Happenings (May/June 2008)

A brief look at the events that will have the Caribbean buzzing in May and June

  • Sailors prepare for the Optinam in Jan Thielbay, Curacao. Photograph courtesy Optinam 2008
  • YolanDa Brown. Photograph courtesy Yolanda Brown
  • Pulse Supermodel Jaunel McKenzie in Moncrieffe. Photograph courtesy Pulse
  • Masqueraders crossing the stage during Vincy Mas 2007. Photograph courtesy CDC/Kingsley Roberts
  • Tarrus Riley. Photograph courtesy VP Records
  • The westernaustralia2011.com Clipper sailing in the English Channel. Photograph courtesy Onedition

If all you ask is a tall ship…

If you’ve ever had a burning desire to sail around the world, but no idea how to go about it, Clipper Ventures plc, based in the United Kingdom, can help you fulfil that goal. All you have to do is go to their website and sign up to be a member of their team. No matter your nationality, job description, age or sex, all you need is a thirst for adventure and a love of sailing. They will provide the boats, the training and a qualified skipper.

The Clipper Race was established in 1995 (with the first race actually taking place in 1996) by legendary sailor Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, the first man to sail solo non-stop around the world. The 2007–8 edition of the biennial Clipper Round the World Yacht Race began on September 16, 2007 from Liverpool, England, and was the beginning of a rigorous 35,000-mile voyage around the world.
With 10 yachts taking part, each battling wind, current and sea to be the first at 14 ports on five continents before returning to the starting point on July 5, it takes an average of 10 months from start to finish.
You can sign up for the individual legs:

Liverpool to Salvador Da Bahia
Salvador Da Bahia to Durban
Durban to Fremantle
Fremantle to Qingdao
Qingdao to Santa Cruz
Santa Cruz to Jamaica
Jamaica to Liverpool.

Each yacht is sponsored by a city, country or region. This year Jamaica is competing for the first time, though the clipper fleet has experienced the country’s hospitality on previous occasions, berthing in Port Antonio during the 2005–6 race. This year the fleet is expected to berth there on May 19, depending on weather conditions.

Mirissa De Four

For more information: www.clipperroundtheworld.com or call +44 (0) 2392 526000


All aboard in Anguilla

The sixth Anguilla Yacht Regatta takes place May 9–11. The highlight of the events calendar of the northernmost Leeward Island, the regatta saw 28 boats taking part in 11 races last year, while hundreds of Anguillans and visitors cheered (and partied) on one of its many glorious white-sand beaches. Some five classes of boats competed in the regatta—two spinnaker classes, one non-spinnaker, an open and a multi-hull.

In 2003, a group of volunteers in the self-governing overseas British territory came up with the idea of the regatta. In three short months, everything was in place, along with the unique “Go…Mix Up!” theme, which allows sailors from international yachts to invite Anguillan crews onto their boats for one race and vice versa. That first year also saw the “Battle of the Banks” race, where two local banks raced against each other on 12-metre challenge boats (the actual boats used in the America’s Cup) from neighbouring St Maarten.

Sailing is an integral part of the tiny island’s history and is considered the national sport. Hosted by the Anguilla Sailing Association and the Anguilla Tourist Board, this year’s regatta is in support of the Anguilla Youth Sailing Club, which teaches youngsters how to sail after school and during vacations.

With free entertainment each evening on the beach and all kinds of barbecued delicacies and local dishes on offer, plus discount rates at some of Anguilla’s hotels, the regatta promises to be a weekend to remember for boat-lovers.

Nazma Muller


Water babies rule the waves

Two hundred children from more than 25 countries will arrive in Curaçao in June for the annual Optinam sailing championship. Named after the Optimist, a sailing boat designed for children under 15, the second most important sailing event for under-18s (after the World Championships, of course) takes place from June 28–July 6.

Having started out as a championship for North American countries only, Optinam has seen competitors from South and Central America in recent years. The top three teams from the World Championships have also been invited and young sailors from New Zealand, France and Italy will be taking part as well.

Curaçao won the bidding to host Optinam from countries such as Bermuda and Canada. The event falls under the auspices of IODA (International Optimist Dinghy Association) and under the ISAF (International Sailing Federation).

