Mount Gay Round Barbados Race preparations – Crews enjoy layday Mount Gay Rum distillery visit and polo match: Sue Pelling Update

While some crews spent the day preparing their yachts for the grand Mount Gay Round Barbados Race tomorrow, the majority of teams took full advantage of their well-deserved lay day.

After three days of intense Coastal racing in the new format Mount Gay Round Barbados Race Series, crews were happy to take time out and enjoy Mount Gay hospitality once again. This time is was in the form of a visit to the Mount Gay Rum Distillery for a spot of tasting, and a trip to the Barbados Polo Club for an exhibition match – the Mount Gay Surf & Turf Lay Day Polo Challenge. Competitors were able enjoy a fine colonial afternoon sitting under the terraces with tea and sandwiches while watching the fierce battles emerge on the pitch.

Back at the sailing base, preparations were well underway for the Mount Gay Round Barbados Race tomorrow – the highlight of the new format regatta – organised by the Barbados Cruising Club in association with the Barbados Tourism Authority and Mount Gay.

John Wilson’s Idea – Reichel Pugh 78 – hoping to defend her Round Barbados Race record title: Photo Courtesy - Peter Marshall

John Wilson’s Idea Reichel Pugh 78 – hoping to defend her Round Barbados Race record title: Photo CourtesyPeter Marshall

Interest in the 60-mile sprint round Barbados is particularly high, with many keen to have a serious attempt at the outright record. And if the glorious, windy conditions that have been present all week continue, competitors will enjoy a spectacular sail tomorrow, with new records likely to be established.

John Wilson and team from the UK are back this year aboard Idea – Reichel Pugh 78 – to defend their current monohull record (5 hours, 3 minutes, 34 seconds), while Bryn Palmer, from Barbados, plans to defend the multihull record (4 hours, 24 minutes, 27 seconds) aboard Silver Bullet – Supercat 30.

Clint Brooks skipper, who spent yesterday evening coordinating the repair of Idea’s damaged mainsail and forestay fitting which happened during yesterday’s final Coastal Series race, said: “It is all about the Round Barbados Race, that is why we are here. Although there is only a small selection of yachts that will give us competition, our aim is encourage more big boats to this event in the future because it is fantastic sailing, plus there is huge record-breaking potential for big, fast boats in this particular race.”

The other teams preparing for a serious attempt at the record include Caro, Max Klink’s Knierim 65 that set a new ARC course record in December last year, and the Mount Gay team aboard the British VO70 Monster Project (formerly Kosatka the Russian entry for 2009 Volvo Ocean Race). There is even a local windsurf - Trevor Hunte – who’ll be out tomorrow for crack at the outright record.

As well as the racers in with a good chance of breaking records, there is a healthy mix of 36 boats taking part, including a brigantine, Tres Hombres, Mat Barker’s beautiful Alfred Mylne 65 The Blue Peter, plus a selection of yachts being sailed solo.

Steve Betts, from London, is one of several crews on charter yachts. He is sailing as a charter guest on Cheeki Rafiki, Storm Force Coaching’s Beneteau First 40 but after gear failure yesterday, when the boom broke, he says today is all about preparing the boat. “Although we are keen to make the most of the distillery trip, the real aim is getting the boat repaired so it is all set for the Round Barbados Race tomorrow.”

Crews relax on the beach in preparation for tomorrow 60-mile sprint round Barbados: Photo Courtesy - Peter Marshall

Crews relax on the beach in preparation for tomorrow 60-mile sprint round Barbados: Photo CourtesyPeter Marshall

Tom Slade and team on the Santa Cruz 52 - Renegade – from Florida, who won the Cruising class in the Coastal Series, says the team can’t wait to see how they do overall in the Mount Gay Round Barbados Race. “Given the right conditions, and assuming the angles are right, there is a chance we could break a record. It is a long race and anything can happen.”

Live aboard sailors Sean and Jane Gill who are currently circumnavigating the world aboard Happy Hour - Island Packet 420 – said it was only by chance they signed up for this race. Sean Gill commented: “Having sailed from Gibraltar in December Barbados was our first landfall so we fell into the regatta by luck, and thank goodness we did. Barbados Cruising Club welcomed us with open arms, and we will be back for sure. We are looking forward to a leisurely sail round the island tomorrow and we are predicting completing it in nine to 10 hours.”

Another team looking forward to their sail round Barbados tomorrow, is Nick and Adam Munday, who’ll be racing aboard the VO70 Mount Gay Monster Project. This father and son duo from the UK who won their trip to the Mount Gay Round Barbados Race Series for their overall win of the Royal Southern Yacht Club Summer Series champion of champions event in 2013 in their J/97, said they can’t believe how fortunate they are. Nick Munday commented: “As soon as we arrived from the UK we were offered a place aboard Dragon Magic – a Dufour 38 in yesterday’s race. Not only did we have an amazing day on the water, but it was aboard the type of boat we have back home, so it couldn’t have been better.”

Adam Munday continued: “What we are really looking forward to however, is getting on board the VO70, and hopefully breaking the record.”

Principal Race Officer John Coveney says it should be a fairly straightforward 60-mile sail clockwise round the island: “The line is between the committee boat and the club mast on the beach and there is just one mark of the course – the island of Barbados, so don’t hit it! The most testing conditions will be on the rugged east side of the island but it should be a fairly easy race with a close fetch up the west coast in flat water and decent breezes, a bit of a beat at the northern end, followed by a reach and a broad reach down the east side, a gybe at the south-east corner and a beam reach to the finish. Job done.

Mount Gay hospitality continues tomorrow evening with the After Race Party at the beach-based Barbados Cruising Club.

  • Sue Pelling

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