Expanded this year from the usual three to eight days, the 2023 staging of Barbados Sailing Week is well underway and booming. Officially launched on January 14, this year’s event aims to rebuild the momentum around Sailing week and Barbados’ sailing community as a whole.
Touted as the most inclusive edition yet, the list of events at this year’s staging include dinghy class races, kiteboarding, wing foiling, and remote-control boat events. What is different about this edition is the separation of the youth events to encourage more youth participation in the sport. The junior dingy races are held both before and after the Round House Race, which is the most anticipated event of the week.
Sailing Week is being staged by Barbados Cruising Club in partnership with the Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc. (BTMI), Mount Gay Rum Barbados, Barbados Yacht Club, and the Sailing Association.
“With the kind of support from our partners, we can now really attract the kind of vessels that use to come in past. We can even go beyond that as Sailing Week has tremendous potential. I think we need to foster that, nourish that, and ensure that the marketing is done differently. This is the difference that will happen from this year going forward,” said Peter Griffith, OBE, Commodore of Barbados Cruising Club.
Speaking on the partnership with Barbados Cruising Club, Corey Garrett, Director of Caribbean and Latin America, Sports at the Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc., stated: “Sailors and all that they bring to the island definitely create an impact that we have recognised from an economic standpoint and also from an island-based standpoint.”
“BTMI understands that sailing week has the potential to become a signature event as it has proven in the past to be one of the top Caribbean sailing events in the region.”
What to expect
This year kiteboarding, wing foiling, and remote-control boat were officially added to the week of events. The Kite and Wing Fest will take place on Saturday, January 21, and Sunday, January 22, at Oistins Bay and Long Beach.
However, the highlight of the week will be the legendary Mount Gay Rum Round Barbados Race. The race, which dates back to 1936, is held on January 21 to honour the first Prime Minister of Barbados, Errol Walton Barrow. The Father of Independence was a sailing enthusiast and co-founded the Barbados Cruising Club.
The reigning champion of the Mount Gay Round Barbados is the Mod 70 vessel called “Miss Barbados” which currently has a record of 2 hours and 37 minutes set in 2019. A total of 35 boats, 70 surfers, and 400 to 500 skippers and crew are expected to participate.
This year, spectators can watch the iconic race from various points around the island. The viewpoints include: Animal Flower Cave, Zemi Café, The Crane, Tiki Bar, La Cabane, The Cliff Beach Club, Beach House, John Moore Bar, Sea Shed, and of course the Barbados Cruising Club.
Mount Gay Rum has sponsored the Round Barbados Race for more than two decades as Caribbean sailing is at the heart of its brand. The company has placed great attention on making this year’s Sailing Week more diverse.
“What we particularly enjoy at Mount Gay and what we want to highlight in this edition, is the chance to offer a very inclusive week, welcoming people from all over the world – young and less young, tourists, as well as Barbadians, kite surfers, as well as sailors. The spirit of camaraderie will be shared all week long, not just 3 days or 5 days but 8 days with the Mount Gay Happy Hour,” said Laurent Coson, Global Brand Director at Mount Gay Distilleries.