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Record-breaking turnout at Bequia Easter Regatta

Record-breaking turnout at Bequia Easter Regatta


Despite rumours that Bequia’s 27th Easter Regatta was about to be cancelled and that Port Elizabeth was going to be evacuated because of approaching northerly swells, the Bequia Sailing Club triumphed this year with a record-breaking 45 yachts and 28 local double-enders making up the 73-boat Regatta fleet.{{more}}

Sadly absent this year because of the unusually high seas were the group of double-enders from Carriacou who have loyally attended the Bequia Easter Regatta for many years. But the competition amongst the 28ft double-enders was still as exciting as ever, with one of the closet finishes ever on the last day of racing. The whole island was on its feet cheering as the yellow-hulled “Bluff”, skippered by Lachie King, inched ahead of “Cloudy Bay”, with Arnold Hazell at the helm, to win by a whisker on the finish line on Monday and complete a clean sweep in its class. Wayne Gooding’s “Confusion” took overall second in the 28ft Class, with “Cloudy Bay” in overall third. Fourth place overall went to Lennox Taylor’s “Brave Heart”, with Gladwyn Taylor at the helm, and a crew, made up of no less than four members of the Manhattan Sailing Club, led by their Commodore Michael Fortenbaugh. “We had an amazing time” said a delighted Fortenbaugh afterwards. “Bequia Regatta way exceeded our expectations and racing in Brave Heart was the most thrilling sailing of my entire life!”

Skipper of ‘Bluff’ Lachie King (left) and crewman Jarson Hazell receive their Overall Winner’s trophy from Dr. Godwin Friday MP.

Stand-out competitor in the smaller boat classes was Samuel Harry racing in his 14ft double-ender “My Love”. Harry took two firsts and a second in the three race series, outsailing his nearest rivals Samuel Forde of Mayreau in “Bad Feelings” and Hudson Ollivierre of Canouan in “D Shark”, who took second and third overall, respectively.

On the yacht side of the Regatta, the yachts were divided into four Classes, including a “one boat” Class for J24s, which saw another record being broken. The eleven J24 entries represented the largest ever gathering of any keelboat class in the southern Caribbean, and this record is a major milestone for Bequia. The Bequia Sailing Club started the special J24 Class in their Easter Regatta 2005, and Bequia is now the regatta of choice for these very popular boats. The J24s came from Barbados, Trinidad, St. Lucia, Bequia, and Grenada, and it was the Lucian boats which swept the board in the final results. In a surprise upset, Benjamin Todd’s “Attitude” stole Overall First from Mike Green’s “Unbridled”, with Nick Forsberg’s “Jabal” coming from behind to take Overall Third.

In the other three yacht classes, no less than ten boats made the journey from Martinique to compete in the Racing Class, joining winner Richard Szyjan from Grenada on his Hobie 33 “Category 5”. In the two Cruising Classes, boats came from the USA, Canada, Antigua, Grenada, Barbados, Trinidad, the UK and Germany to compete in the four days of near perfect racing conditions. American Rich Washington took overall first in Cruising II in his C&C 38 “Hot Chocolate”, and Bequia Regatta regular Rawle Barrow from Trinidad took Overall First in the Cruising I Class for Caribbean Sailing Association-rated boats in “Petit Careme”, a Beneteau 38.

The Sandcastle competition in Friendship Bay was popular with all ages.

Bequia Easter Regatta attracted a record number of visitors to the island with virtually all of the tiny island’s accommodation booked up weeks in advance. They were not to be disappointed, with eager spectators lining the race starts and finishes and fun for all the family at the traditional Bequia coconut boats races on Monday and the ever-popular Sandcastle Competition and Crazy Craft Race on Easter Sunday in Friendship Bay. The all-volunteer Bequia Sailing Club came in for universally high praise for its organization and smooth running of the Regatta, and received many promises to return in 2009 in even greater numbers.

Ashore, the Easter weekend took on a carnival atmosphere, with activities, games, stalls and music under Almond Trees organized by the Bequia community. Bequians, tourists and thousands of visitors from the mainland enjoyed the Sunday and Monday festivities in Lower Bay and Port Elizabeth.

The Bequia Sailing Club would like to thank their main sponsors Heineken (St. Vincent Brewery), Mount Gay and Pepsi (Bottlers Ltd.), The SVG Ministry of Tourism,Youth and Sport, Digicel, Mountain Top Water, Tradewinds Cruise Club, the Frangipani Hotel, Windward Island Plantation and C. K. Greaves for their exceptionally generous and loyal support of this prestigious sporting and tourism

event. Thanks must also go to all business and private donors and all the volunteers within the Sailing Club who worked so hard to make Regatta 2008 another huge success.

A full list of donors will be published in a future issue.