Nazma Muller


Jazz and coffee in Jamaica

Produced by the husband-and-wife team of Sonny Bradshaw and Myrna Hague, Jamaica’s Ocho Rios Music Festival is going strong after 17 years of bringing “black music” to locals and tourists alike. From a one-day event, it has now grown to fill eight days, with a grand finale on Father’s Day. In a phone interview, Bradshaw said last year the opening and closing jazz days drew over 500 people, with some of the 30 events pulling crowds of 5,000–6,000.

This year’s festival will be held from June 8–15 at venues across the island, including Kingston and Ocho Rios.

The prelude is a private event at the Forres Park Guest House, entitled Jazz and Coffee in the Mountains, on Saturday night, which celebrates two of Jamaica’s most famous exports: music and coffee.

At the official start of the festival, June 8, there is a children’s tour of Port Royal, once known as “the wickedest and richest port in the Caribbean” and made famous by the pirate Sir Henry Morgan. There’ll be a concert the same day at Morgan’s Harbour Hotel and Marina, where Bradshaw and Hague will perform with the 20-piece Jamaica Big Band. Then come free shows during the week in Ocho Rios, where the visiting acts and local reggae stars perform.

The theme this year is Women in Jazz (Part 2) and a talented bunch have been scheduled to perform, among them YolanDa Brown, a young saxophonist; Mari Isaac, singer; Marjorie Whylie, pianist and noted musicologist; Myrna Hague; Karen Smith, considered one of Jamaica’s finest cabaret singers; Dr Kathy Brown, keyboardist; Ouida Lewis, jazz tap dancer and percussionist; Leigh Frith, violinist; Barbara Walker, blues gospel singer; Effie Burt, singer; Monnette Sudler, female guitarist and singer; and the six-member all-female band Alice in Dixieland.

Mirissa De Four

For more information: www.ochoriosjazz.com


From Warwick to Wyclef

The 2008 edition of the St Lucia Jazz Festival will feature a combination of jazz instrumentalists and a range of exciting vocalists.

Heading the list of singers is the legendary Dionne Warwick, with her timeless classics. She is slated to appear alongside jazz vocalist Diane Reeves, neo-soul singer Angie Stone, R&B crooner Anita Baker, New Orleans R&B singer Ledisi, and the ever-eclectic Wyclef Jean.

On the musicians’ end, the Juilliard Quartet—Ron Blake, Eddie Henderson, Carl Allen and Ben Wolf—are sure to pull a crowd, along with saxophonists Najee and Jacques Schwartz-Bart, Alex Bugnon, Jonathan Butler, Nick Colionne, and David Sanchez. The Eric Ildenfonse Quintet from Martinique, with their blend of French Caribbean and calypso and reggae rhythms, are all set to turn up the heat.

The festival is scheduled to run over four nights from May 8–11. All the major performances will take place at the beautiful Pigeon Island Nature Park on the west coast.

Laura Dowrich-Phillips

For more information: www.stluciajazz.org.


Island Hopper

St Vincent’s Maroon Festival
When: May (dates to be announced)
Where: Union Island, St Vincent
What: Held three days after the full moon and includes, drumming,
dancing, traditional folk songs

Martinique’s 13th annual Culinary Week
When: May 12–20
Where: Sainte-Marie, Martinique
What: International chefs’ contest, promotional menus, food exhibits, dinner-dance
For more info: www.martinique.org

Music Food and Wine Festival
When: May 13–14
Where: Aruba
What: Wine and food tasting, pastry showcase featuring chocolate, tribute concert to Frank Sinatra
For more info: www.visitaruba.com

West Indies vs Australia cricket tour
When: May 22–June 29
Where: Test matches: Jamaica (May 22–26); Antigua (May 30–June 3); Barbados (June 12–16).
Twenty20 matches: Barbados (June 20). ODIs: St Vincent (June 24); Grenada (June 27, 29)
What: The West Indies cricket team battle Australia for cricket honours
For more info: www.windiescricket.com

Curaçao Dive Festival
When: May 24–31
Where: Breezes Curaçao Resort
What: Party, dive, snorkel, have fun
For more info: www.curaçaodive.com

