OECS Supports Yacht Race ‘For A Cleaner Future’
Wednesday, May 19, 2021 — The OECS Commission has signaled its support for the inaugural Windward 500 - a low carbon footprint yacht race being staged in the Eastern Caribbean by the Barbados-based Caribbean Ocean Racing Club (CORC). The eco-friendly yacht race sailed off on Monday, May 17.
Yachts from Grenada, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Saint Lucia, Martinique and Barbados, are racing in this novel event, with two yachts from each country entered in the race. All participants are based in the country which they represent. The yachts left their home ports on Monday and are sailing through the islands without docking, to return to their home ports by Friday, May 21. Stops will only be made if a yacht encounters equipment failure, or in the event of injury or sickness to its crew.
The first yacht to sail the designated route and return to its home port wins the race. Each yacht is expected to sail 500 nautical miles roundtrip over the five days. In keeping with the concept of a low carbon footprint, yachters from outside the region were not invited to participate in this homegrown event.
The Ocean Governance and Fisheries Unit of the OECS Commission, through the Caribbean Regional Oceanscape Project (CROP), supports the ‘race for a cleaner future.’ Race organizer, Steven Kern, explained that he reached out to CROP because his initiative aligns with the Project’s objectives for the Blue Economy. He described the low carbon yacht race as “a race with purpose.” He said:
“We want to reach out to enterprises and entities that already exist because of our drive to be sustainable.”
Director of Ocean Governance and Fisheries at the OECS Commission, David Robin, advised that serious consideration be given to not only routing for the yacht race, but also to search and rescue. He encouraged race organizers to work closely with Coastguards in the region, including the Regional Security System (RSS), comprising Barbados and the six independent OECS Member States. Noting that safety is fundamental to the successful staging of such an event, David Robin – a former Commander of the Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Coast Guard – appealed to the organizers to ensure that a safety plan is in place for the race. He emphasized that safety at sea forms part of the overall framework of Ocean Governance and the Blue Economy in the OECS.
The Caribbean Ocean Racing Club has mobilized support among its associates for the OECS Stronger Together Campaign https://stronger.oecs.org/ to help the people of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines recover from the displacement, social and economic hardship brought about by the eruption of the La Soufriere Volcano. The sailing community in Grenada and Martinique has been delivering in-kind support to Saint Vincent since the first wave of eruptions.