Full brunt of the Atlantic
The large expanse of the North Atlantic lies just to the north of the British Virgin Islands and on this morning, BVI Spring Regatta competitors got a real taste of it. The sea state kicked up to two metres and the wind speed for the first start was 20+ knots when a vicious squall darkened the horizon in Sir Francis Drake Channel. Blinding rain, colder than the sea spray reduced visibility to just a few feet and had sailors scurrying for foul weather gear.
With wet sails, slippery decks and the big easterly breeze blowing squalls in off the Atlantic, the last day of racing at the BVI Spring Regatta got under way. However, conditions improved during the day with the squalls diminishing to allow the competitors to dry out in the fresh 15-20 knots of warm breeze and glimpse of sunshine through the broken cloud.
In Spinnaker Racing 1, Sergio Sagramoso's Puerto Rican J/122 Lazy Dog finished the regatta with a bullet and a third place to win the class. Debbie and Dave Clasen's Tartan 10 Windemon had another excellent day to finish top of Spinnaker Racing 2: "I have to say a big thank you to Nanny Cay Marina," said David Clasen dockside. "When we arrived we had a few problems with our boat and the marina staff sorted them out efficiently and with great enthusiasm. This allowed us to put in two days of solid practice, which helped us tweak the boat and allowed us to nail boat handling, especially starts and this really improved our performance."
Kevin Rowlette's BVI Olsen 30 Rushin Rowlette has had a tremendous battle with St. Croix Yacht Club's J/100 Bad Girl, skippered by Robert Armstrong. The duel was settled today with Rushin Rowlette taking third in Spinnaker 1&2 by a single point.
BVI Melges 32, INTAC, skippered by Mark Plaxton had an excellent end to the regatta in Spinnaker Racing 3, winning the class by a sound margin. Calling tactics on INTAC was Canadian Olympic and Volvo Ocean Racer, Richard Clarke: "What a great regatta, the team did a good job of setting up the boat for the conditions and that gave us the edge in boat speed that we needed. I have to say this is a great race track and I would say that the Race Committee did a good job nearly all of the time, personally I think it is fantastic to be able to use beautiful islands as windward marks, the BVI is a beautiful place."
In Performance Cruiser 1, Hamnett Hill's Canadian Marten 49 Defiance scored two more wins today to win the class by a big margin. Lucy and Christian Reynolds' well-campaigned Swan 51 Northern Child was second in class. Marcus Chollerton Brown, racing Global Yacht Racing's EH01, saved his best until last to snatch third place in the final race of the regatta.
In performance Cruiser 2, Harold Keating's J/95 Shamrock VII had a perfect score for the second day running to win the class by a big margin. Stanford Joines J/36 Paladin was second and a excellent performance by Diamonds Are Forever, crewed by Girls For Sail was rewarded with third in class.
Chuck Pessler's Team Island Water World Racing continued to dominate in the IC 24 Class ending the regatta with a perfect string of bullets. Tommy Kozyn's Grey Goose was runner up in class with Doug McLean's White Album taking third.
In Jib & Main 1, Frank Mavronicolas' Swan 57 Boonatsa revelled in the big breeze to win both of today's races to move up to third in class. Boonatsa's crew was bolstered today by several members of Pipe Dream, including skipper Chris Haycraft. Stephen Schmidt's Santa Cruz 70, Hotel California Too finished second in class, but the class winner by four points was Robert Beltrano's Swan 53 Nai'a.
Charlton & Bonanni's C&C 41 Red Stripe Reba was the winner in Jib & Main 2 by 10 points, owner Claude Bonanni commented dockside: "We have come second in class for the last two years so it is great to win this year, the crew have been fantastic and this victory is all down to great teamwork, especially in the lively conditions."
Last year's class winner, Keith LiGreci's Girasoli will be regretting a navigational error on the first day, but for that, Girasoli would have been pushing Red Stripe Riba all the way, but has to settle for second. Jim Hoelter's Alerion Express 33 Nymph has sailed consistently all week and the vintage beauty is well worthy of third in class.
Three teams from Holland occupy the podium for Bareboat 1. Rene Van Dop's Dutch Team Aquaholics sealed the class win with two bullets today. Nautical Ventures, skippered by Matthijs Mulder have posted top three results all regatta to claim second and Mark Saurens' Dutch Sailing Events was third.
In Bareboat 2, Peter Nielson's Merlin (Kief) won both of today's races to win the class by two points from Radboud Crul's all Dutch team on Dundee. John Pinheiro's American team The Whalers from New Bedford Yacht Club took third. Merlin (Kief) from Boston Yacht Club also take home a week long charter in the BVI in partnership with Sunsail and the honour of winning the International Yacht Club Challenge.
Tonight, the Regatta Village at Nanny Cay Marina will host the Spring Regatta Awards Ceremony. Dr The Honourable D Orlando Smith, OBE. Premier and Minister of Finance & Tourism will be the guest of honour, the prize giving will also be attended by a host of VIPs. Entertainment will include Moko Jumbies and music by The Last Resort.