From left to right: Managing Director of Mount Gay Distilleries, Raphael Grisoni, and Commodore of the Barbados Cruising Club, Rose-Ann Blenman-Abange, look on as Manager of Sport at the Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc., Devon Chase, speaks during yesterday’s media briefing for the 2020 Round Barbados Sailing Week.
THE waters around Barbados will become a hive of activity within the coming days as the 2020 Round Barbados Sailing Week takes shape ahead of its marquee event, the Mount Gay Round Barbados Race on January 21. As has been the case for close to the past ten years, skippers and their crews are readying themselves in a bid to knock down old records and sail off into the sunset with the captain’s weight in rum.
With over 40 vessels from as far as the United Kingdom, United States, Europe, New Zealand and Canada and as close as the region and at home, the week is set to get started on January 17 with coastal racing on the January 18 and January 19 and the main event kicking off on January 21.
Manager of Sports at the Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc. (BTMI), Devon Chase, spoke during yesterday’s media briefing held at the Barbados Cruising Club and was pleased to reveal some of the details surrounding the first offering of the year on the BTMI’s calender of events. Although it was not uncommon to see persons taking in the action from the shore at different points around the island, Chase said that a new twist would be placed on the popular spot at the Animal Flower Cave.
“It would be remiss of me not to make mention to you, but you may recall that the late Errol Walton Barrow was a founding member of the Barbados Cruising Club under whose auspices the event is run. The Mount Gay Round Barbados Race, which takes place on Errol Barrow Day, will take on even greater significance as it will mark the 100th anniversary of his birth. And to commemorate this occasion, this is in line with the 2020 We Gatherin’ celebrations and his birth parish taking the spotlight, there will be a centennial celebration at one of the most popular viewing points – the Animal Flower Cave in St. Lucy and we certainly want to urge as many Barbadians to be a part of that activity,” he said.
With Spirit of Juno, The Blue Peter, Project all returning for the race and the likes of Columbia, Kali joining us in Barbados for the first time ever, of special note is the fact that half of the 40 entries are from Barbados, making it the largest local fleet in recent times. With coastal race taking over Carlisle Bay on the weekend, the event will also enjoy its largest J24 fleet in the last few years as well.
The year 2020 will also mark the first year for the feature race to begin in a southernly direction since being reinstituted in 2011. The first edition of the race in 1936 was a south-about and with vessels making their way along the South Coast and finishing on the West will definitely give the race a different look. However, it has generated conversation among sailors and pundits about whether or not it would change the dynamic.
Managing Director of Mount Gay, Raphael Grisoni, said that 2020 was set to be a hallmark year for his company. “I would also like to say that for us that 2020 is very important for many reasons. The ‘Gathering’ is putting a spotlight on Barbados and many from the diaspora are coming on the island to enjoy all the activities that are proposed and the sea and sailing is really part of what Barbados has to offer and this event is helping us to showcase more the possibilities and the fantastic conditions that we have here in Barbados for sailing,” he said, before going on to reveal that Mount Gay intended to give something back to the sailing community.
Stating that members of his team, led by the master blender, were having deep conversations with sailors during this event and other Mount Gay-sponsored regattas across the world in a bid to create a new product specifically for sailors to be launched for the 2021 Sailing Week. “Our master blender is working with sailors and you will see our master blender coming and exchanging in order to refine and to craft a blend that will be specific for the sailing community, which is a new thing for us – to design something from scratch for a specific audience,” he said.
With the coastal racing on Saturday and Sunday in Carlisle Bay and the main event on Errol Barrow Day set to get started at 9 a.m., Commodore at the Barbados Cruising Club Rose-Ann Blenman-Abange said that the Club continued to move from strength to strength and this event helped it to do so.
“We’re very excited this year because this is happening as Barbados celebrates We Gatherin’ and celebrates the centennial of Errol Barrow, who is one of our founders. We think that Errol Barrow, if he were alive today, he would be really proud of what we are doing and what we have accomplished for sailing and we hope to do even more, making Barbados really be a hub for sailing and racing and activities like this. And I think with the continued support of Mount Gay and with BTMI, we are definitely poised to do that,” she said. (MP)