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Bequia Heineken Easter Regatta 2013 ‘breaks all records!’

Bequia Heineken Easter Regatta 2013 ‘breaks all records!’

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The Bequia Sailing Club’s 32nd Bequia Easter Regatta came in for universal acclaim last weekend, as a record-breaking total of 54 yachts, together with 29 local double-enders, registered to take part in Bequia’s world-famous sporting and tourism event. {{more}}Conditions were blustery and challenging, but this could not dampen the spirits of the 83 boat fleet as they raced with superb skill throughout the four days of competition.

The highest yacht turnout yet seen for Bequia’s regatta, coupled with unprecedented numbers of visitors and following boats coming to Bequia for the event guaranteed a booming weekend for the island’s businesses. This annual seasonal peak, created by the regatta, continues to affirm the significance of Bequia’s signature event to the island’s economy and its contribution towards the tourism product in St Vincent and the Grenadines as a whole.

A large crowd of competitors from both the local double-ender fleet and the yacht racing fleet were welcomed at the closing ceremony by Senator Elvis Charles, representing Minister of Tourism, Sport and Culture the Hon. Cecil McKie. Senator Charles thanked the competitors the sponsors and reaffirmed his ministry’s commitment to supporting the Bequia Sailing Club in their work in putting on the regatta each year. Sir James Mitchell, founder of the Bequia Sailing Club and Northern Grenadines MP Dr the Hon. Godwin Friday, visitors, followers and fans all joined the competitors at the gardens of the Gingerbread Hotel for the Regatta Grand Prize-giving to witness loud cheers ringing out for all the winners and runners-up. Many took time to generously salute the all-volunteer Bequia Sailing Club for yet another superbly run regatta and to thank the people of Bequia for the warmth of their welcome.

On the local boat side, excitement ran at fever pitch on Good Friday for the First Citizens Big Boat Challenge, as the sleek new 28-footer Fo’ True took part in its maiden race. Owned by Dylan Ferry from the Virgin Islands and built and skippered by master boat-builder Arnold Hazell, Fo’ True’s glistening varnished hull drew huge crowds of admirers. With nine entrants overall, Friday’s First Citizens Big Boat Challenge was won by Bequia’s own Double Bluff, skippered by Lachie King.

The 29-boat local double-ender fleet that took part in the three-race series over the Easter weekend (two Heineken Challenges and a Mount Gay Challenge) came mostly from Bequia, but also included three boats from Canouan, two from Mayreau and one from Carriacou. Amongst the Bequia boats there were no less than seven competing with talented and fearless young Bequia sailors as crew. There’s clearly a whole new generation of sailors ready to take on the challenge of the Bequia Regatta for years to come!

With Monday’s long Mount Gay Challenge race for the largest boats postponed because of the difficult and risky weather conditions, the overall winner of Bank of SVG Trophy in this hotly contested 28-foot Class 7 is yet to be decided. The other overall winners were O Connie (Class I, Wag Service Station Trophy) My Way (Class 2, RBTT Trophy), Lightning from Mayreau (Class 4, Mountain Top Spring Water Trophy), Nerissa J 2, (Class 5, Caribbean Woods Trophy), with 140-year-old Iron Duke taking overall honours in Class 6 with The Bequia Sailing Club Trophy.

The yacht side of the regatta was officiated for the fourteenth year running by Principal Race Officer James Benoit from Grenada, working alongside the Bequia Sailing Club Race Committee. Two one-design Classes — one for the 25-foot French “Surprise” boats from Martinique, and the other for the popular J24 racing yachts, a Racing (spinnaker) Class and two Cruising Classes divided up the 54-boat yacht fleet. Competition was fast and furious in the unexpectedly blustery winds, and nightly prize-givings and get-togethers hosted by the Bequia Sailing Club and sponsors Heineken and Mount Gay Rum kept spirits and camaraderie at an all-time high.

No less than 14 French yachts made the long overnight journey down from Martinique to compete in what was widely declared to be their favourite regatta of all. They were joined by boats from Barbados, Grenada, Carriacou, St Lucia, St Vincent and the Grenadines (with an impressive 5-boat entry), Antigua, Trinidad, the UK, USA, Netherlands, Cayman Islands and Canada, all eager to take part in the Bequia Heineken Easter Regatta 2013.

Regatta Premier Sponsors First Citizens awarded unique teak trophies to the winners of Friday’s First Citizens Yacht Races and Big Boat Challenge, whilst winners of Sunday’s 11-boat entry Heineken single-handed Yacht Race and Monday’s Heineken Yacht Races all received additional prizes, courtesy of Heineken.

Regatta sponsors United Insurance lent their name to the J24 three-race series on Saturday, with the United Insurance Challenge Trophy going to the super-talented young crew from St Lucia on Bad Attitude, skippered by Frederic Sweeney. The 9-entry J24 Class included boats from St Vincent, Barbados, Grenada and St Lucia, each competing fiercely throughout the regatta’s six specially designed races. When the final results were tallied, it was Bad Attitude that was the Overall Winner, thereby also taking the J24 Southern Caribbean’s Champion Trophy for 2013. St Vincent’s own Saltfish, skippered by Philip Barnard, took a well-earned second overall, just pushing Charlie Gloumeau and his team from Barbados on Fadeaway into overall third place on a points tie-break.

Overall winners in the other four equally closely contested classes were Racing Class: Lost Horizon (James Dobbs, Antigua); Cruising I: Frolic (Hans Lammers, Antigua); Cruising II: Leonora, (David Spieler, Barbados) and Surprise: GFA Caraibes (Nicolas Gillet, Martinique).

But it wasn’t only competing boats that thronged the harbour in Admiralty Bay. Over 120 additional power and sailing yachts came to Bequia to see the legendary local boat races, follow the yacht races or simply enjoy being in Bequia at Easter. On Lay Day Sunday, regatta sponsors Bequia Beach Hotel hosted the Karib Cable Sandcastle competition on the beach at Friendship Bay, followed by a delightful afternoon of live music and children’s entertainment in the hotel’s gardens by the beach.

The Bequia Sailing Club would like to thank Title Sponsor Heineken (Corea’s Hazells), Premier Sponsor First Citizens and main sponsors Mount Gay Rum (Vintages, Bequia), United Insurance, Mountain Top Water, the Frangipani Hotel, Bequia Beach Hotel, De Reef, C. K. Greaves and Karib Cable for their exceptionally generous and loyal support of this prestigious sporting and tourism event. Thanks also go to the SVG Tourism Authority, Customs and Immigration, the SVG Coastguard, the Bequia Tourism Association, all business and private donors and all the volunteers within the Sailing Club who worked so hard to make Regatta 2013 the biggest and best Bequia Easter Regatta ever!

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