The First Race Around Barbados

The first recorded race around Barbados was held on January 1st 1936.

On December 12th 1935, Mr. H.C. Boyce from the Office of the Central Foundry, Pier Head Lane placed a small notice in the Barbados Advocate inviting schooners trading in Barbados to enter the first Round The Island Schooner Race to be held on January 1st 1936.

Five trading schooners took up the challenge, Sea Fox, Mona Marie, Marion B Wolfe, Lucille Smith and Rhode Island.  The conditions were sunny, with light winds as the five boats crossed the start off Pelican Island at 7 a.m.  Rhode Island took an early lead, immediately setting her 5 sails, however Sea Fox and her Captain Lou Kennedy outsmarted the other boats, by setting 8 sails giving her a distinct advantage.

On reaching South Point, the Sea Fox was a good mile ahead of second placed Rhode Island with another mile separating Rhode Island from third placed Lucille Smith.  The Marion B Wolfe retired from the race at this point, Captain Leverock later commenting that his vessel "was not properly ballasted" and "had not been dry docked or cleaned for a year and needed re-coppering". He described racing his boat against the Sea Fox was “like racing a thoroughbred against a creole”.

By The Crane the result was considered a foregone conclusion with the Sea Fox far ahead of her rivals.  However this did not dampen enthusiasm on shore for the spectators.  The Advocate reports “Apart from motor cars flying hither and thither, every possible vantage point, every little hillock that offered a favourable glimpse of the race was crowded on Wednesday last. It was impossible from many of these lookouts to tell with any degree of certainty which vessel it was that was described in the distance, but this made absolutely no difference to the punsters.  Each one was certain that the schooner to the front was none other than his favourite, and so everyone rejoice”

At 4.20 p.m. Sea Fox was level with Holetown off the West Coast, and was relieved to see her nearest rival, Rhode Island coming around North Point.  Mr Whitmell, one of her crew stating “We were pleased to see that the others had not given up.  We thought that they had packed up and gone home and left us alone to it”.

Sea Fox crossed the finish line at 5.20 p.m. giving her and Capt. Kennedy a winning time of 10 hours 20 minutes.  The remaining three schooners finished the race in darkness. The final placings were: First, Sea Fox (Capt. Kennedy); second, Rhode Island (Capt. Hassell); third, Lucille Smith (Capt. Cobham) and fourth Mona Marie (Capt. Hassell).

When interviewed after the race Mr. H.C. Boyce commented; “I consider that the race was a very successful one, but I think our Nova Scotia vessels, being of a heavier build than the Sea Fox, needed more sails and in one or two instances lost ground in the tacks they took…. I am glad to see that schooner racing is to become a regular fixture, and I hope that later we will have other vessels from farther afield competing.”

Click thumbnails to enlarge/read

 Barbados Advocate
January 3rd 1936

 Notice Of Race  Barbados Advocate
Jan 2nd 1936
 Barbados Advocate
Jan 3rd 1936

 

Five Schooners Race Around Barbados - January 1st 1936"
With thanks to Will Johnson for the photograph.
Four of the five Captains were of Saban descent. There were at the time some 30 Captains from Saba living in Barbados engaged in other businesses such as Plantation ownership, rum making, and the hotel industry.

 

Captain Laurie Hassle and his crew on The Mona Marie
With thanks to Will Johnson for the photograph.

 

The Sea Fox
With thanks to The Barbados Yacht Club for the photograph.