Mount Gay Round Barbados Race Series 2015 Record breakers prepare for Caribbean favourite – By Sue Pelling

Race teams planning next season’s calendar could do worse than sign up for the Mount Gay Round Barbados Race Series 2015 which runs from 16-24 January.

This event, which kick starts the Caribbean race season, was re-launched in 2014 with a new race format and plenty of record-breaking opportunities. It proved such a success that an even bigger entry is expected in 2015.

Consistent fresh conditions makes for exciting racing every day – photo Peter Marshall/MGRBR

Consistent fresh conditions makes for exciting racing every day – photo Peter Marshall/MGRBR

Organised by the Barbados Cruising Club in association with the Barbados Tourism Authority and Mount Gay, the Mount Gay Round Barbados Race Series encompasses the already established Mount Gay Round Barbados Race plus a series of coastal races, and a final 300-mile sprint to Antigua to tie up with the Superyacht Challenge.

The Mount Gay Round Barbados Race Series is one of the most appealing events on the circuit, attracting race teams keen to use the event as a warm up for the Caribbean season. One of the biggest draws, other than the warm Caribbean waters, miles of gold sandy beaches, and constant 12-18 knot east to east-north-east trade winds, is the opportunity to break records.

Ralph Johnson’s Beneteau 53 Rapajam – overall winner of Racing Class 2014 – photo Peter Marshall/MGRBR

Ralph Johnson’s Beneteau 53 Rapajam – overall winner of Racing Class 2014 – photo Peter Marshall/MGRBR

The headline event is the 60-nautical mile Mount Gay Round Barbados Race on Wednesday 21 January in which teams race to break and set Round Barbados Records. There are currently 14 established records, all of which offer the skipper’s weight in Mount Gay extra Old Rum if broken.

Raphaël Grisoni and his Mount Gay team aboard the British VO70, Monster Project are the current outright monohull round Barbados record holders with a time of 4 hours 42 minutes 28 seconds. Andy Budgen, owner of the charter yacht Monster Project says he will be back in 2015 to compete in the 89th edition of the race and to defend the title. Budgen commented: “This event is arguably the best of the circuit not just because of the fantastic racing and legendary parties, but also logistically. Most of the event is run from one location, which means you don’t need to have to travel miles round the island if you don’t want to. Even if we don’t manage to pick up a charter, we’ll be back in January to defend our title for sure.”

Other big boat teams already lined up for the 2015 event include two VO60s – Cuba Libre and Spirit of Adventure, two TP52s including BOSS and Baleria, the Farr 65 Spirit of Juno, and Ralph Johnson’s Beneteau 53 Rapajam – overall winner of Racing Class 2014. It is also hoped that the 55m racing schooner – Elena – will take part in the Classic fleet.

The strong J/24 fleet is always competitive – photo Peter Marshall/MGRBR

The strong J24 fleet is always competitive – photo Peter Marshall/MGRBR

For teams looking for competitive one-design racing the Mount Gay Round Barbados Race Series has plenty to offer with a chance to race among the super competitive local J24 fleet. This sort of short-format regatta is ideal for this highly exciting class. The 2014 event attracted a fleet of 10 boats but going by the local class enthusiasm, and the standard of competition, it is hoped there will be more overseas entries at the 2015 event. Although there are several local boats available for charter, the organisers are keen enhance the number of entries by offering a special shipping package deal for teams from the UK.

As well as the healthy fleet of J/24s, interest is building among other smaller classes, multihulls and windsurfers, who find the record-breaking challenge round Barbados too exciting to miss. Charles Hunt, who set a new windsurfer record in 2014 with a time of 7 hours, 59 minutes 10 seconds, will be joined by at least one other – Fabi Cornic.

As expected at the home of Mount Gay Rum, fine Caribbean hospitality will be in full flow throughout the week with a party every night including the legendary Mount Gay Red Cap party. Following the success of the lay day activities in 2014, the organisers have lined-up another Barbados Polo Club exhibition match, and a visit to Mount Gay Distilleries in Brandon.

  • Sue Pelling

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