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One of the newest regattas held annually in late April, early May, is the West Indies

Regatta. While this regatta is a recent addition to the St Barth’s yachting calendar

the boats being raced represent a technology from ‘yesteryear’. All vessels are

traditionally crafted Caribbean beach built Schooners or Sloops. The aim of the

regatta is to promote the dying art of Caribbean boatbuilding.

These classic wooden ships were the workhorses of the Caribbean long before there

were airports on every island. Everything from people, alcohol, cigarettes, to cattle

and general merchandise were transported between the islands on these ships. In

the early days, the vessels had no engines only sails, so the crews were in the hands

of mother-nature; if she provided no breeze they just sat back and waited until a

warm Caribbean trade wind propelled them to the destination port. This was a time

when everything moved a little slower and the cargo arrived when the cargo arrived.


These unique crafts were originally built in the Southern Caribbean islands of

Carriacou in the Grenadines. They are made entirely of wood and are usually built

on special wooden stilts on the beach. Once completed the entire village would

gather to help push the boats into the water. With advances in technology, there is

no need for these boats any longer, rendering the skills required to build such

vessels a dying art.


Thankfully a passionate group of individuals who live in the Caribbean have joined forces to revive this dying boat building technique. Annually around 10 of these yachts converge on Gustavia from all over the Caribbean for a long weekend of racing fueled by rum, cold beers, and great camaraderie. Not a regatta to miss if you are looking for an authentic Caribbean experience.



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