Cruisers welcome in the Caribbean regattas

17 November 2018

Once in the Caribbean there’s obviously plenty of great cruising to look forward to as crews relax in the tropics after their long Atlantic passage. Visiting the beautiful islands and anchorages, and enjoying the laidback Caribbean hospitality are all part of the attraction. However, as the sailing season has well and truly closed in Europe, the Caribbean regatta season is just getting started and runs right up until May with the popular Antigua Sailing Week which has taken place for over 50 years. During the season, lots of ARC boats will be reunited at the different events, continuing the friendships made on the rally.

One of the sponsors of the popular ARC Sundowner happy hour nights is the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta (28 February to March 3rd 2019). Like most of the regattas on the Caribbean Sailing Association’s packed regatta calendar, there’s always a warm welcome for cruising boats who also want to be part of the action, with special classes to accommodate those who don’t want to race seriously, but who do want to join in the fun. All regattas offer idyllic sailing conditions alongside the infamous shoreside parties and great entertainment.

After the devastating hurricanes of 2017, the affected islands are well and truly ‘open for business’ and are set to welcome sailors for the 2019 sailing season. Two of World Cruising Club’s events, the ARC Caribbean 1500 and ARC USA are hosted by Nanny Cay on Tortola in the beautiful British Virgin Islands. Boats in the current Caribbean 1500 rally have just finished there after setting off from Portsmouth, Virginia at the beginning of May. Nanny Cay also hosts the BVI Spring Regatta & Sailing Festival (March, 25th-31st March 2019) and is one of many Caribbean regattas which offers a non-competitive class for cruisers.

Antigua Sailing Week (27th April- 3rd May 2019) introduced a new Club Class two years ago and it is open to crews who want to participate in the on-the-water action, but who may not want to take their racing as seriously as others.


Several ARC yachts and crews will be taking part in the fun regattas in the Caribbean and include Roberta Bowman from Vancouver Canada on Dobro Dani, a brand new Elan Impression 434, who was very excited to be sailing on the inaugural ARC+ route to St. Vincent: “We are doing two years in the Caribbean and are looking forward to joining a few of the fun regattas once there. We are planning on entering the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta, BVI Spring Regatta, Antigua Sailing Week, and a few others. This season we will focus on the leeward island regattas and next year the southern islands, before we take our boat through the Panama Canal and home to Canada,” says Roberta whose daughter will be joining them for the St. Maarten regatta.

There are many charter boats as usual in the ARC this year and these offer individuals an opportunity to sail across the Atlantic. Once in the Caribbean, they will also take part in many of the popular regattas throughout the islands, which all have their own individuality. It’s a good way to ‘dip your toes’ into the fun world of regattas if you don’t want to enter with your own boat, or perhaps to charter a whole boat with friends just for that purpose. After cruising the wonderful Caribbean islands, it’s a nice change to participate in something different and enjoy a completely new experience.

For a list of all the Caribbean Regattas, check out the Caribbean Cruising Association website