With less than three weeks to go until the start of the BVI Spring Regatta and Sailing Festival, teams from several countries including Germany, The Netherlands, UK, Canada and USA will join local sailors at one of the most popular and friendly regattas in the Caribbean.
The international fleet will be hosted by Nanny Cay Resort and Marina on the idyllic island of Tortola and is home to the yachts during the week and where the sand-between-the-toes partying takes place at the Regatta Village each night.
The regatta attracts an eclectic mix of boats and crews, from first timers to regular racers and top professional teams too. Friday 3 April to Sunday 5 April sees three days of world-class racing action in the BVI Spring Regatta, but is preceded by the four-day Sailing Festival where teams will vie to break the record for the Nanny Cay Cup in the Round Tortola Race.
New this year is the Veuve Clicquot Island Invitational, a pursuit race to neighbouring Jost van Dyke, home of the world famous Foxy’s Bar, where teams will be welcomed with beach games, BBQ and the music legend of the island, Foxy himself. The lay day is a day to celebrate the maritime heritage of the British Virgin Islands with 100-year old Tortola sloops racing the VP Bank Tortola Sloop Challenge. That afternoon, registration opens for the BVI Spring Regatta with the traditional Mount Gay Rum Welcome Party.
In the build up to the 44th edition of the BVI Spring Regatta & Sailing Festival, we are introduced to a few of the boats and crews competing for the first time:-
Pearl’s of wisdom
Stefan Jentzsch’s all-carbon Germany flyer, the Carkeek 47, Black Pearl made its debut in the Rolex Middle Sea Race in October 2014 and recently competed in the RORC Caribbean 600. The BVI Spring Regatta is the third event for the boat whose core crew of international professional sailors includes high-profile, South African America’s Cup navigator, Marc Lagesse. “The crew is looking forward to this event as a fun addition to Black Pearl’s race calendar,” says Jentzch, the German owner who is a passionate sailor.
Oyster challenge for new racers
British engineering consultant, Neil Styler who now lives in Annapolis, USA, purchased his Oyster 49, Porthmeor two years ago and has been cruising the Leeward Islands since then. “We’ve chartered in the BVI numerous times and are familiar with the sailing conditions around the islands,” says Styler. “This is only my second regatta and the first for most of the crew, so we are very new to racing. Our goal is to finish in the top half of our class, plus to gain more experience racing on our boat. As well as the good racing, we are looking forward to the fun shoreside activities. Chartering, we always seemed to get into an unofficial competition with another boat heading our way, until one of us gave up. Having no excuse to chicken out will hopefully challenge our skills and make things more exciting.”
First Melges 32 season
Big Trouble, a Melges 32 is owned by Tom Elsen (Chicago), Paul Latour (Nashville) and Paul Quast (Minneapolis) whose home port is St Croix Yacht Club, USVI. They will be racing to help promote the Melges 32 class in the Caribbean and this will be their first season. “We are a Corinthian boat in a great, hugely competitive international fleet. This is our first season, both on the Melges 32 and racing it in the Caribbean. We are attracted to the regatta because of the warm weather, warm water and have a great boat, so look forward to racing with great competitors. My aim is to keep the rig and the crew out of the water as much as possible,” jokes Elsen.
A shining example
How many teenagers can you fit into a Grand Soleil 56? 12 to be precise! That’s the number of young sailors racing on board Shine, Giles Redpath’s British entry, racing with three families and a group of friends brought together for this year’s regatta. A member of the prestigious Royal Ocean Racing Club and Royal Thames Yacht Club and CEO of a solar farm development company, his boat was bought in 2013 and appropriately named Shine. He has many years of racing and cruising behind him, but this will be the first time at the Spring Regatta.
Representing Brighton Marina Yacht Club in East Sussex on the south coast of England will be two chartered Beneteau 31s, Olive, raced by Andrew Pitcher and Andrew Barraclough’s team on Sapphire. Kevin Turner explains, “We are a group of friends brought together through racing with Ian Ross who is sadly no longer with us, and by a love of sailing and having a fun time. As a group we have chartered boats and competed with varying success a couple of times in the King’s Cup Regatta, Phuket, Thailand as well as Royal Langkawi Yacht Club regattas in Malaysia. This time we thought we would try a regatta in another part of the world and as one member of the team had charter sailed in the BVIs before, we chose the BVI Spring Regatta. As there are 10 sailing members in the total group of 16, we decided to charter two smaller yachts and split the team into two groups of five and generate some competition between ourselves as well as racing other yachts in the Bareboat class.”
The BVI Spring Regatta & Sailing Festival starts on March 30 to April 05. All the latest news, images and video can be found on the BVI Spring Regatta web site.