Wind, warmth and wondrous line-of-sight navigation make the Caribbean one of the most spectacular places in the world to sail. As a result, nearly every island hosts a regatta. Each is held at a different time of year and boasts a different flavor and ways for competitors and spectators alike to have fun. For all those who “gotta regatta,” there’re plenty of Caribbean events to keep you busy all year long! Here’s a sampling of sailing events for 2016.
Trade the snow for sun and sea
January through April are the busiest months with 18 major regattas planned on more than a dozen islands. The Caribbean Sailing Association (CSA) has worked with organizers to create a calendar through 2019 so that the dates don’t overlap in order to allow international teams to plan ahead. caribbean-sailing.com
“We’ve added three new events and very much want to invite all boats to take part,” says Alison Sly-Adams, CSA vice president from Antigua. The Antigua 360 is a one-day, round-the-island race on February 20th that helps crews train for the RORC Caribbean 600, which starts two days later. The Round the Island Race takes place on March 24th, the day before the St. Thomas International Regatta. Then the St. Barths to Antigua Race following Les Voiles de St. Barths departs on either April 18th or 19th and arrives in time for Antigua Sailing Week.
The pace of regattas slows down in the summer and takes on a more laid-back, family-oriented atmosphere. For example, there are two big youth events. First is the International Optimist Regatta in St. Thomas set for June 17-19. It welcomes nearly 100 youth sailors from the Caribbean, U.S. and Europe for keen competition and camaraderie preceded by a three-day clinic and one-day team race. Then, the Premiers Cup International Youth Regatta takes place in the British Virgin Islands July 16-17 and hosts nearly a dozen teams from throughout the region who camp out at Nanny Cay Marina and compete in modified one-design J/24s called IC24s. The Caribbean vibe is especially strong at the Carriacou Regatta scheduled for July 24th to August 1st. Sailors in modern boats as well as wooden workboats race. Shoreside festivities include greasy pole, egg and spoon, tug of war, and donkey races.
Fall for the sea
Late autumn regattas start up as hurricane season comes to an end. The Discover the Caribbean Regatta organized at the Ponce Yacht and Fishing Club in Puerto Rico October 28-30 offers classes for everyone from dinghy to larger keelboat sailors along with nightly fiestas. The St. Croix International Regatta November 11-13 in the U.S.V.I. bills itself as a great way to tune up for the upcoming winter/spring racing season. The Mango Bowl Regatta held at the St. Lucia Yacht Club November 25-27 features a strong contingent of J/24 sailors as well as a pig roast on the beach.
By Carol Bareuther, Southern Boating Magazine January 2016