40th Annual BVI Spring Regatta and Sailing Festival (March 28-April 3, 2011).
Perfect sun and breezes as the sailors are amassing on the eve of the race start. The atmosphere is full of anticipation - the starting guns commence firing tomorrow at 1000 hours, local time, for the start of the Sailing Festival’s annual Bitter End Cup.
This 21-mile upwind course starts off of Tortola’s Nanny Cay Resort—the event’s home base—and brings the fleet of 40 boats northwest through the Sir Francis Drake Channel to the finishing line off of the Bitter End Yacht Club (BEYC), situated on nearby Virgin Gorda. Once there, sailors can relax, socialize and sail the BEYC’s dinghy and beach-cat fleet on Wednesday’s lay day. During Thursday’s Nanny Cay Cup the fleet will ease their sheets and retrace their wake, sailing a glorious downhill run back to Nanny Cay and the start of the annual Mount Gay Welcome Party.
While the bigger boats are racing to the BEYC and back, match racers will be the stars here at Nanny Cay. To celebrate our 40th anniversary, the BVI Spring Regatta and Sailing Festival and Gill North America have partnered to produce the inaugural Gill BVI International Match Race Championships, a Grade Three match-racing event.
This event will be sailed in IC 24s (modified J/24s) just off of Nanny Cay, giving spectators an impressive view of one-on-one pre-start wind-ups, tacking duals and other good-natured match-racing tomfoolery. The winner of this prestigious event receives an automatic invitation to the Chicago Match Racing Center’s Grade Two event (August, 2011), as well as bragging rights at the beachside bar.
Things get serious on Friday (April 1) at 1000 hours when the guns for the 40th Anniversary BVI Spring Regatta begin sounding. Some 140 boats will be racing on three different courses, maximizing sailing and minimizing turn-around times for all classes. On the SOL course, the more ambitious boats will showcase their gybe-on-a-dime skills; on the One Design course, IC24s will riffle through as many windward-leewards—plus a few surprises—as they can handle, and on the Norman course, the 'more civilized' white-sail division will feature a variety of scenic courses that will take the fleet around nearby rocks, islands and marks.
According to Bob Phillips, the BVI Spring Regatta Chairman, this year’s fleet is especially hot. On the SOL course, look for some great results from Antilope, a Grand Soleil 43 skippered by Volvo Ocean Race legend Bouwe Bekking, which won straight bullets at last weekend’s Rolex International Regatta.
Also likely to be slippery are Phillip Lotz’s CS Swan 42, Arethusa, Peter Haycraft’s Sirena 38, Pipedream, Ian Hope-Ross’ Beneteau First 36.7, Kick ‘em Jenny, Bill Alcott’s chartered Swan 601, Aquarius, and Luis Juarbe’s Henderson 30, Soca. Haycraft, it should be noted, is the only attending skipper with the distinction of having sailed in all 40 Anniversary BVI Spring Regatta and Sailing Festivals. www.bvispringregatta.org