With the fourth annual Nanny Cay Nations Cup just over two weeks away, a strong field of teams are lining up to attempt to dethrone US Virgin Islanders Peter and John Holmberg, last year's winners. An estimated 16-18 teams are currently expected representing the British Virgin Islands, US Virgin Islands, England, Ireland, Holland, USA, Canada, Antigua, Barbados and Puerto Rico.
Team Bitter End Holmberg rounds the windward mark in front of Team Canuk - Nanny Cay Nations Cup 2007
'Peter Holmberg and his USVI team will definitely be defending their title. This is great news for all concerned, there's nothing like having a world-class helmsman to set your sights on,' said Richard Wooldridge of Racing In Paradise, the event organisers.
After years of coaxing, Antigua will be attending for the first time this year. Bernie Wong and his fellow Antiguans will be a force to be reckoned with, they're a strong team and racked up some IC24 experience at the BVI Spring Regatta a few years ago.
Neil Burke who was here two years ago crewing for team Barbados will be returning this year with his own team. According to Richard, there may be a second Barbados team with newcomer Ian Mayers lining up crew.
Team BVI, the undefeated champions until last year, will look very different. Robbie Hirst will be teaming up with the BVI's top Optimist sailor, 15-year old Don Tae Hodge, at the helm and a boat full of young 'Team BVI' sailors. Alec Anderson, 17, who was at the helm of Team BVI last year, will be teaming up with other BVI sailors like Mike Hirst and Colin Rathbun.
There will be at least three English teams made up of local residents. Richard said: 'Andrew Waters will once again cobble together 'The Blighties', he rates the Nations Cup as his highlight of the racing season and has not missed one yet! Nanny Cay Marina will once again come up with the 'in house' team known as 'The Expats'. Relative newcomer to the BVI, Matthew Hood, is also ready to go with his miscellaneous bunch from 'South of the Watford gap' with the precise team name to follow!
'HIHO's Andy Morrell is on board as a sponsor this year. He has some old college chums helping him out with 'HIHO USA'. Another new BVI resident, Jon Charlton, will also be sailing for the USA. He has entered the 'Storm Trysail' team and has been seen out practicing on regular Friday night races.'
Yet to miss a Nanny Cay Nations Cup are the BVI's resident Canadians 'The Canuks'. Either Mark Plaxton or Royal BVI Yacht Club (RBVIYC) coach Chris Watters will be helming. They'll be battling for Canadian pride with a team called 'The Beavers' heading all the way to the BVI from Ontario. They are young skiff sailors and look good on paper according to Richard.
St Martin/St Maarten will once again be represented by two very competitive teams. Frits Bus will be leading Team Holland while Simon Manly returns with his 'Unified St Martin' team.
Two years ago Team Ireland came fourth with Racing In Paradise's Christian Kavanagh at the helm. This year RBVIYC's commodore, Clair Burke, has new instructor Will Ashley signed up. 'He doesn't sound very Irish but apparently he has an ancestral link to the emerald isle,' said Richard.
Unconfirmed at the moment is Chris Curreri and his USVI team and Fraito Lugo from Puerto Rico. Both are capable of winning the event. Fraito and his unchanged crew of nearly 20 years won virtually all of the IC24 regattas last season.
Richard concluded: 'The Nanny Cay Nations Cup is shaping up to be an absolute classic. There is still space for a few more teams but please be quick because entries have to be finalized by November 4th at the latest! National pride will be on the line, fortune favours the brave.'
The event uses the Tortola-based fleet of IC24s in a round-robin format. Teams representing any country, gathered from anywhere in the world, are welcome to compete as long as each team member satisfies ISAF nationality guidelines. Ideally the all-up crew weight should total around 800lbs with 850lbs being the upper limit. The entry fee of only $500 includes the charter of the IC24s equipped with evenly-matched custom event sails. The event will be capped at 20 teams.
During the weekend, teams will compete in a total 10 races but their time afloat will be matched with time ashore in what is arguably one of the best shore side locations in the Caribbean. With a perfect view of the race course just offshore, Racing in Paradise sets up tents with ample shade on Nanny Cay beach while the Royal BVI Yacht Club provides a mobile bar with food. Competitors and spectators alike can choose between the sea and the pool to cool off.
Nanny Cay, event sponsor and official home of the BVI IC24 fleet, is Tortola's flagship marina with 40-room hotel, new waterfront homes for purchase and rental and a full-service marina located within a natural basin on the south side of Tortola in the British Virgin Islands. For more information on Nanny Cay Marina and its services visit: www.nannycay.com
For more information on Racing In Paradise and the charter fleet of IC24s visit: www.racinginparadise.com