A Saint Lucian’s Glimpse of Las Palmas: WAVE FM's Mike Rogers

17 December 2014

For twenty-plus years – ever since the ARC finish relocated from Barbados to Saint Lucia – Mike Rogers has been covering the rally locally. He works for Saint Lucia’s WAVE Radio, 94.5/93.7 as a popular DJ personality. For the first time in his two decades covering the event, Rogers got to experience the start in Las Palmas.

We chatted with Rogers yesterday outside the ARC office in Rodney Bay Marina to see how his perspective on the ARC has changed now that he’s seen it from the start.

Mike Rogers Wave Radio“I was able to broadcast the fact that there is a lot within the ARC that I don’t think a number a Saint Lucians are aware of,” Rogers says. “What I learned in Gran Canaria is not only the camaraderie between the boats, but the economic benefits to Gran Canaria.”

Rogers was impressed by the transformation the ARC fleet has caused in the harbour in Las Palmas. New facilities, including restaurants and entertainment, as well as more dock space, better haul out facilities and really everything related to the marine industry has sprung up thanks in large part to the ARC’s annual migration. By extension, he says, the rally has changed Rodney Bay as well.

“When you look at the port today compared to ten years ago, it’s amazing the changes.”

Just this year, sidewalks have been installed along the main road in either direction from the marina, with guardrails to protect pedestrians from the sometimes heavy traffic during rush hour to and from Rodney Bay and the south of the island.

Similar, Roger’s has seen these sorts of economic benefits spread beyond the marina itself.

“Look at the farmers who got a chance to sell their produce at IGY’s Saturday farmer’s market,” he says.

Rogers works as a radio host, but he’s got a keen eye for economics, and recognizes his role in promoting tourism to the Saint Lucian population, in an effort to better the lives of everyone on the island. He saw things in Gran Canaria that he hopes to be able to help integrate on Saint Lucia.

“The trip actually showed me that there is a lot more that we can do,” Rogers says. He also recognizes that Saint Lucia is competing for the yachting industry with neighbouring islands in the Caribbean.

“I was impressed with how they go about marketing in Gran Canaria,” Rogers says, “and the acceptance that they have given the ARC. Plus, the fact that they are able to bring something different compared to the other sectors of tourism.”

To that end, Rogers, after seeing the infrastructure in place in Las Palmas see opportunities on Saint Lucia in the boatbuilding and maintenance sectors. Jobs like riggers, diesel mechanics, sail makers he thinks could be profitable for the islanders. In fact, he tells us that Saint Lucia has been in contact with the Taiwanese government on getting training from Taiwan’s boatbuilding industry and bringing some of those skills to the island.

Similarly, Roger’s hopes to bring more environmental programs to Saint Lucia. He was impressed in Las Palmas by the amount of bins that virtually each restaurant and café had specifically for recycling, and is excited that the ARC has committed to working with local companies in Saint Lucia to try and do the same.

“I’m happy to know that Andrew has embraced a local company for recycling. Which is something I think we can embrace in Saint Lucia, because we do have a problem with plastic bottles and the bags too,” he admits. “It’s good to see that outside of just sailing that the ARC is embracing that sort of thing, something we can look forward to improving.”

As for the sailors themselves, Rogers was equally surprised by some of the things he saw in Las Palmas that he’d previously not given much thought to.

“I found fascinating the number of people meeting for the first time,” Rogers says. “Yachties who have never even heard of each other. How can you be on the water for 18 days with someone you have never met before?”

He also acknowledged that the stress level among sailors was noticeably higher in Las Palmas than when he is used to meeting crews in Saint Lucia. Speaking to crews before the passage, it was obvious people were excited to get to Saint Lucia and enjoy what they’d been looking forward to.

“Rum punch, that’s the first thing they tell you,” Rogers said with a chuckle. “And also the hospitality of our people, which is an important factor. Once you arrive, there’s no pressure anymore. You’ve made it.”

Rogers also admitted his curiosity in one day sailing the passage itself, if he were given the opportunity.

“But it would have to be a fast boat, like the one that won the competition,” he joked.