The 2017 GSW sailing event

More than 400 sailing enthusiasts are expected to meet in Grenada from January 30 to February 4 to participate in the fifth annual Grenada Sailing Week (GSW) event, which is fast becoming an early season highpoint on the Caribbean racing calendar.

Boats racing along Grand Anse during the 2016 Grenada Sailing Week event

The event was officially launched under the tagline, “Spice it up in Grenada” at a ceremony held at the Secret Harbour Marina in Lance Aux Epines, St. George.

Organised by sailors for sailors, this year’s event offers a range of 6 Classes to suit a variety of boat designs and racing levels.

Racing Class caters for the serious, spinnaker flying, hi-tech racing machines.

Racer/Cruiser I and Racer Cruiser II have the option of flying spinnakers with applicable ratings and are also very competitive.

The J24 Class is a One Design spinnaker class in which crews on identical 24 foot boats battle it out in multiple, short, sharp races.

The Cruising Class caters for those who like to race at a slightly more relaxed pace, and the Classic Class is designed especially for the graceful, skillfully sailed, traditional yachts.

Geared to introduce challenging competition with a mixture of local and international yachts, the event has already attracted the participation and registration from 32 yachts from 11 countries including the United Kingdom, United States, France, Australia, Lithuania, Barbados, Antigua, St Lucia, Martinique, Trinidad and host country Grenada.

According to Manager of the Regatta, Karen Stiell, she was confident that given previous trends, “there could be around 40 boats competing with crews ranging from 5 to 15, resulting in 350 – 450 captains/boat and support crew/officials and volunteers coming to Grenada.”

All races will be held off the Grand Anse Coast and the South Coast, with other recreational activities planned for the end of each day.

In 2012, a group of sailing enthusiasts and marine industry representatives initiated the Grenada Sailing Week (GSW) to continue the traditional keel boat regatta formerly organised by the Grenada Sailing Festival since in the 1960s.

The first GSW event took place in Jan/Feb 2013 and over the past four years the number of participants have increased, race courses have been fine tuned for more challenging racing, classes have been added to accommodate a larger range of yachts, and a variety of venues have been selected to showcase the island.

In commenting on the various race courses for this year’s event, GSW Board Member, Shawn Jardine, who is currently a Boatyard Manager at Spice Island Marine Services told THE NEW TODAY that the intention of the event has always been to “highlight Grenada from the inception of the GSW regatta, with all aspects of racing whether it’s on the West Coast or the South Course”.

“You get more participation in terms of a viewing vintage point from the beach (and) the hotels all around the Grand Anse area (so) they can see first hand what is happening on the course,” said Jardine, who has been a member of the GSW Board for the last four years.

“So we go from very flat conditions on the West Coast to the South Course where there are a lot more waves and a lot more wind and it’s a lot trickier to race,” he added.

Jardine announced that “two locally built boats have registered to take part in the regatta,” including one by Jason Fletcher, the founder and Manager of Grenada Marine, who has won the regatta two years in a row in 2015 and 2016.

He was excited since Fletcher will be “coming out with a new machine this year, hopefully to repeat” his winning streak.

He said that Fletcher’s yacht is currently in the final stages of being built, expressing hope that “his new machine would be out in the water on time.”

Other than that, he indicated that at least five other locals have registered to participate in the event.

Island Water World has once again emerged as Title Sponsor of the event.

The race day sponsors are Mount Gay with their ever-popular Red Caps and Rum, Sea Hawk, premier marine coatings supplier, and Secret Harbour.

The Grenada Tourism Authority (GTA) is once again getting involved as an Associate Sponsor, Silentwind Generators is a Platinum Sponsor, Spice Island Marine Services and Swiftpac are Gold Sponsors, The Moorings is a Charter Partner and LIAT, The Caribbean Airline is a Regional Air Partner.

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