Looking forward to BVI Spring Regatta
Each year, during the last week of March and the beginning of April, there is an annual migration of sailors to the British Virgin Islands and this year, being the fortieth anniversary of the event, even more are expected. Although many of the visitors fly into the BVI, the Caribbean based sailors are most likely to sail, with the trials and tribulations of the delivery being a true test of how much they want to take part in the event. These Caribbean sailors are the backbone of the event, with many of them competing since the early days of the regatta.
Starting with the first Titan, a Cal 2-30, a 30ft early 1970s style racer/cruiser, Puerto Rico's Tom Hill figures he has attended 35 of the 40 BVI Spring Regattas. Now Hill sports a 75ft Reichel Pugh carbon fibre maxi Titan XV and has come to BVI Spring Regatta with as many as 22 crew members, 60% being professional sailors. Hill has seen the regatta change over the years. "There used to be long races and attendance dropped. The format changed to short windward leewards and that was better but got boring. Now, there is a perfect set, races that go around an island or two and windward leewards. BVI Spring Regatta is a great regatta. They've got the right mix and the right balance." Hill went on to say that he appreciated that race management. "This regatta does a better job than most races I've been in. With separate start and finish lines, they start the races and once the big boats are finished one race, we start the next without having to wait for the smaller boats."
Sailing Piglet, a Newick 23' Teegull, a one-off trimaran with very little freeboard, Joe San Martin sails north from St. Croix to Nanny Cay, the event host. The wind and sea are often on the beam, and the trip can be exceptionally rollie, yet he makes the 45 mile wet-trek yearly. Based on his t-shirt collection, Joe figures that he has made the annual pilgrimage to the BVI Spring Regatta since 1994. He remembers fondly 2006 when 23ft Piglet passed 39ft Kelsall trimaran Triple Jack to windward in light air. In San Martin's understated manner, he related with a sly smile: "That doesn't happen very often."
Physician Frits Bus has been sailing west from St. Maartin since 1986 and usually competes in regattas in Puerto Rico, St. Thomas and the BVI Spring Regatta before heading home. The delivery west is easy and can be exciting surfing downwind but the 90 mile slog home upwind in his Melges 24 often is "not fun." Regardless, for the 40th celebration, Frits plans to enter two boats, either two Melges 24s, his own and one from the Dominican Republic, or if the second Melges is not available, he'd like to charter an IC24. About racing in the BVI, Frits says: "I like doing so many races in one day. It makes it interesting, which means more competition and fun on the race course for us."
Taking the second in class in 2007 and the top spot in 2008, Trinidadian Peter Peake returns with Storm, a hot Riechel Pugh 44. Trinidad to the BVI is about 400 miles and this year Peter is not only bringing Storm but also the 73' ketch Adriana as mothership. His entourage for the regatta is made up of the two boats and about 20 people and he plans to take advantage of being in the BVI cruising the territory before and after the regatta About the regatta, Peake remarked, "We're coming all this way and what we like to do is sail. We want either long races or lots of short races."
Regardless of the trip, either by sea or air, sailors flock to the BVI for the BVI Spring Regatta and Sailing Festival. For the 40th edition, the elements of the regatta that have led to it's success will be continued with a few additional twists that will provide more fun on and off the water for the sailors and other visitors.