In front of a crowd which included sailing enthusiasts, sponsors, well-wishers, and even the Deputy Mayor of Gros-Islet, the 2nd annual St Lucia Mango Bowl Regatta was launched on Wednesday at the St Lucia Yacht Club. While still in relative infancy, the event is already emerging as a formidable force on the sailing calendar. Media Coordinator, Maurice Moffat, sees tremendous potential in the St Lucian market.
“Our vision is to develop this regatta to make it the must do in the southern Caribbean for racing boats and small to mid sized yachts.”
Anne Purvis, Regatta Coordinator, is thrilled by the response to date and provided a brief overview of the race structure.
“Last year we had thirty boats registered for the regatta. This year with just over a week to go we already have 27 entries so we’re really pleased with progress. A lot of the boats are coming back because they had a good time last year, and we also have some new ones.
“Of those 27 the majority are from St Lucia and Barbados. We also have boats coming from Martinique and Grenada, one of whom came last year in their lovely Carriacou sloop. We have two skippers coming up from Trinidad who will charter boats here to race in the cruising class.
“We have four classes in which the boats can race; Racing Yachts, Cruising Yachts, J24 Class and Surprise class from Martinique. There will be prizes for each class and a trophy at the end for the best in each class.”
Of course, the island has been plagued by financial difficulties in the past year, hindering sponsorship opportunities. However, despite the absence of gold sponsors this year, Dee Lundy-Charles employed the old adage that the show must go on.
“We’re doing this on a shoestring compared to last year. But we’re doing it, and doing it better. So i’d like to thank the sponsors across the board.”
First-time sponsor United Insurance was represented by General Manager Faye Miller, who stated: “We are very big proponents of sports and certainly it is our pleasure to sponsor this event, not only because we are big players in Marine Insurance, but because we are big believers in nurturing youth, sports development, and doing whatever we can to assist in sports tourism.”
One of the biggest supporters of the Youth Sailing movement has been Minister for Commerce, Business Development, Investment and Consumer Affairs, Emma Hippolyte, who is already tinkering with the idea of expanding on the existing product.
“I am one that is of the view that as a country we have utilized the ocean. I see the ocean as a key untapped asset for us. We have a good future ahead of us if we can link these activities and cause more of our young persons to have the opportunity to understand the (marine) industry as well,” she said.
The slew of activities kick off at the St Lucia Yacht Club on November 29 and runs through December 1.