Ivan the Terrible is what Grenadians have nicknamed the hurricane that tore through their island paradise on September 7, 2004, ripping roofs off 90% of the homes and misplacing 80,000 of the 100,000 Grenadian people. Adopting the theme 'Sailing Ahead', the tenacious Grenada Sailing Festival organizers decided to do just that.
Kicking off the event today with a skippers meeting for the yacht racing scheduled for Saturday through Tuesday and for the Saturday and Sunday's workboat regatta. Following the meetings, sailors and friends partied on Grand Anse Beach.
Although this year's yachting fleet is not as large as in years past, those that have come have come not only to sail and enjoy themselves, but also to support the Grenadian effort. Hailing from the Caribbean, Great Britain, Holland, Austria, Australia, Ireland and the US, fifteen boats are entered. Many more local boats may have wanted to race but fixing broken rigs and shattered fiberglass have taken a back seat to restoring electricity and replacing roofs island wide.
Returning to GSF this year, Paul KING'S Disco Inferno
is sailing in racing class and will attempt to take first place honours for the third year in a row. He is joined by returning Paul SOLOMON, racing a new Henderson 35, Enzyme
. New to the racing fleet this year is the 55 Gemini, Jomani
, sailed by Craig DYMOCK; Rumor
, a Frers 45, sailed by Normal MARTIN; the J-105 Whistler
sailed by Peter LEWIS; Yacahu
, Jeff ROSE'S Swan 48 and Chris CHOULES'S Sigma 38, With Alacrity
The cruising class also has a couple of GSF veterans. David MCCULLEN has returned with his Farr 56, Farrfly
and Mark ROBERTS competes again in Flightless
, a Wacquiez 40. The smallest boat in the crusing fleet is a Ranger 37, Karl BARLOW'S Apollo
. Owing Karl only a little time is the only female skipper, Lucy MARCHIE, who is racing a Beneteau 38, Tulaichean II
. Austrian entry Rasmus
is a Swan 43 sailed by Dieter HUPPENKOTHEN and Frans van WINTERSVIJK from Holland will be sailing his Trintellas 53, Antares
There are two entries in the charter class. The Moorings 494 sailed by Edwin PULLEN and the Bavaria 49, Inspiration
, sailed by Will GROENEVELD will be scores in the charter class as well as with the cruising class.
In contrast to the small yacht racing fleet, the workboat regatta will enjoy a strong year with 24 entries. Racing from the beach will determine the junior and senior national champions. Racers come from several different communities throughout Grenada, Petite Martinique and Carrriacou. Many of the communities have held local races throughout the year to determine which teams will represent them at the GFS in the competitions for the senior and junior national champions. Each community chooses a design in which to hold their races. Island Sloops (A and B), Sportboats, Woburns and Canoes are raced and winners of races in these one design boats will go on to compete against other in the one design class developed specifically for this event, the GSF 16.
The big race of the weekend is held on Sunday afternoon. Weekend leaders from each of the five classes will compete in the GSF16s for the coveted title 'Island Water World Skipper of the Year'. Several thousand spectators will line the beach by race time with the winner not only taking home fame and glory but also a cash prize of $1000.
Rules for the workboat are kept at a minimum. Basically, according to Shem DECOTEAU, a crewmember from Petite Martinique who has sailed in the workboat regatta for the past twelve years, competitors must, 'Avoid hitting each other.
' Harry KEITH, an ISAF International Judge from Florida who has officiated at this event for many years explained, 'I can only remember two protests in all the years that I have been coming here. Almost always, disputes are handled amongst the competitors. In one case when we did hand down a ruling, the competitors left our meeting, held a subsequent one on the beach and renegotiated their own settlement.'
Steve KERNS, part of the organizing committee and national judge, says, 'We are trying to introduce the standard rules of racing but it is just not going to happen overnight.'