Press release - Barbados 50: A Sailing Odyssey

A transatlantic event to mark the 50th anniversary of Barbados Independence.

After a symbolic start in London in late July 2016 the rally will call at various ports in Spain and Portugal on its way south to the Canary Islands.

In recognition of the historic significance of this commemorative event, the rally will visit Senegal and the Gambia, two African nations which played an important role in the settling of the Caribbean Islands.

West Africa is rarely visited by cruising sailors and the stops in Senegal and Gambia will give participants in Barbados 50 a unique opportunity to enjoy the extensive water birds sanctuary in the Saloum River delta. The main attraction in neighbouring Gambia is to cruise the Gambia River, which is navigable for a long distance inland.

After calling at the Cape Verde Islands, the rally will cross the Atlantic to Barbados where the arrival of the Barbados 50 fleet is timed to coincide with the celebrations that will start on 30 November 2016, the 50th anniversary of Barbados Independence.

Sailors who are interested in joining this event have the choice of signing up for the entire route, or only its transatlantic section.

Barbados was visited by Spanish navigators in the late 15th century and first appears on a Spanish map from 1511. An English ship, the Olive Blossom, arrived in Barbados in 1625; its men took possession of the island in the name of King James I. Barbados quickly grew to become the third major English settlement in the Americas due to its favourable eastern location, which continues to be its prime attraction among sailors completing a transatlantic voyage. In 1966 Barbados became an independent state and member of the Commonwealth, retaining Queen Elizabeth II as head of state. It has a population of 278,000 people, mostly of African descent.

Barbados 50 –  Provisional route and schedule

Leg Start (2016) N. miles
London – Falmouth  (Pursuit1) Sunday 31 July 350
Falmouth – La Coruña Sunday 7 August 430
La Coruña – Porto Sunday 14 August 145
Porto – Lisbon Saturday 20 August 150
Lisbon – Arrecife (Lanzarote) Thursday 25 August             630
Option 1: Lanzarote layover*  1 – 26 September  
Option 2: Canaries Odyssey  4 – 25 September   
    Lanzarote – Morro Jable (Fuerteventura) Sunday 4 September 70
    Morro Jable – Las Palmas (Gran Canaria) Wednesday 7 September 60
    Las Palmas – Santa Cruz de Tenerife Sunday 11 September 55
    Tenerife – San Sebastian (La Gomera) Thursday 15 September 75
    La Gomera – Santa Cruz de La Palma Monday 19 September 55
    La Palma – Puerto de la Estaca (El Hierro) Saturday 25 September 50 
El Hierro – Dakar (Senegal) Wednesday 28 September 790
Lanzarote – Dakar Tuesday 27 September 880
[Cruise2 Senegal/Saloum River Delta**]     
Dakar – Banjul (Gambia) (Pursuit)  8-12 October   100
[Cruise Gambia River**]    
Banjul – Palmera (Sal – Cape Verde) Saturday 22 October   430
[Cruise Cape Verde Islands]    
Mindelo (São Vicente – Cape Verde) – Bridgetown (Barbados)  Thursday 10 November   2020

* Lanzarote layover:  Participants who prefer to either spend longer in Lanzarote to prepare the boat for the continuation of the voyage, or leave their boat and return home, may forego the three week cruise among the Canary Islands and join the African leg starting from Lanzarote on 27 September.

** Subject to safety considerations
1 Pursuit: boats start on their own and not in a group.
2 Cruise: Participants explore the area on their own.


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Barbados 50 is organised by Cornell Sailing Events, a British company led by Jimmy Cornell, specializing in transatlantic and round the world rallies for sailing yachts.

In the last 25 years Cornell Sailing Events and its predecessor World Cruising Club, have organized a number of successful sailing events commemorating historic events of international significance.

  • Europa 92 (1991-1992): the first round the world rally that marked the creation of the European Union in 1992.
  • America 500: a special transatlantic event held in 1992 to commemorate the 500th anniversary of the voyage of Christopher Columbus to America.
  • Hong Kong Challenge (1996-1997): a round the world race that started in London and marked the transfer of sovereignty of Hong Kong to China in 1997.
  • Expo 98 round the world rally (1997-1998): a special event to mark the 500th anniversary of the voyage of the Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama to India.
  • Millennium Odyssey (1998-2000): a round the world rally whose participants carried around the globe a symbolic flame of friendship and goodwill to celebrate the arrival of the new millennium.
  • Blue Planet Odyssey (2014-2017): a round the world rally whose aim is to raise awareness of climate change and visit some of the island nations that are already affected by its consequences.

For more information

Contact Doina Cornell, Event Coordinator

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