With less than three months before the start of the BVI Spring Regatta and Sailing Festival, the sailing community is starting to buzz. Presented by Nanny Cay, the BVI Spring Regatta and Sailing Festival is the highlight of the Caribbean racing season, drawing about 160 boats ranging in size from 14 to 75 feet and sailors from almost every continent. The regatta is big enough to attract plenty of competitive boats but small enough to offer racing, entertainment and an infrastructure that caters to the sailors.
The action at the BVI Spring Regatta
Catering to a large spectrum of sailing enthusiasts with more options than a traditional smorgasbord in Sweden, organizers of the BVI Spring Regatta and Sailing Festival seem to understand that not all sailors want the same type of racing experience and have reached out to each of us providing not only for those who want to spend time bobbing in boats as fast as we can but also supporters who have come to enjoy the other delectable experiences the BVI has to offer.
This year the week-long event begins officially on March 31st with the BVI Sailing Festival registration. Sailing Festival is designed for those who want to enjoy the beauty of the water and the BVI in a leisurely fashion. This low-pressure precursor to the BVI Spring Regatta starts in Nanny Cay or, for those who also choose to participate in the VI Raceweek, St. Thomas, and goes to Bitter End. Once at Bitter End, guests are entertained with cocktail parties, limbo contests, dinner and, of course, awards.
The next day, April 2, is layday- Bitter End style. What's your pleasure? Do you want to race dinghies with your countrymen and teammates for the honor of the Nations Cup, take a trip to Anegada or The Baths, snorkel in pristine Necker Sound, spend the day at the Spa or just lay by the pool or beach? The choice is yours.
April 3 marks the race back to Nanny Cay from Bitter End, aptly named the 'Nanny Cay Cup', with a Mount Gay cocktail party and awards waiting at the other end. At this point, the Festival Village at Nanny Cay is ready to rumble. Food and clothing venders, the bar and live music provide a party atmosphere at Nanny Cay for the next four days and nights so there really is no need to go anywhere else.
Friday, April 4, the main event, BVI Spring Regatta begins. Drake Channel is not only sprinkled heavily with race boats but also race courses, three to be exact. Closest to the beach is the One Design Course. Here boats range from the one man 14 foot Lasers to the IC 24s, carrying four or five crew members each. Beach Cats also share this course and although the course may get the least attention in the press, some of the most competitive racing happens closest to the shore. In one race two years ago, eleven IC's finished within 32 seconds of each other leaving race officials scrambling to sort out the finishes.
Looking across the channel to the Southeast is the Cooper course. Host to the traditional keelboat racers, this course has welcomed the likes of Roy's Disney's sled Pyewacket, Roger Sturgeon's Transpac 52, Rosebud, and last year, the incredible Volvo Ocean Racer and winner of the most recent round the world race, ABN AMRO. This year, there will likely be seven classes, ranging in size from 24 to 75 feet, racing with professional crews as well as talented and enthusiastic amateurs vying for the gold, glory and bragging rights.
Just to the west, for those who would rather race around islands than buoys, and want the choice as whether or not to carry a spinnaker, there is the Norman course. This is the course that offers competitors more options and the opportunity to take the 'scenic route'. Although the size of the boats is very much like those on the Cooper course, this race area will appeal to those who want to race but also don't mind a little slower pace. With courses that take the competitors around the BVI barrier islands and down to Frenchman's Cay and back, competitors have a more scenic tour of the BVI than those racing on the Cooper course. Home of the bareboat fleet, Jib and Main, Performance Cruising, and the large multihulls, this race course is likely to be the most popular one in the channel.
BVI Spring Regatta and Sailing Festival has something for everyone. Whether you are a sailing professional, racing enthusiast, or just a hacker, there is action on the water that will suit your style or, if you really don't want to sail, just come for the great food, live music and take the time to see the BVI. It would be really hard to have a bad time.
Held annually on the first weekend of April, the BVI Spring Regatta & Sailing Festival is celebrating its 37th anniversary. It is now a seven-day event with two events back-to-back attracting an average of 150 yachts per year with eighty percent of the competitors from overseas. The BVI Spring Regatta is presented by Nanny Cay Resort and Marina; the BVI Tourist Board is a Platinum sponsor; Gold sponsors are Bitter End Yacht Club, CCT Global Communications, First Caribbean International Bank, Heineken, Main Sail, The Moorings, Mount Gay, and SOL.
Visitors can fly to the British Virgin Islands through San Juan, Puerto Rico with American Airlines, Caribbean Sun, Cape Air and LIAT. Flights are also available through Antigua and Barbados on Virgin Atlantic, British Airways and BWIA.
For full details on the BVI Spring Regatta & Sailing Festival including daily news, photos and complete results from the 2007 event, visit the official web site: http://www.bvispringregatta.org. For more information on the British Virgin Islands visit: http://www.bvitourism.com. For more information on Nanny Cay Marina visit: http://www.nannycay.com.