The atmosphere is crackling with excitement on the eve of racing at the 40th Anniversary BVI Spring Regatta and Sailing Festival (March 28-April 3, 2011).
The race village is open, boats and sailors are here, and everyone is psyched for what promises to be three brilliant days of racing on the Sir Francis Drake Channel. Just poll anyone walking around Tortola’s beautiful Nanny Cay Resort and Marina—the regatta’s base—and their comments are the same: It’s like summer camp for adults, sans chaperones. For sailors competing in the inaugural Gill BVI International Match Racing Championship (March 30 and 31), today determined all.
Peter Holmberg, of Olympic and America’s Cup fame, proved untouchable, beating out the five other remaining skippers (down from an original line-up of eight) for top honors. 'Match racing is a fantastic aspect of our sport,' said Holmberg. 'I commend the BVI Spring Regatta for adding this event to their race week.' Holmberg’s reward is an invitation to the Chicago Match Racing Center’s Grade-Two event, to be held in the Windy City this August.
As the match racers were dialing-up, sailors competing in the 21-mile Nanny Cay Cup were easing their sheets and hoisting their off-the-breeze wardrobe. After all, this joy ride, which started off of the Bitter End Yacht Club on nearby Virgin Gorda, was their payback for sailing to weather during Tuesday’s Bitter End Cup Race. 'We had a great time, but we didn’t do so well,' admitted Richard Kellett, captain of Sir Richard Branson’s 105-foot Necker Belle, the largest multi-hull to have ever competed in either the BVI Sailing Festival or the Spring Regatta. 'We ripped the spinnaker on the first hoist, so we brought it down, did a quick repair and went to put it back up, but it was twisted in the sock. But, everyone had fun, which is the main thing.'
The monohulls also had a hoot, enjoying the primo Caribbean conditions. 'We had a good run, plenty of tight reaching, said Brendan Marshall, boat captain of Phil Lotz’s CS Swan 42, Arethusa, about today’s 21-mile Nanny Cay Cup. 'We were back here in about two hours.' But when queried about this weekend’s racing on the SOL course, the conversation turned more serious. Marshall points to Antilope, a Grand Soleil 43 skippered by Volvo Ocean Race legend Bouwe Bekking, as their direct opponent. 'We’ll have a lot of competition, that’s for sure.'
Arethusa isn’t alone when it comes to tight racing. 122 boats have entered this year’s event, making the BVI Spring Regatta the Caribbean’s second biggest race. 'We’ve been coming to this event for probably ten years, but this is the first year that we’ll be sailing my boat,' said Fernando Mora, skipper of the CS40, Fresh Air, with a smile. Regardless of whether the yacht or her crews are old salts or first-timers, everyone can expect three days of superb sailboat racing—chaperones not included. www.bvispringregatta.org
for today's complete results