By Louay Habib
Island Water World Grenada Sailing Week is proud to announce a new one design class for this year’s regatta. The J/24 class has more than 50,000 people sailing 5,300 boats worldwide in 40 countries with well over 150 active fleets and is still considered the ‘gold standard’ for modern one-design keelboats around the world. It is the world’s most popular One-Design keelboat as measured by hulls produced and there are a number of teams racing J/24s in the Caribbean.
Marc DeCaul, chairman of the IWW Grenada Sailing Week spoke about the news. ‘A group of J/24 owners from various islands spoke to us about having their own class and separate race course with a number of short sharp races per day. The Board of Grenada Sailing Week is always keen to listen to ideas from sailors and we thought it was an excellent idea. J/24s are already in Grenada and they will be joined by competitors who will sail their boats from Barbados, St. Lucia and Trinidad. So there will be some intense inter-island rivalry going on. We hope that the number of boats racing in the class will continue to grow and we will actively support that and if there are other one-design sailors out there or groups of similar yacht owners who want to talk to us, we are very happy to listen to your ideas. Preparations for this year’s regatta are going well, with challenging courses out on the water and some great parties after racing.’
So far, yachts from eleven different nations will make up this year’s entry for IWW Grenada Sailing Week. Caribbean boats include: Antigua, Barbados, Grenada, Martinique, St. Lucia and Trinidad and overseas yachts will be competing from Austria, Canada, France, United Kingdom and the USA.
One of the largest and most elegant yachts competing will be Mat Barker’s British 1930 cutter rigged sloop, The Blue Peter, which is racing across the Atlantic before the regatta. ‘We won the Classics Division last year, so we had to come back to defend our title.’ commented Mat. ‘On top of that, Grenada is such a fantastic place to sail and ashore the whole country seems to want to welcome you. Grenada Sailing Week fits in very well with our busy schedule in the Caribbean and I know the whole crew are looking forward to returning this year.
Last year, Jason Fletcher’s Grenadian Albin 36, Apero was pipped for the CSA Cruising 2 title by fellow Grenadian, Robbie Yearwood racing J/24 IWW Die Hard, but this year IWW Die Hard will be racing in the J/24 Class. ‘My crew are all workers from Grenada Marine and I think they really enjoy shouting at me for a few days!’ laughed Jason Fletcher. ‘Make no mistake there will still be plenty of close racing even though Robbie won’t be racing in our class. There will be some tough competition. The boats will be all different, but the variety of courses and boat rating system tends to even out the advantages. The regatta is a good way to unwind with work colleagues and also a time when we meet up with old friends from outside Grenada, so we will be mixing it up on the race course and back on dry land with a few cold beers as well.’
IWW Grenada Sailing Week is one of the friendliest regattas in the Caribbean. The racing is competitive, but that doesn’t spoil the fun of it and Danny Donelan, skipper of Petite Martinique Sloop, Savvy, is often found at the heart of the action, on and off the water. ‘Savvy is a boat that should be enjoyed and I try to get as many people to come and sail on her as possible.’ explains Danny. ‘Last year, there was a group from the Scottish Islands that were in Grenada, but didn’t have a ride, so I welcomed them on board Savvy. To be honest with their thick Scottish accents and my Grenadian lilt, we found it pretty hard to understand each other, but they must have had a good time because they are coming back this year and racing on Savvy for the whole regatta.’
One new comer to IWW Grenada Sailing Week is Ossie Stewart, the British Olympic medalist and International Dragon world champion, who sailed his Dufour 45 Island Girl to the Caribbean in this year’s ARC. ‘I sold my business and decided to cross the Atlantic and enjoy the Caribbean.’ said Ossie. ‘I have probably done no more than a couple of days cruising in my life and Grenada Sailing Week has had some great reports, so I decided that this was the regatta for me. Also there are a lot of boats similar to Island Girl, so we should have a great contest on the water and I am looking forward to some fun ashore after racing.’