Virgin Islands bonanza

St Thomas International Rolex Regatta and BVI Sailing Festival and Spring Regatta to combine once again

Friday October 31st 2008, Author: Linda Phillips, Location: United Kingdom
Virgin Islands Raceweek, a natural combination of the St. Thomas International Rolex Regatta, BVI Sailing Festival and BVI Spring Regatta, is back by popular demand. Given that the three events are back to back, March 27 - April 5, and happen within 12 miles of each other in the sunny Caribbean when the snow has not melted in many parts of the world, VI Raceweek is as luring to a sailor as any mythological siren. Add to the mix of racing and partying in the tropics, prizes for winning the IRC division of a week's holiday on St Thomas at the Frenchman's Cove Resort and the CSA division prize of an all inclusive week's stay at the Bitter End Yacht Club in the BVI, and it's no wonder that VI Raceweek is too tempting to pass up.

VI Raceweek kicks off with the St. Thomas International Rolex Regatta. The 36th running of the International Rolex Regatta is sure to build on its successes last year. With racing scheduled for Friday, March 27 through Sunday, March 29, the International Rolex Regatta is one of the most popular of several Caribbean sailing events that mixes long course sailing with windward/leeward formats. While it is part of the US-IRC Gulf Stream Series, the event also hosts classes for CSA (or "Caribbean Rule") racing as well as one-designs, beach cats and large multihulls.

Following the weekend of racing in St. Thomas, on Monday the fleet moves 12 miles east from Cowpet Bay in St. Thomas to Nanny Cay Marina in the BVI for the BVI Sailing Festival. This event is designed to be very relaxed and laid-back, creating a great filler between two power-hitter regattas. This low-pressure precursor to the BVI Spring Regatta starts in Nanny Cay with boats racing to Bitter End for the Bitter End Cup. Once at Bitter End, guests are entertained with cocktail parties, limbo contests, and layday activities, with participants choosing between those that are energetic or tranquil in style. The Sailing Festival wraps up on Thursday with the Nanny Cay Cup, which moves the fleet from Bitter End back to Nanny Cay.

Friday, April 3, competition heats up again when BVI Spring Regatta kicks off. Catering to a large spectrum of sailing enthusiasts with more options than a traditional smorgasbord in Sweden, organisers of the BVI Spring Regatta understand that not all sailors want the same type of racing experience and choices abound. Drake Channel is not only sprinkled heavily with race boats but also race areas, three to be exact.

Closest to the beach is the One Design area, hosting the IC 24s (modified J24s), Lasers and Beach Cats, Looking across the channel to the Southeast is the Cooper race area. Host to the traditional keelboat racers, this group will see both round the island racing as well as windward/leeward courses. And then, just to the west, for those who would rather race around islands than buoys, and want the choice as whether or not to carry a kite, there is the Norman race area.

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