Until 2010 the Festival, which celebrated its 18th anniversary this year, was held on the last weekend of January each year however, in order to aid the development of the locally built ‘workboat’ aspect of the event, it now takes place over two successive weekends with the second weekend devoted to ‘workboat’ racing and fun and games on Grand Anse Beach and has become part of the island’s independence celebrations.
The Festival through its new sponsors, Port Louis and Camper & Nicholsons, hosted two days of great competitive racing off the island’s southern coast and saw an increase in the number of entries with racing enthusiasts from all over the region including Trinidad, Barbados, and Antigua and as far as Germany, Spain, the United States and Great Britain.
Peter Morris in his ….. Jaguar from Trinidad, and Peter (Champie) Evans in his …. Julia fought each other all the way for top position which changed hands continually. In the end however, Peter Morris in Jaguar claimed top honours and walked away with the title of Overall Festival Winner 2011.
Digicel is the main sponsor of the ‘workboat’ races and in fact these races are now entitled ‘Digicel Independence Workboat Regatta’. The competing clubs were Carriacou, Gouyave, Grand Mal, Petite Martinique, Sauteurs and Woburn. Petit Martinique with main rivals Gouyave on their backs throughout the weekend, managed to come out on top to claim the grand prize of $US 1,000 while Gouyave walked away with the second place consolation prize of $US 500.
The staging of this event was not just about sailing. There was a huge lineup of entertainment provided over both weekends and included Steel Pan, Fun Five-Aside Football, Beach Aerobics, Fitness Challenge, Tug ‘O War, and a Strong Man competition. Arts and Craft vendors were in evidence selling a wide range of goods and food vendors gave a multitude of options to patrons.
There were great after race parties over the first weekend at Port Louis and True Blue Bay Resort. The Digicel Independence Workboat Regatta races ran simultaneously with beach side partying and other activities and closed with a much talked about party and spectacular fireworks display.