Barbados: Year of Sport
Posted: 26 May 2017
Sport and summer are the perfect pairing. Barbados is a real hive of sporting activity and the island has declared 2017 the Year of Sports, so there is no better time to visit this richly rewarding location. So, what’s on offer? As always with Barbados, there’s a little bit of everything and something to suit every interest. We’ve created a league table of our favourite, unmissable, events and we recommend trying the more unusual ones during your luxury Caribbean holiday as Barbados is a true host with the most and you’ll likely discover a new sport to love as this iconic island has an incredible way of bringing events to life with energy, enthusiasm and effervescent Bajan spirit!
1. Barbados doesn’t like cricket. Barbados LOVES cricket. Nicknamed ‘little England’, Barbados inherited cricket during the days of the Empire as the occupying rulers found the Caribbean climate ideal for afternoons spent racking up runs and hunting for wickets. The West Indies were quick on the uptake of cricket and quickly became masters of the game. During the 1960s and 1970s, the formidable West Indies team dominated the world and their legacy is alive and well in Barbados decades later. The famous '3Ws', the infallible batting trio Sir Frank Worrell, Sir Everton Weekes, and Sir Clyde Walcott – were born in Barbados and gave the ‘winning Windies’ their bite, are naturally a source of intense pride for this cricket-obsessed nation. Nowadays of course cricket’s starpower is concentrated within the T20 format and, after the incredible showdown of the 2016 T20 World Cup Final, the West Indies have a lot of talent to showcase. From 4th August 2017, the Caribbean Premier League will be taking place across the major Caribbean islands including Barbados. The island’s native team is the Barbados Tridents and there are many of cricket’s biggest names expected to sign to play for the Caribbean’s ‘Home of Cricket’.
2. Another bi-product of the Commonwealth connection is Barbados’ love of polo. The international polo season begins during the Christmas period in Barbados, and makes a fantastic addition to any festive itinerary. Whilst the sporting event itself is undoubtedly the star, the famous Bajan hospitality is equally as alluring. You’ll enjoy the company of the island’s elite, sip expertly-made rum punch in the sun and sample some delicious cuisine at the ultra-exclusive Apes Hill Polo Club. For those who are inspired by the action, polo lessons, livery and horse care classes are also available upon request.
3. One of the lesser known sports in Barbados is rally driving. The island’s varied terrain makes for a thrilling drive and the annual Sol Rally attracts strong crowds, enjoying both the party atmosphere and the fast-paced entertainment. The world’s best rally stars will accelerate the adrenaline in early June to reinvigorate the Caribbean’s image as a collection of sleepy, sedate islands. There are of course plenty of peaceful pockets to escape to within Barbados if you’re not a petrol head but we suggest you revel in the revving of engines and Barbados’ love of speed roaring to life.
4. It wouldn’t be a trip to the Caribbean without a jaunt on the turquoise-coloured water. Whilst amateurs can enjoy the tranquil pace and scenic views as they take to the sea on a chartered cruise, there is nothing quite like seeing the professionals at work. The Finn Masters is the definitive class championship for Finn sailors with over forty years of experience. A Finn is a 4.5 meter singlehanded dinghy with a single mast, which has featured in the Olympics since the 1950s. Finn sailing is widely regarded as the most challenging sailing event due to the fitness and capability it demands of the sailors. The small scale of the boats make them highly susceptible to variant conditions and therefore speed and agility is essential. The Finn Masters is seen as a sister-event to the America’s Cup and takes place in Barbados during June.
5. Whilst the Finn Masters is strictly a spectator event, Barbados’ has plenty of other watersports to tempt you from the beach. Red Paddle Co is one of the most forward-thinking watersports event companies and they have developed a cutting-edge team racing concept that will launch in Barbados this October. What’s more, you can enter the race! The Dragon World Championships will take place over three days, and teams will use Stand-Up Paddleboards to compete. No experience is necessary, just eager enthusiasm. Barbados has taken its role as the inaugural host very seriously and planned many parties, celebrations and dining experiences to coincide with this truly unique event. Whether you decide to take to the water or cheer from the sand, you’re sure to be swept up in the carnival-like festivities of the Dragon World Championships.
John Hibbard, Co-Founder and Managing Director of Red Paddle Co explains: “Meeting the requirements for the Dragon World Championships is simple; all you have to do is take part in a local event and you will instantly qualify. It’s not an elitist competition, everyone is welcome and we look forward to celebrating this amazing sport with you in Barbados!”
6. Returning to the land, the festive season brings further opportunities to have a flutter with the Diamonds International Day at the Races. Taking place on Boxing Day, this annual event is a much-loved aspect of the Christmas season on the island. The Garrison Savannah racecourse is one of thoroughbred racing’s most prestigious tracks but the general ambience of the day is more relaxed and family-centric. Close to Bridgetown, this legendary course has been Barbados’ home of racing since 1845. The officers of the British Regiment stationed in Barbados favoured this spot to race their horses and perform parades for the island’s wealthiest residents. The Diamonds International Day is the final race day of the season and therefore leads to the biggest party making this event especially hot to trot.
7. If you’ve over indulged in rum or other Christmas spirits, Barbados offers a unique way to start the New Year. The Hash run is an amateur running event organised by a local group of runners known as the Barbados Hash House Harriers. Their annual Barbados event attracts more runners each year but anyone wishing to partake, even to walk the 3.5 mile route, is welcome. The biggest plus? The after party! The island really gets behind the event, providing support along the route and food for the party. Most runners cool off with a dip in the sea, so if you’ve swapped the run for a day at the beach you can still enjoy a front-row seat in the action.
Fly To Barbados With Virgin Atlantic
Virgin Atlantic delivers passengers to Barbados from the UK in around 9 hours. Flights operate daily from London Gatwick and weekly from Manchester throughout the year. From December 2017, a twice-weekly service will allow passengers to travel from London Heathrow, the only direct link to Barbados from this airport. When the London Heathrow service commences later this year, Virgin Atlantic will operate eleven flights per week to Barbados from three UK airports, giving you the ultimate flexibility to select a flight that works for you.
From the moment you step on board the Upper Class facilities and amenities are yours to enjoy and indulge in. Beginning with pre-flight Champagne, the Upper Class dining experience, quite literally, reaches new heights of luxury with entirely customisable menus, including Afternoon Tea and ‘grazing’ options suited to your personal tastes and preferences. There is Increased space, aisle access and a 40” personal screen to enjoy hours of up-to-date entertainment whilst the roomy flat bed and sleep suit are ready for when you’d rather enjoy some well-earned rest.
Passengers planning to take sports equipment such as golf clubs to Barbados can include their golf equipment in their baggage allowance. An example allowance includes one full set of fourteen clubs, a dozen balls and one pair of golf shoes for a maximum weight of 23kg.
To organise your luxury holiday to Barbados, or for further information about any of these wonderful events, please call one of our expert Travel Consultants on 01244 897 991.