With warm Caribbean breezes, turquoise waters and brilliant sunshine, the stage was set for the first day of racing at the Rolex Swan Cup Caribbean hosted by the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda in Virgin Gorda. In Class A it was Swan 80 Selene which dominated, while Swan 53 Music was first in Class B.
The Race Committee, under the direction of PRO Peter Craig, took advantage of the conditions with a gently building breeze from the East to set the racing divisions off around Virgin Gorda. Starting off the entrance to North Sound, the 25nm course was straight forward – Necker Island to starboard, Round Rock on the Southern tip of Virgin Gorda to port before turning North, back up Drakes Passage to leave the Dog Islands to port, finishing in front of the entrance to North Sound.
Having had their appetite whetted for competition at the yesterday evening’s opening reception at the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda where Luca Lucheschi, Commercial Director of Nautor’s Swan, unveiled the latest addition to the exclusive silverware collection, the bespoke handcrafted Rolex Swan Cup Caribbean, competition on the start line was fierce.
The Swan 601 Stark Raving Mad placed second overall at the Rolex Swan Cup in Porto Cervo last September and had a second place finish today in the Maxi Class. The American team onboard is focused on improving upon their results in Porto Cervo this week. Tactician Tony Rey commented: “We came into the last run of the last race at the Rolex Swan Cup and we broke a spinnaker while we were in the winning position, so were not able to recover in time. Likewise we’re out for blood and hoping to win this one.”
“The Race Committee had a tough challenge because the wind was very shifty before the start. We took a shot that the left was going to be okay on the starting line and a big right shift came in so we were on the back foot from there. To be honest the Selene crew on the Swan 80 sailed really well, they rounded first and were gone very quickly,” added Rey. “The BVI is an absolutely spectacular place, a stunning place to sail. The wind in the Caribbean is always shifty and today was no exception. It was a fantastic day even if we weren’t able to win.”
Swan 53 Music of South Africa enjoyed a dominant win of five minutes on corrected time over second placed Swan 56 White Rhino in Class B IRC. Owner and helmsman, James Blakemore commented: “We had a very good start but there were few Maxis we had to keep out of the way of. We were the first in our Class to round the windward mark, which was very satisfactory. We then struggled a bit on the downwind run and a couple of boats made up ground on us, but we had a really fantastic beat up past Spanish Town towards the finish. It’s a wonderful achievement to get a first today.”
The cruising division enjoyed a shorter course of 14nm from the start off North Sound, round the Dog Islands to starboard and back to the finish off North Sound to bring them back to the dock ahead of the racing divisions.
Hosted by Oil Nut Bay, the social programme for the Swan owners and their crew moves for the evening to the stunning resort the fleet raced past earlier in the day. Caribbean chic is the theme for the Oil Nut Bay Beach Party and with live entertainment revelries are due to continue well into the night, a spectacular way to conclude an epic first day at the inaugural Rolex Swan Cup Caribbean.
Racing continues for all three divisions on Wednesday, with the first start scheduled for 1100.