by Louay Habib
The BVI Spring Regatta and Sailing Festival 42nd edition was an absolute classic overall. Attracting yachts from all over the Caribbean islands and the rest of the world, the biggest sporting event in the British Virgin Islands is renowned for a spectacular racecourse and a great party atmosphere ashore.
2013 BVI Spring Regatta & Sailing Festival
Event director, Judy Petz welcomed the sailors and crew to the event and highlighted the tremendous support of the sponsors and businesses who have made the regatta such a great success. 'We are delighted that the local businesses have embraced the regatta and their support is much appreciated. Everyone has worked together to create a regatta that is fun for all. We want to encourage sailors from other Caribbean islands and the rest of the world to come and see what our beautiful islands have to offer.'
The BVI Sailing Festival
Nanny Cay Cup
The racing programme kicked off with a Round Tortola Race for the Nanny Cay Cup. Peter Corr's Alia 82, Aiyana smashed the monohull record by nearly half an hour. Setting a new record of 3 hours, 29 minutes and 44 seconds for the 37-mile run around Tortola.
Dockside, Peter Corr was delighted to hear that Nanny Cay Resort & Marina had put up a fabulous prize for a record run. Dinner for 15 people and a Jeroboam of Champagne at Peg Legs Restaurant
'Fantastic! We have 15 on board and they cost a small fortune to feed!' Joked Peter. 'I would like to say a big thank you to Nanny Cay and I have to say that I have sailed all over the world but I love coming back to Tortola, the scenery is just beautiful. This is my third trip to the BVI Spring Regatta & Sailing Festival and it definitely won't be the last.'
Caribbean Insurers Island Invitational Race to Norman Island
Bright sunshine and a gentle breeze provided sublime conditions for the pursuit race style start with faster boats chasing down earlier starters in a game of cat and mouse around the beautiful islands, south of Tortola finishing at Norman Island.
In the Classic Class, the beautiful vintage sloop, The Blue Peter, skippered by Briton, Mathew Barker was the victor. The Blue Peter skipper, Mathew Barker has been renovating the boat for many years. 'We crossed the Atlantic in Blue Peter taking part in a classic race from Cascais to Barbados and we plan to go to several Caribbean regattas, the next stop will be St.Barths, before we go onto Antigua.'
The BVI Sailing Festival concluded with a lay day with all sorts of fun in the sun provided for by the event organizers but eight teams took part in the Sol Optimist Challenge held off the beach at Nanny Cay Marina. A relay race with teams of three was organized by the Royal BVI Yacht Club to showcase their youth programme funded by Sol. In the final heat the winning team was Rayne Duff (Racer), Richard Wooldridge (Adult) and William Dawson (Beginner).
The BVI Spring Regatta
Three days of world-class racing action and partying under the stars with excellent live music at Nanny Cay Marina was the format and the regatta proved one of the most exciting for many years. After calm conditions on the first day, the second two days had extremely windy conditions with 20 knots of breeze and a significant sea state churning the Sir Francis Drake Channel into a high speed, action packed race arena.
In Spinnaker Racing 1, Sergio Sagramoso's Puerto Rican J/122, Lazy Dog finished the regatta with a bullet and a third place to win the class. Whilst from Chicago, Debbie and Dave Clasen's Tartan 10, Windemon had an excellent regatta to finish top of Spinnaker Racing 2:
David Clasen was elated after the win. 'Two days of solid practice helped us tweak the boat and allowed us to nail boat handling, especially starts and this really improved our performance.'
BVI Melges 32, INTAC skippered by Mark Plaxton scored five wins in a ten race series in Spinnaker Racing 3, winning the class by a sound margin and was also awarded best BVI boat of the regatta. Calling tactics on INTAC was Canadian Olympic and Volvo Ocean Racer, Richard Clarke:
'Mark really knows these waters and the team did a good job of setting up the boat for the conditions and that gave us the edge in boat speed that we needed. I have to say this is a great race track and I would say that the Race Committee did a good job nearly all of the time, personally I think it is fantastic to be able to use beautiful islands as windward marks, the BVI is a beautiful place.'
In Performance Cruiser 1, Hamnett Hill's Canadian Marten 49, Defiance, scored five wins out of six races today to win the class by a big margin. The surfing conditions and reaching courses suited the team over their heavier displacement rivals
In performance Cruiser 2, Harold Keating's J/95, Shamrock VII had a perfect score for the last two days to win the class by a big margin. Stanford Joines J/36, Paladin was second, the schoolteacher from St. Croix had pupils on board from St. Croix Central High School with an average age of just 14.
Chuck Pessler's Team Island Water World Racing from St. Thomas dominated in the IC 24 Class ending the regatta with a perfect string of bullets. Tommy Kozyn's Grey Goose was runner up in class with Doug McLean's White Album taking third.
Charlton & Bonanni's C&C 41, Red Stripe Reba was the winner in Jib & Main 2 by ten points, owner Claude Bonanni commented dockside:
'We have come second in class for the last two years so it is great to win this year, the crew have been fantastic and this victory is all down to great teamwork, especially in the lively conditions.'
Three teams from Holland occupy the podium for Bareboat 1. Rene Van Dop's Dutch Team Aquaholics sealed the class win but Rene Van Drop said winning wasn't that important. 'We are a group of friends who come over from Holland to enjoy sailing in the Caribbean and we have absolutely loved coming to these beautiful islands, everybody has been so friendly, it just doesn't get better. Especially as it is freezing cold in Holland right now.'
In Bareboat 2, Peter Nielson's Merlin Kief won the class by two points from Radboud Crul's all Dutch team on Dundee. John Pinheiro's American team, The Whalers from New Bedford Yacht Club took third.
The Regatta Village at Nanny Cay Marina hosted the BVI Spring Regatta Awards Ceremony. Dr. the Honourable D. Orlando Smith, OBE. Premier and Minister of Finance & Tourism was the guest of honour along with representatives from all top sponsors. Dr. Smith presented the Best BVI boat award to Mark Plaxton's team on INTAC. Chief Judge, Tom Rinda accepted the Guy Eldridge Award for Spirit and Enthusiasm, awarded to Arthur J, 'Tuna' Wullschleger posthumously.
During this year's regatta, the BVI Spring Regatta & Sailing Festival had the honour of being acknowledged the first Carbon Neutral regatta on the planet, awarded by Sailors for the Sea along as their highest Gold level certificate for the Clean Regatta Program.
Save the date for the 2014 BVI Spring Regatta - 31 March to 6 April 2014.