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Regatta should bring jobs, prestige

Natasha Beckles

Regatta should bring jobs, prestige

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BARBADIAN BUSINESSES stand to benefit significantly from the prestigious Panerai Transat Classique regatta, which is set to finish in Barbados mid-December.
Around 30 yachts are expected to sail from Cascais, Portugal, on December 2 and arrive in Carlisle Bay from mid-month.
Bridgetown is expected to be a hive of activity for about two weeks with a number of the vessels being berthed in the Inner Basin of the Careenage and a Regatta Village being set up in Independence Square, creating a focal point for competitors, officials, journalists and the general public to congregate for information and entertainment.
 “It definitely makes a lovely backdrop for photographers. Bridgetown at Christmas is usually lit up very nicely and you can just imagine maybe 30 boats . . . in the Inner Basin.
“That will add to the whole ambiance of Bridgetown and give the visitors who are here at that time something else to see,” said Peter Marshall, a member of the organizing committee, during a recent interview with BARBADOS BUSINESS AUTHORITY.
Senator Peter Gilkes noted that jobs were already being created since work was ongoing under the management of the Barbados Port Authority to provide electricity, water and moorings for the event.
“Not only does that serve for that particular event, but it serves to make the inner basin of the Careenage a useful area for mooring local boats when this event is over.
“We’re doing the work but it’s not exclusively for that purpose. It has benefits for the island going forward,” he said.
Race coordinator Alene Krimholtz said more than 300 people were expected to be in the island for at least two weeks since each boat would have about ten people aboard.
“Then people will be bringing their families and their friends. We expect quite a number of people,” she said.
Gilkes said the event will benefit a range of businesses including hotels, guest houses and restaurants as well as enterprising individuals or companies who can offer basic daily services to the crews.
“There will be people living on the boats and there’s an opportunity for an innovative person to go there in the morning and pick up the laundry from the boats, take it away and have it done and brought back in the afternoon.
“You can [also] have someone who makes a living by going up the chain of boats and disposing of their garbage for them,” he said.
The senator noted, however, that the “biggest plus” will be hotel-room bookings.
“When we did the Fireball Worlds [in 2010], we had people [who booked] from five-star hotels right down to guest houses,” he said.
There will also be opportunities for sailmakers, diesel mechanics and fibreglass technicians.
Marshall noted that race participants were “very, very keen to come to Barbados”.
“They are looking forward to coming to this little paradise; that’s what they tell us.
“That means when they come here, they want to see the island – so they will go to the major attractions and that means taxi drivers and tour companies will get business,” he said.
Gilkes explained that the event would attract “high-end” participants.
“This event is particularly attractive to us because of the calibre of person that it will attract.
“These boats are old boats and have a lot of maintenance requirements.
“Typically the people who own yachts like these have significant means for maintaining them. All of them will be skippered by the owners, coming across the Atlantic,” he said.
Gilkes noted that the quadrennial race which is being staged for the third time usually ended in St Bart’s. “Through some very good connections we learnt that the organizers weren’t overly happy with the St Bart’s location . . . and in 2010 we invited the owners of the race to Barbados to do the Barbados Round The Island Race, which they came and did and totally enjoyed.
“It was at that race that they decided Barbados would be their venue for the 2012 version of the race,” he said.
The Regatta Village in Independence Square will be open from December 16 to 29 and the area will remain fully accessible to the public for the majority of the period.  
Krimholtz said she was hopeful that some of the visitors will remain in the island for the January 21 Round The Island Race.
Sharon Christie, chairperson of the Revitalisation of Bridgetown Alive Initiative, said the Panerai Transat Classique regatta was a “wonderful” opportunity for Bridgetown and Barbados and noted that the Barbados Chamber of Commerce & Industry was committed to making it a regular event.
“[This is] one more step in putting Barbados on the map for the yachting world and returning Bridgetown to the centre of commerce and entertainment in the Caribbean – much of which was driven, in the past, by our strong history of association with the sea,” she said.