On the final day of the BVI Spring Regatta and Sailing Festival 2014 in Tortola sunshine and 20-plus knot breeze welcomed participants. Three consecutive days of great racing made for an exciting weekend for competitors and the week-long festival drew more than 3,500 visitors to Nanny Cay.
'It gets really emotional by Sunday night because it takes an amazing amount of energy, time and patience each year, and so many people do so much to make it happen,' said Judy Petz, Regatta Director. 'I was really happy coming into this year's event with many new things in place. We built it so everyone - participants, visitors and locals - would have a great time, and I'm really confident that we succeeded in making that happen.'
On the race course, Tonnerre de Breskens 3 (Ker 46) ran away with the Racing 1 division securing wins in all seven races: 'The conditions were really good and you can't ask for better sailing,' said Tonnerre de Breskens 3 helmsman Paul Wilcox. 'The max wind we saw racing Saturday was probably 23 knots. So, you're not really on the edge, but if you do something a little bit wrong, your problems escalate quickly.'
'We try as best as we can to make sure the boat is going well all the time and make sure the systems are working well,' Wilcox continued. 'It's a really good boat and it has a good rating. It makes it easier for us. But, it's taken us four seasons to get the boat to be doing as well as it is. I think now it's probably the best the boat has ever been sailed - it's going really nicely.'
Team McFly - Quokka's Grand Soleil 43 held on for the win in the Racing two fleet. It was a narrow victory for Windemon (Tarton 10) on the SOL Course. The now Tortola-based yacht finished one point ahead of Boogaloo (Melges 32) to win the Racing 3 division.
'The first race was kind of breezy, and then it moderated through the second race. With our rating, we tend to do better when it's blowing. So, we were sweating it until someone came over and told us we did well,' said Windemon's Dave Clasen, who owns the boat with his wife, Debbie. The couple split their time between the Chicago area and Tortola. 'Our boat is 35 years old, and we were racing against a very good fleet. We couldn't do this without such an incredible crew - they made our jobs so easy.'
Spirit of Venus (Beneteau First 40.7) cruised to victory in the Performance Cruising 1 division on the SOL Course. Doug Baker and crew were first across the line in all six races of the regatta. The J/95 Shamrock VII secured the regatta win in the Performance Cruising 2 division.
Smile and Wave, one of three Melges 32s from Puerto Rico racing on the One Design Course, was consistently strong throughout the week and won the division. Also on the One Design Course, Tortola Express took two bullets in the final two of 12 races in the regatta to move ahead and secure the win in the IC 24 fleet.
The Whalers - Tortola Moon (Sunsail 4153) secured first in every race of the regatta in the Bareboat 2 division. FerryTale - Mary Jewell (Sunsail 515) nearly did the same in the Bareboat 1 division, with first in all but their sixth and final race of the weekend.
After tight racing throughout the weekend, the Jib and Main 1 division was won by Myett's Salona Express (Salona 44) on a tiebreak over Nai'a (Swan 53). Two Tortola skippers battled throughout the regatta in the Jib and Main 2 division - Keith LiGreci, skipper of Girasoli (Jeanneau 40) and Jon Charlton with Red Stripe - Reba (C&C 41 CB). The two yachts spilt the one-two slots for the day's two races on the Norman course, and Girasoli finished two points ahead for the overall division win.
Triple Jack, the Trimaran from Tortola, squeezed ahead of Soma (Formula 40) to win the Multihull 2 division. The two skippers - Richard Wooldridge and Nils Erickson - have been racing against each other on the two yachts for around seven years and swapped positions throughout the regatta.
'Today, we attacked and won the first start. In the second race of the day Soma fouled the windward mark. It's pretty difficult because if Soma has reaches, they win. If it's upwind-downwind, we stand more of a chance,' said Triple Jack's Wooldridge, who raced in his first BVI Spring Regatta in 1998. 'This is home turf, it's what we love. And, the courses are great - the race committee did a great job selecting them.
For Multihull 1s, Boss Lady II (Moorings 4600) finished on top after holding the lead throughout the weekend.
British Virgin Islands Premier Dr. the Honourable D. Orlando Smith and Governor Mr. Boyd McCleary honored winners at the sunset awards ceremony on the beach at Nanny Cay.
Youth Instructor, skippered by Andrew Waters, was unveiled as the winner of the Tortola Sloop Spring Challenge sponsored by VP Bank.
The International Yacht Club Challenge award went to John Pinheiro from the New Bedford Yacht Club. Pinheiro received a full week's charter provided by Sunsail.
Bob Beltrano's Swan 53 Nai'a was recognized with the Best Overall Swan award, presented by O'Neal Webster. The Chief Minister's Cup for the Best BVI Boat was presented to Tortola Express. Monique Putley was honored with the Guy Eldgridge Spirit and Enthusiasm Award.
Dates are set for the 2015 BVI Spring Regatta and Sailing Festival. The regatta returns to Nanny Cay March 30-April 5, 2015.