Caribbean Fashion Week
When: June 4–8
Where: Kingston, Jamaica
What: Fashion shows, designer exhibition, receptions, after-parties, workshops
For more info: www.caribbeanfashionweek.com

Antigua and Barbuda Romantic Rhythms Festival
When: June 12–15
Where: Sir Vivian Richards Stadium and Russell’s, Fort James, Antigua
What: Vocal and musical performances by candlelight
For more info: www.antiguanice.com/np_events/romantic_rhythms/index.html

Kingston on the Edge Art Festival
When: June 22–30
Where: Kingston, Jamaica
What: Art shows, plays, art auction, digital/multimedia shows, open houses
For more info: www.myspace.com/kingstonedge

St Kitts Music Festival
When: June 26–28
Where: St Kitts
What: Performances by regional and international stars
For more info: www.stkittsmusicfestival.net

Fisherman’s Birthday celebrations
When: June 29
Where: Gouyave, Grenada
What: Boat races, fishing displays, parties
For more info: www.grenadagrenadines.com


Vincy Mas a must

While some islands have recovered from their annual carnival, others are now gearing up for theirs. For the people of St Vincent and the Grenadines, June is the month to show off their musical and creative talents to the world via their carnival, known as Vincy Mas.

This year, Vincy Mas celebrates its 31st anniversary, and the theme for 2008 is “The Hottest Carnival in the Caribbean.”

The event kicks off on May 3 with a grand launch. The Miss SVG pageant will follow on May 31 and the main events will run from June 27–July 8. These include the Soca Monarch competition, Miss Carnival, the calypso semi-finals, Mas on the Move, Dimanche Gras, Mardi Gras and the Monday Jump Up.

One of the most anticipated elements of Vincy Mas is the music. Problem Child, Bomani, Jamesy P, Zoelah and Kevin Lyttle (an Atlantic Recording artiste) are some of the island’s top performers, whose music has been spreading among the other islands, and the main reasons why many Caribbean people make this a must on their social calendar.

Laura Dowrich-Phillips

Red carpet for reggae royalty

Harlem will roll out the red carpet for reggae and world music royalty on May 4, when the 27th International Reggae and World Music Awards (IRAWMA) takes place at the world-famous Apollo Theater.

The longest-running awards to honour artistes from the genres of reggae and world music, the IRAWMA is the brainchild of Jamaican Ephraim Martin. First held in Chicago in 1982, the event has been held all over the US. On landmark occasions, such as the 10th and 20th anniversaries, it was held in Ocho Rios and Montego Bay, Jamaica.

Those honoured over the years have included Stevie Wonder, for his activism in South Africa, and Jimmy Cliff for his humanitarian efforts. Hugh Masekela and Rex Nettleford have been inducted into the IRAWMA Hall of Fame, alongside calypsonians Lord Kitchener and Calypso Rose and Nigerian icon Fela Kuti. Reggae inductees include record producer Sir Clement “Coxsone” Dodd of Studio One fame, Toots Hibbert, Bunny Wailer, Third World, Burning Spear and Judy Mowatt.

The headline acts for this year are reggae singer Ky-Mani Marley, hip-hop maestro Doug E Fresh and reggae gospel sensation Winsome Benjamin.

Nazma Muller

Kassav hits St Kitts

A kaleidoscope of Caribbean talent will be showcased at the 12th annual St Kitts Music Festival.

The extravaganza lasts three nights and features popular artists in R&B, soca, calypso, jazz, and reggae genres. Headliners this year include the international favourite Billy Ocean and, from Guadeloupe, Kassav, the band said to have invented zouk. Some of the performers last year were popular soca artistes Alison Hinds of Barbados and Machel Montano of Trinidad and Tobago, Jamaican singer Sean Paul, and American pop singer Michael Bolton.

Three direct charter flights to the island were added in 2007, from New York, Atlanta and Guadeloupe, to make it easier for visitors to fly in for the festival.

Sun St Kitts & Nevis, the local paper, said last year’s show made a blazing start and it’s an event that should not be missed. The festival is scheduled for June 26–28, at the Warner Park Stadium in Basseterre, the venue for ICC World Cup cricket in 2007.

Maresa Patience

For more information and ticket purchases:

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The views expressed on this website are those of the the authors and do not reflect those of the Direct Support Grants Programme.