The variable shifty winds up to 17kts also kept the racing exciting and close, which resulted in different winner in each race.

Gregory Webster and team on the 1981-built PHOENIX started the day on a good note with an impressive bit of sailing off the line with a port tack start. Risky as it may have been, this well-tuned local team sailed fast, high and, by playing the shifts and taking the favored right-hand side of the course, they led and went on to win the first race of the day. They then finished second to Robbie Yearwood’s DIE HARD in race two.

Neil Burke and team on IMPULSE claimed the win in race three, while Cyril Lecrenay and team on BUNGA BUNGA took the final win of the day in race four after a intense covering match with DIE HARD on the approach to the finish line.

“It was a tough one and, at one point, I thought we’d lost it but it was just a matter of keeping cover on DIE HARD and finally finding a good line to the finish,” Lecrenay commented. “I think it was tip top crew work that really counted today and, because we have sailed together for three years constantly we barely have to say anything to each other because everything on the boat runs smoothly.”

As well as good team work, it was also consistency that paid, which means that with a win and two second places to count, Yearwood and team from Grenada on DIE HARD lead the series by two points from BUNGA BUNGA with four races to go.

“Putting our lack of preparation, and confusion in the first race to one side, we put our heads down, focused on our strengths with the aim to live up to our name – DIE HARD,” said Yearwood. “Thankfully it worked and we made a comeback. A two-point lead, however, is not a comfortable margin at all so anything can happen tomorrow. But we have good speed so we plan to continue what we are doing.”

Elsewhere the final day of Coastal Racing was reaching its crescendo with fleets battling it out for all-important overall points. Although the well-sailed J/105 WHISTLER with Peter Lewis and his seasoned team had already secured the overall win going into the final race, the challenge was on to make it a hat-trick.

J/24s sailing downwind off Barbados sailing weekDay 4- J-DAY is Lay-day at Barbados Sailing Week
While final preparations were underway for the Mount Gay Round Barbados Race tomorrow, the J/24 fleet crowned its winner in the closely contested final showdown in the J/24 Coastal Racing Series at Barbados Sailing Week.

J/24 racing in Barbados never fails to attract a quality fleet, so it was no surprise that competition at the two-day J/24 series was hot & heavy both days. The overnight leader, Robbie Yearwood from Grenada and his team on DIE HARD, continued their form with wins in the two opening races.

However, a shredded jib halyard and spinnaker halyard in race three, while leading, almost cost them the series.  But, they still managed fourth place in that race. Thankfully, they had done enough to secure the series with a race to spare, leaving Cyril Lecrenay and BUNGA BUNGA in second place just two points adrift.

“It was a tough day having to contend with gear problems but we gathered ourselves together and got it sorted,” said Yearwood. “It was a bit of a disaster not being able to take down the jib because we couldn’t have re-hoisted it, so we had to sail with it all the time plus we had to use jam cleats on the spinnaker halyard and tie it.

“There was so much tension that when we went to take the spinnaker down it at the end of the run when we were leading, it jammed and we sailed right past the mark. Funnily enough we didn’t actually have to sail the final race but we weren’t sure about our maths so we did it anyway, and really enjoyed it.”

Yearwood is now preparing the boat for the 134nm sail back to Grenada tomorrow. “Going home is easy because it’s all downwind but it will still take 24 hours to get there.”

J/105 sailing off BarbadosDay 5- The Round Island- Stormy, Fast, & Fun
Squally winds reaching 30 knots from the northeast made for magical sleigh-ride and record-breaking conditions in the 82nd Mount Gay Round Barbados Race.

While the lively conditions in big seas proved too much for many of the 34 entries in the 60nm sprint around the Island of Barbados, for others it couldn’t have been more thrilling. In total seven records were broken – the largest ever number of records broken in the history of the event.

Among the young sailors taking on the challenging course today was Jason Tindale (27 years old) in the J/24 COLLEGE FUNDS. He and his team from Barbados Yacht Club once again demonstrated their skill by sailing a tactically sound race. Having established the J/24 record in 2015 and bettered their time in 2016; they’ve done it again with a time of 8h 18m 9s!!

Commenting on his epic sail, Tindale said: “It was, without doubt, the worst conditions I have ever seen at North Point. We had squalls of 30+ knots with gusts but by they we had no option other than to carry on. I think the most wonderful part was sailing on one tack down the east coast. Basically, you can’t get much better than that. It was, to coin a much-used phrase ‘Champagne sailing’. I think we also had a bit of luck today because, on the approach to the finish line the eyelets pulled out of the spinnaker pole. Had that happened further up the coast we would have lost the record for sure because we would have been under jib only.”

Crushing it in the 35 & Under Class was the J/105 WHISTLER, going around faster than most other larger boats. In fact, only four boats beat them on elapsed, a 100 footer, a 70 footer, a TP52 and a 50 foot racer!   Sailing photos credits- Peter O’Donnell Marshall  For more Barbados Sailing Week sailing information  Add to Flipboard Magazine.