Enrolling for the Spice Race

An update on the new Class 40/IRC race to Grenada, starting this November

Monday June 30th 2008, Author: Louay Habib, Location: United Kingdom
To date the Spice Race, starting on 15 November this year from the Solent, has had nearly 20 serious enquiries from Class 40 and IRC yachts - with more expected. Interest has come from all over the world including; China, Norway, South Africa, Germany, France and the UK. As well as boats wanting to race, there have been enquiries from people wanting to charter boats and individuals looking for crew positions both paid and paying.

Heading across the Atlantic to Grenada, the Spice Race is the first new trans-ocean race to run out of the Solent in nearly 50 years and follows the route of the trading ships that once sailed between British ports and the West Indies. Historic references to these activities can still be seen in the warehouses in Southampton and place names such as "Spice Island" in Portsmouth.

The focus of the race is on the Class 40 competitors, but the race is also looking forward to attracting IRC yachts, especially those looking for a more challenging race than those currently available. The Class 40s and IRC yachts will have the same start and course but will sail as two separate classes for the purpose of awarding prizes. Class 40s will sail boat for boat, IRC yachts according to their handicap ratings.

The Spice Race is being run in association with the Royal Southampton Yacht Club, which will be hosting the start of the event as well as overseeing the inspections, the race start in the UK and the finish in Grenada. Spice Race CEO, Tony Lawson has just returned from a fact finding trip to Marblehead (for the finish of the Artemis Transat) and Grenada where he was pleased to find a lot of enthusiasm for the Spice Race.

"I was good to know that some of the Class 40 racers in Marblehead were keen on the Spice Race and see it as a great opportunity to race this winter. Nobody wanted to keep there yachts in Europe when they could be sailing in the Caribbean. I met with both the Prime Minister and Minister of Tourism and firmed up details of our reception in Grenada. The PM said he would be delighted to present the prizes personally," he said.

In a letter to the race organisers the Minister said, "Grenada has enjoyed a long and successful relationship with yachts and the sailing community. Whereas we can only wish for fair winds and a safe journey for the sailors who race, we can definitely guarantee you all a truly hospitable welcome from our wonderful people when you arrive in St Georges".

The Spice Race will be putting on various events in St George's including a mini regatta and entertainment before the yachts disperse. Grenada will be "ready to party" when the yachts arrive.

Lawson continued: "I had a great response from the local hotels and businesses on the island many of whom I know well. I am sure the fleet will enjoy a superb welcome. Prizes have already been offered in the form of free yacht services and new sails. Some of the top hotels such as Laluna and The Calabash are arranging accommodation. True Blue Resort which is renowned for its parties are working on the entertainment.. With local groups and businesses in Grenada we are arranging an 'adopt a yacht' programme. An idea I got from my only Transpac Race. Those participating will support 'their' boats and welcome them in, regardless of the arrival time with fresh food (steak sandwiches and cold beer are my crews preference) gifts and the like."

In keeping with its ethos Spice Race is trying to ensure that entry fees remain as reasonable as possible. At this point in time, the estimate is £2950 per boat which will include the installation and monitoring of the necessary safety/tracking beacons, dockage before and after the race, inspection and entertainment. There will be an online tracking system which will enable family, friends and sponsors to track the fleet's progress throughout the race.

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