OVER 100 teams will be hitting the waters in Carlisle Bay over the next week as the 2016 GP14 World Championships will be hosted in Barbados. The event, which casts off on Easter Monday, is expected to see hundreds of visitors to the island, making it the largest ever international sailing event held on our shores.
Speaking during a media briefing at the Barbados Yacht Club yesterday, which is also the championships’ base of operations, President of the Barbados Sailing Association and Chairman of the Local Organising Committee, Gus Reader, said that the event, which is the fourth international sailing event to be held here, translates to benefits for the island’s sports tourism product.
“The fact that 104 of them will be taking part in the 2016 World Champion-ships speaks volumes about the enduring quality of this one-design class. With 104 entries, the GP14 World Championships is the largest sailing event we have held in Barbados, and this means 208 competitors, 186 support personnel and officials, which brings it to a total of over 400 visitors to Barbados for this event,” Reader said.
After being last hosted in Ireland in 2014 and never being held in Barbados, the event is returning home in a sense as in the inaugural World Championship held in 1967 in Ontario, Canada, the Barbadian team of Jack Hoad and Bill Tempro beat out the rest of the world to win the championship. This year, nine Barbadian teams have been in training for just under two months in the class as they hope to put down a challenge to teams from the United Kingdom, Ireland, Australia, South Africa, Sri Lanka and parts of the north-eastern United States of America. With several illustrious local names taking up the challenge, it will be the team of Jason Tindale and Robert Povey who have the strongest chance against defending champions, Ian Dobson and Andy Tunnicliffe.
Event Director, Andrew Davies, who has also worked on the Fireball Worlds held in Barbados in 2010 and the SAP 505’s in 2013, said that Barbados was making waves internationally as a sailing destination and could only gain more momentum.
“Barbados is known as a world-class holiday destination and it’s fast becoming globally known as a world-class sailing destination. The World Championships we have put together over here have gained the popularity and the respect of the sailing community all around the world. So we will continue to bring events here and the support we are getting is truly amazing,” Davies said.
With the entries up from 92 in the 2014 Championship, Yachting Development Consultant Peter Gilkes stated that the number of entries helped to make the event the largest one hosted on the island to date.
“We started out this programme with an expectation of 40 or 50 GP14’s. To that point, at the time, we even reduced the number of officials required for the event because we expected a smaller event than the Fireballs. As it has turned out, we have ended up with the largest event ever to be held in Barbados,” Gilkes said.
Stating that it was an honour to be invited to the island for the event, President of GP14 International Duncan Greenhalgh said that along with the importation of a few of the vessels, there were plans for a re-juvenation of the class in Barbados and the setting up of a regional branch of his organisation.
“We are highly delighted that Barbados has decided to import some of our class and set up a group of sailors. We are in talks to create a Caribbean branch of our association, so as to spread the class around the world.”