Our little island in the sun is home to so many gems, but for sailors it is all about the sea – becoming one with the wind and waves, and the boat that you guide by your own hand. And whilst 2021 felt dominated by pandemic restrictions, the sailing community was able to keep wind in our proverbial sails by celebrating our passion whenever possible while playing by the Covid Safety Rules.

In late May, Barbados avidly participated in World Sailing’s “Steering the Course”, a worldwide celebration of women in sailing, both in competition and administration. The Barbados Sailing Association chose to highlight our female youth sailors from the local sail training programmes: BSA and Set Sail.
The girls spent an afternoon learning and competing with radio-controlled one meter boats on Golden Pond, St. Philip, they were quite adept at the hand controls and showed off their sailing knowledge by (mostly) keeping the boats on the course and out of the weeds (the pond water was very low at the time, so the girls learned what “in the weeds” really meant).

The next day was spent in winds clocking 35 knots on Carlisle Bay for a single-handed dinghy training regatta. Not a single one of the sailors complained about the strong winds, the capsizing, or the fact that some did not even get over the start line of the single race we managed in those conditions. Instead, there were ear-splitting smiles of how well they managed, that they are sure they will never have a problem “uncapsizing” their boats again, and that heavy winds are not insurmountable - especially not for our Bajan girls.

The whole event was organized and run by our women sailors for our female youth sailors – it was an amazing treat all around!

Great minds were at work during our island lockdowns; never doubt our keen island sailors are always looking at ways to get out racing in order to feel the ocean rhythm full on. Bajans led by Steven Kern organized and then raced in the first Windward 500 Ocean Race. This race was innovative in that organization, tracking and judging were entirely online and marks of the course were GPS waypoints, with boats starting and finishing from their home ports. Covid kept the entries low for this inaugural race, however, the sailors that raced from Barbados, Grenada and St. Vincent & the Grenadines all had a frolic.

This ocean race between the islands created a large online following, all of whom were able to track the sailors in real time and cheer their favorite across their respective finish line. The next Windward 500 is set for May 16- 20, 2022. Kern says organizers welcome all racers and are hoping to attract offshore doubles teams, some large multihulls, and teams on charter boats. For information, contact skern@oneenergyisland.com
Windward 500 Racecourses 2021

And while sail training and racing were off the books for large chunks of time in 2021, most boat owners took advantage and looked to boat and mooring maintenance, assuring readiness for the first regatta on the horizon, as Barbados Sailing Week 2022 is a GO!

Our island is looking forward to welcoming yachts local and foreign to celebrate the start of the 2022 Caribbean Regatta Season, starting with Barbados Sailing Week 22.

The BSW22 regatta will run from January 18 - 23, creating a collaborative event between the Barbados Cruising Club, the Barbados Yacht Club, and the Barbados Sailing Association. All will be a part of the planning and execution of the regatta for the love of sailing – we want to share our island racing with everyone that can make it here. There is interest from international sailors to visit the island in order to participate in BSW22, and local sailors are extremely keen to get back on the water for some competitive sailing. We are very heartened by the enthusiasm of all. It is a joy to hear from sailors that they are coming, so you come too, and join us racing in the clear waters and great winds that beautiful Barbados has to offer – and that is just the on-the-water part.

Once again, BSW22 will have their long-standing and committed major sponsor Mount Gay Rum - we are very grateful they are with us to create an all-round outstanding event.

We are also very fortunate to have Peter Marshall from Peter Marshall Images behind the camera lens. Peter knows how to catch the action out on the racecourse, making for great and lasting memories. Of course there will be entertainment every day of the regatta too!

We are proactively spreading out the event meeting areas in order to accommodate physical distancing, while still allowing us to be sociable off the water while recounting that day’s racing.

BSW22 is excited to bring Kite Boarding as a class for the BSW22, there will be lots of action for all to see and experience.

This regatta, along with our other regattas, is registered as a Sailors for the Sea Clean Regatta, helping to guide and empower all sailors and boaters towards better ocean awareness and to increase our abilities to make positive change for protection of our precious ocean waters and all that they contain within.
You can stay updated through these websites:  https://barbadoscruisingclub.org/ and https://roundbarbados.com/.

PS You don’t need to bring any rum; we have that covered!!
Sailboat racing is one of the great sports that occurs out on the water, away from most everyone else, unless you get too close to one another out on the start line or rounding a mark!

We are looking forward to the days when our beautiful island can host another Worlds dinghy event. Each World Regatta that we have hosted in the past has created sailors who want to return to our shores and our crystal clear waters and great winds in order to prove themselves yet again.

As locals, we are the fortunate ones, as the Barbados sailing clubs run local races and regattas every year, which we are looking forward to starting up again in the New Year. Once Barbados Sail Week 2022 has passed – look out for more local racing on the calendar.

See you out on the water in 2022!