Getting in the Swing and Sail of Barbados’ Classic Sports Life

Sailing at the Mt. Gay Rum Regatta: courtesy – Barbados Tourism Authority

From sailing regattas to golf, cricket and polo — Barbados represents the most diverse Caribbean destination you can still experience for the traditional British West Indian sporting scene. Some of the sport is seasonal, while others are year-round – but whenever you happen to be on Barbados, you are able to find one of these sports to participate in or watch. Annual matches, tournaments and regatta all form a very central dimension of this island’s enduring British legacy, and many Barbadians (Bajans) are avid followers of at least one of these active sport legacies. If planning a visit to Barbados, make sure to participate in or watch one of these enduring and popular activities:

  • Sailing – The major sailing event of the year takes place in Carlisle Bay and down the south coast with the annual Mount Gay/Boatyard Regatta each May. Overlooking Carlisle Bay are the Barbados Yacht Club and the Boatyard, which are the centers for the social events surrounding this Regatta. While you can watch the racing action from Carlisle Bay, you can also view it from the new Boardwalk and as far away as Oistins fishing village, also located on the south coast. Even if you’re not competing first-hand in this event, here you can get up even closer on the spectators’ boat provided by the organizers. Check in at the Barbados Yacht Club’s own website for more details on sailing and events on Barbados for the year ahead.

    Cricket at Kensington Oval, Barbados: courtesy – Barbados Tourism Authority
  • Cricket – The centerpoint for this most British of sports is at the Kensington Oval. While a new generation of cricket has also made its appearance here in the form of Twenty20 cricket, you will find all kinds of cricket enthusiasts attending.  The sport has been played on these grounds for over a century – a match here is a real chance to observe Bajan life today with spectators on-hand from every walk of island society. Even if you can’t make it to a test match at Kensington Oval, make time to visit the outstanding Crickets Legends of Barbados Museum. Located on Fontabelle at Herbert House, site of the current Cricket Legends of Barbados store, the museum features historic West Indian cricket memorabilia. With interactive information kiosks aimed primarily at the youth, they can learn and see first-hand the talents of the West Indian cricket greats. Of course, the museum is for cricket fans of all ages.

  • Golf – For those who want to golf while vacationing in the eastern Caribbean, Barbados is certainly a prime location.  Whether you plan a golf visit around one of the island’s big annual events or come just to play on one of the many legendary courses here, you come away with a first-class experience of West Indian golfing at its finest. The Barbados Open is the leading local competition, staged by the Barbados Golf Association typically each June and taking place alternatively between the Barbados Golf Club and Royal Westmoreland. But there’s plenty else on the year’s golf calendar on the island. One of the most popular is the annual Sir Garfield Sobers Festival of Golf in May is a four-day tournament. Lured by the fine courses, hospitality, and prospect of great weather, the festival attracts players from all over the world. Golfers compete in teams of four and there is also a ladies’ competition. The festival is hosted and compared by Sir Garfield Sobers, the legendary Barbadian cricketer. And of course, part of the overall experience is the stay at such world-class properties as Sandy Lane on the island’s west coast, which hosts its own Sandy Lane Charity Classic.

    Polo play on a Barbados club field. courtesy – Barbados Tourism Authority
  • Polo – Even if you only attend as a spectator, the polo life is said to be addictive once it has been played or even just observed – witness the legions of faithful fans that turn up at the several well-established Barbados polo tournaments. Dating back to the late nineteenth century when British cavalry officers introduced the sport from their time spent in the Far East, polo took hold to become a staple of local and visiting international society.   Dating from the earliest times the sport was played locally, the Barbados Polo Club at its present site at Holder’s Hill in St. James  continues to be a venue for weekly chukkas, and serves as island host for many overseas clubs at international tournaments here.  Nowadays, the polo season’s international schedule runs from late December into early May and is attended by thousands of fans at the four major polo centers.  Some of the major tournaments are week-long affairs which often feature some of the top international polo players and teams – while also bringing along celebrities to watch and enjoy the post-match social events.  Other club locations of scheduled polo games  are at Lion Castle Polo Estate,  the Clifton Polo Club,  the Waterhall Polo Club, and the Apes Hill Club.

 

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About the author: Hal Peat

Hal Peat is a travel writer who has covered various topics ranging from adventure and active experience, luxury, lifestyle, festivals and personalities in both print and online media over the past two decades. His work spans points of interest and destinations within Europe and North America but nowadays focuses primarily on the Caribbean region including Central America.

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