Sampling the West End
The BVI Spring Regatta today gave competitors the opportunity of experiencing the western end of the British Virgin Islands. Virtually all racing and cruising classes were sent through The Cut, the gap between Tortola and St John, plus there were a multitude of downwind starts, resulting in some fine action from the outset.
In Class 1, Bill Allcott's Farr STP65 Equation reigned supreme today scoring a hatrick of bullets to open up a four-point lead over Stefan Lehnert's Tripp 55 Passion 4C. With just one day left in the BVI Spring Regatta, Equation looks to have clinched the class win. Passion 4C sailed intelligently today and came close to overhauling their rivals in Race 5, but it will take a mini-miracle tomorrow to move Equation off pole position.
In Class 2, Willem Wester's Grand Soleil 46 Antilope was over eager at the start of racing today. Misjudging the downwind start, the Dutch team recovered well dousing their spinnaker and returning to restart to minimize the loss and it paid off, as Antilope managed to recover to clinch second place on corrected time. The first race of the day was a great example of how competitive the racing has been for Class 2; just 19 seconds separated the top three yachts. Antilope leads the class with RP37 Peake Yacht Services Slippery lying second, these two yachts had a great tussle as they passed Soper's Hole during the race. Michael Shlens' Farr 400 Blade lies third overall, but has finally put some points in the bank over their sistership Magnitude, skippered by Doug Baker.
In Class 3, El Ocaso stamped her authority on the class with three consecutive wins today and now lead the class by a healthy six points. Jaime Torres' First 40 Smile and Wave pushed them hard all day and came close to beating El Ocaso in the last race of the day, eventually losing out by just 10 seconds on corrected time. On Deck's First 40.7 Lancelot II had a consistent day securing third place on the leader board. In Class 3, two Melges 24s have been having a great duel; Budget Marine/Gill was invincible yesterday putting in a perfect score line. Andrea Scarabelli's team have been in fine form all season, but Henry Leonig's Fire Water sailed well today to give the local boat a chance of overhauling their St Maarten rivals tomorrow.
Class 5 looks like it could become a three horse race for the overall win. Kick em' Jenny, skippered by Ian Hope-Ross, is still in pole position, even though the team didn't win a single race today. Local favourite Kevin Rowlette steering Rushin' Rowlette raced with conviction today, narrowing the gap to the leader. Bernardo Gonzalez, steering Bonne Chance, is third going into the last day and the Puerto Rican team are still very much in contention. Peter Haycraft's Pipedream did not have a good start today as Chris Haycraft explains: "We had a very mixed day to say the least. We lost the main halyard just before the start of the first race, so we went back into Nanny Cay and got it replaced while we had a good lunch on the beach. We came out for the second race and I guess everyone else was tired because we just got away for a good win, so the day ended a lot better than it began!"
In Class 8, it was a memorable day for Bill Hirst's Freedom 44. Jack Dusty IV, which scored their first win of the regatta. However, Antonio Sanpere's St Croix team on Cayennita Grande had the best of today's racing scoring a first and a second to open up a two point lead over nearest rivals Thomas Mullen's Shamrock VII.
In Class 9, Keith Smith LiGreci's Jeanneau Sun Odyssy 40 Girasoli consolidate their slender overnight lead with two solid results today including a win in the last race of the day. Jon Charlton'S C&C 41 Team Red Stripe notched up two second place finishes to leapfrog Bill Bailey's Hughes 38 Second Nature. These three yachts are likely to fight it out for the class win tomorrow.
In Bareboat 1, Christine Joseph's Beneteau 50 Sexy and We Know It, continued their fine form to lead the class after today's racing by 7 points. Leonard Nekeman's Lucky Dutch fell back today, due to scoring an OCS in the first race of the day. This has meant that fellow Dutchman Tijmen van Elst steering BK Grondlogistiek moves up to second place with Justin Barton's Team Justice now in third, after scoring their first win of the regatta today.
In Bareboat 2, the new class leader is Bill Petersen and Peter Stazicker's Team Trolly Car. The previous leader, Neil Harvey's Acadia has now been called OCS in the very first race of the regatta relegating the team down the ranks. Vickie Downie's Avalon Racing holds second place overall and Rob Swain Sailing School's Perelandra moves up to third.
The Bareboat classes also host the International Yacht Club Challenge. Nine teams from yacht clubs all over the world are competing for a prize - a week's free charter from Sunsail - hopefully used by the winning team to defend their title. Second prize will be two round trip tickets from Cape Air. BK Grondlogistiek from the Dutch Yacht Club Ymuiden is currently in pole position for this accolade.
In the IC24 Class, Frits Bus' Coors Light virtually sealed the class win with three bullets today. However racing in the class was nowhere near as intense as yesterday's six-race marathon. The race officer selected two races today with a course across the channel to Norman Island, where the crew enjoyed the full hospitality of the legendary Willy T Bar before a return race to Nanny Cay!
Last night, by invitation of His Excellency the Governor, Boyd McCleary and wife Jenny McCleary held a reception at Governor's House for the BVI Spring Regatta & Sailing Festival, marking the 41st regatta.
Guests received a very warm BVI welcome as a magnificent steel band played to celebrate the 41st regatta. Governor McCleary thanked volunteers, sponsors and all those associated with the regatta, including press from around the world, hosted by the BVI Tourist Board.
At the reception, the BVI Spring Regatta & Sailing Festival was the first regatta in the Caribbean to be awarded a Gold Certificate for taking part in the Sailors for the Sea's Clean Regatta Program in its fourth year of participation. The Regatta has been fully committed to the program after being the first in the world to receive a Silver Certification after its first year.
Regatta Director, Judy Petz was overjoyed when accepting the highly prized Gold Certificate from Annie Brett, Program Lead and Dan Pingaro, CEO from Sailors for the Sea. Sailors for the Sea are an international organization that protects the sea and works with regattas and yacht clubs around the world to educate and promote best practices for the environment.
As it was Governor McCleary's birthday, guests at the reception sang a tuneful 'Happy Birthday' as he was also presented with one of the awards that will be awarded to this year's winners. Recycled glass from 15,000 bottles from previous regattas and designed locally by Glass Studio Project Apprentices, Cisne Benjamin and Pedro Samuel, a Green VI initiative from Director, Charlotte McDevitt.
"Two years ago when we realised we had the opportunity to make awards for competitors from recycled glass used at the regatta, we started a campaign using the slogan: "The drink you were holding last year may be the award you hold this year," says Judy Petz, Regatta Director.
After racing today, the highlight was the Ranifly Bikini swimwear fashion show held by the poolside at Nanny Cay. Calendar models from this 'teeny handmade bikini company' based in St John, US Virgin Islands, and some Regatta competitors, showed off a nautical collection specifically designed for the regatta as well as metallic, beachside and other swimwear collections to the delight of competitors. Owner Rani makes her swimwear out of natural bamboo and all are handmade in the Virgin Islands.
The party is sure to go late into the night as competitors are treated to a night of superb entertainment sponsored by Nagico with the international band Quito and the Edge from the BVI, playing on the stage in the Regatta Village from 8pm.