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The Significance of Sailing Festivals

There is a strong presence of a boat building culture in the caribbean particularly the Grenadine Islands which dates back hundreds of years. In those days, the main means of income came from trading and fishing, which made the boat building culture a huge business. To commemorate the beauty, craftsmanship and speed of traditionally built boats, various sailing festivals were born.

From it’s inception in 2009, the West Indies Regatta in St. Barths’ main aim has been to “encourage and promote the dying art of Caribbean boat building among the islands and share the experience of sailing on these unique craft”, as stated on the website. The event takes place over three days and includes an island market, great food and live music. 

The Antigua Classics is one of the longest running festivals which has grown consistently over the years hosting 50-60 yachts every year of a wonderful variety from 1960’s ocean racers to Carriacou sloops. It has gotten tremendous recognition bringing together sailors from around the world all for the love of sailing. Its origin dates back to the 60’s when captains and crews challenged each other to a race down to Guadeloupe.

The Petite Martinique Whitsuntide Regatta is a 4 day celebration over the Whitsuntide weekend where locals display their racing skills against other sailors from the mainland and neighbouring islands. The festival is accompanied by activities on land such as beer drinking and beauty contests as well as cultural showcases.

The  St Lucia Yacht Club is home to the Mango Bowl Regatta which started in 2012. It involves two days of serious competition in the Rodney Bay waters where Cruising and Racing classes face off.

The Grenada Sailing Festival Workboat Regatta established in 1994 is a celebration of grenada’s seafaring customs where sailors from communities with a strong sailing and boat building heritage compete against each other for bragging rights as being the fastest.

The communities include Grand Mal, Gouyave, Sauteurs and Woburn, plus the Sister Islands of Carriacou and Petite Martinique.

Workboats are made specifically for sailing and cost on average EC$7000 to build from scratch plus EC$4000-5000 for a full set of sails. On the up side,with good maintenance and storage they can last up to 10 years.

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