There are less than three weeks to go until the start of the 42nd BVI Spring Regatta and Sailing Festival and a truly international cast is preparing to take centre stage in the beautiful sailing grounds off Tortola, British Virgin Islands.
Beneteau First 42, Molto Bene enjoys some ’hot racing’ during the 2012 BVI Spring Regatta & Sailing Festival
The BVI Spring Regatta and Sailing Festival has always attracted sailors from around the world to take part and this year is no exception. Entries from at least twelve different nations will compete and include: Australia, Germany, USA, Netherlands, Sweden, UK, Luxembourg, Canada, Russia, Switzerland, British Virgin Islands and other Caribbean islands.
The allure of racing in some of the most scenic, varied and challenging waters on the planet is the reason that most competitors return each year. Uniquely, the BVI Spring Regatta race course takes place in the Atlantic Ocean, the Sir Francis Drake Channel and the Caribbean Sea.
Having competed in 2011, David Sampson's Alia 82, Aiyana (Mona Vale, AUS) will be back again with the largest boat in the fleet. Built in 2010, it will be hard to miss the 82 foot blue hull with its very sleek low profile lines:
'The courses are good and the sailing in and around the BVI is fantastic! We look forward to the nice weather, steady breeze and competitive racing with similar types of yachts. Because Aiyana is really a cruising yacht, we prefer to try and race against similar types of boats and that is why we target the super yacht events and the BVI Spring Regatta. Last time we raced a Swan 60 and a few other larger cruising boats with similar ratings, it was good fun. There is always a great atmosphere at Nanny Cay and the islands in general, so it's always enjoyable. The BVI are one of the best places I've been to for sailing and I have sailed professionally for 18 years,' says Sampson.
Richard Wesslund's J120, El Ocaso from Miami Florida (USA) had one of their best Caribbean racing seasons ever in 2012 and are hoping to repeat their class win at this year's BVI Spring regatta. Their highly competitive team get to vote on which regattas they attend each year and are looking forward to coming back to compete at the BVI Spring Regatta once more.
Puerto Rican champion and BVI fan, Jaime Torres has replaced his winning First 40 with a high performance Melges 32 and is looking forward to some top competition in the regatta with Smile and Wave, which includes a non-sanction event in the inaugural Virgin Islands Sailing Series for Melges 32s: 'I can't wait to sail against the world's best sailors in the world's best waters,' says Torres.
He'll be up against some tough competition in the form of BVI-based James Mark Plaxton's, Team INTAC. The highly successful team, led by USVI sailing legend and America's Cup champion, Peter Holmberg has a lot of silverware on their mantelpiece, including the current Budget Marine Match Racing Cup and top prize at the Heineken Regatta, The St. Maarten Cup for Most Worthy Performance Overall.
Jim Hoelter's Alerion Express 33, Nymph from Piedmont, near San Francisco, CA (USA) will compete as Penn's Landing Racing Team. The boat has competed three times in the regatta and all the crew (from USA, Germany and Denmark) raced together in the 2012 edition: 'We are hoping for a podium position this year. The BVI Spring Regatta is very well organised, great fun and the BVI is a great sailing venue,' says Hoelter.
Phil Lotz's Swan 42, Arethusa (Newport, RI, USA) will be one to watch. From the New York Yacht Club, the team will first compete in the Rolex Swan Cup Caribbean, Virgin Gorda from 11-15 March before heading down to Tortola and the Spring Regatta. At Quantum Key West earlier this year, the team achieved a place on the podium for third in class and in 2012 were runners-up in the Swan 42 US Nationals and in the previous year, won the Swan Caribbean Challenge and best American yacht in Antigua Sailing Week following their impressive Class 3 win.
Like Toronto-based Pasquale Leone racing a Beneteau First 36.7, Hammertime II, many competitors are looking forward to leaving behind a freezing cold winter and heading for the 'Warm Water, Hot Racing' promises of the BVI Spring Regatta and Sailing Festival.
Alice Martin's Painkiller Racing Team usually race a Sydney 38, complete with a huge flamingo mascot on the spinnaker, under the Chicago Yacht Club and Columbia Yacht Club. For the BVI Spring Regatta they will compete in the bareboat class racing a Beneteau 50.5:
'During the winter we seek warmer racing venues than Lake Michigan! We've heard the BVI Spring Regatta is challenging yet fun and are really looking forward to the week,' says Martin.
The team hope to top their third overall position achieved at last year's Heineken Regatta and already have a number of races under their belt in different boats, including Key West Race Week, Antigua Sailing Week, 2011 ORC World Championship, Croatia and the 2010 Newport-Bermuda Race:
'The Flamingo is our mascot and on our spinnakers in Chicago; the Painkiller our preferred drink! I became acquainted with the Painkiller cocktail when I cruised the BVI many years ago and it was when I was looking for a name for my third boat, a J-30 that it became Painkiller!' continues Martin.
From Dresden, Germany, Nikolaus Hartmann's Beneteau 50, Apollonia will compete in the regatta for the first time and signed up after deciding that they needed more of a challenge than just a cruising vacation:
Hartmann comments: 'We are a crew ranging from 50-70s in age and looking forward to competing in the regatta for the first time,' says Hartmann. 'Some of the crew haven't sailed before and others, such as owner, Gerhard Schmidt have sailed around the world, completing a three year circumnavigation in 2000. I have gained experience in racing over 30 years, crewing a Flying Dutchman in national and international competitions and I have skippered charter boats in the Med in around 10 races and not performing too badly! We know we can't win, but we are sure that we will be the most relaxed and the funniest crew in the fleet! We just hope we are not the last in our group! Let’s see what happens.'
The week long sailfest runs from 25-31 March and includes a newly formatted 3-day Sailing Festival (March 25-28), followed by the three-day BVI Spring Regatta starting on Friday 29th March. The Regatta includes the International Yacht Club Challenge and culminates in the awards ceremony for the overall prize winners on Easter, Sunday 31st March.
BVI Spring Regatta