Volvo 70 Monster Project has started her Caribbean season in style, with a convincing win at the 78th Annual Mount Gay Round Barbados Race. After a staggered start 4 hours behind the earliest competitors, Monster Project roared around the 60 mile course overtaking most of the fleet to cross the line in 4 hours 42 minutes 20 seconds and carve 21 minutes off the race record previously held by Reichel Pugh 78 Idea of London.
The 14.5 tonne carbon fibre racing machine, which hails from the 2008/09 Volvo Ocean Race, was chartered by Mount Gay Rum as its flagship for the Race. Skipper Andy Budgen and his professional crew of 6 were joined by a team of 11 guests of Mount Gay, including Managing Director Raphael Grisoni, helmsman Loïc Blanken and mainsheet trimmer/tactician Fabrice Cornic. Also among the guests were father-and-son team Nick and Adam Munday, who had won places on Mount Gay’s boat as their prize for the Royal Southern Yacht Club (UK)’s Champion of Champions 2013.
After a day’s training – literally learning the ropes – the team of 18 tacked the boat up to the start line. The dark clouds of a rainsquall lurking over the island proved to be ominous only for Monster Project’s competitors, bringing the Volvo a few extra knots of breeze for a cracking start. The team sailed north under a Code 0 before stronger breeze forced the helm to bear away and the bow crew to change down to the J2. After rounding the northern end of the island, Monster Project tracked southeast before executing a series of textbook tacks to the easternmost point of the island and changing back up to the Code 0. During a swift reach to the southern tip, the team hoisted the A4 masthead asymmetric spinnaker, with all on board helming, trimming and grinding as hard as they could to squeeze out every last knot of speed on the downhill run to the finish.
The honk of the Race Committee’s horn as Monster Project crossed the line was followed shortly after by a resounding cheer from its crew, justly proud after an error-free race. The only minor glitch for the day was the accidental inflation of one of the bow crew’s lifejackets after copping one too many waves during a sail change!
Next across the line was Idea of London, which was the winner on handicap, followed by 65 footer Caro. Local entrant Silver Bullet won the Multihull class.
Sunburned faces and tired muscles gave way to smiles and rum at the celebratory drinks that night and the Prize-giving Ceremony the following evening, where the team were rewarded with a handsome trophy and the Skipper’s weight in cases of Mount Gay Extra Old Rum.
“It was a great race to be a part of, with some strong competition and lots of local interest. There’s clearly a very keen sailing community here and we’re already looking forward to our next visit to Barbados,” said Budgen.
It’s fair to say that Monster Project made quite an impression on the Barbados sailing community, with numerous competitors visiting the boat in its berth before and after the event to tour “the Volvo.”
After enjoying another day of Mount Gay’s generous hospitality touring the world famous distillery and sampling its finest products, Monster Project and her crew – and of course their liquid cargo – set sail for their base in Sint Maarten to prepare for the next event on the calendar, the RORC Caribbean 600.
“It’s our first season in the Caribbean and we have quite a full calendar ahead of us. Everywhere we go is so different, it’s such an adventure!”
“The RORC will be great as we’ll be tracking past so many islands and of course experiencing a brief taste of Antiguan life. We still have a few spaces left if there are any adventurous types out there! We’re looking to bring home a good result from there too,” said Budgen.
Monster Project‘s RORC 600 adventure starts on 17 February with training in and around Falmouth Harbour, Antigua before the race start on 24 February. If the Round Barbados Race is anything to go by, Monster Project and her crew will certainly be one to watch…