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A NICE LAY

BVI SPRING REGATTA 07 – Visit the Nanny Cay Marina in the month of April and you’ll find it positively buzzing.  Not that it isn’t normally, you understand, it’s just that the level of activity is even more intense than usual.  Amongst the chink, plink, plinks of halyards striking masts you’ll hear the scratching of sandpaper running along the bottoms of dozens of hulls as they are cleaned for speed.

You’ll see yards of brightly coloured bunting flapping in the breeze, and the aromas of fresh paint will mingle with those of freshly cut grass and the tang of the sea air.  People will be scurrying to and fro, the importance of purpose etched deep into their faces but not quite covering the general sense of excitement.  And the reason for all this activity?  Why, it’s only the largest single event in the BVI calendar, the BVI Spring Regatta.
2007 marks the 36th anniversary of this exciting, well respected international event, and it takes place from April 26th to April 1st.  It follows on from an almost perfect event last year, so there is much pressure on the organizers to equal, if not better the quality of racing and entertainment on offer.  Billed as ‘…two great events in one, the BVI Spring Regatta & Sailing Festival starts on Monday, April 26, with a welcome party at Nanny Cay Marina. Three days of destination cruising and racing follow, leading up to the main three-day regatta starting on Friday, April 30,’ this year will once again attract more than 150 boats, and we can look forward to seeing some of the big names out on course.

“We are expecting Volvo Ocean Race winner, ABN Amro 1; last year’s Heineken victor, Titan 12; the 70’Swan The Blue Pearl; and there’s a strong possibility we’ll see the 70’Turbo sloop Renegade,” says Judy Petz, Director of the Royal BVI Yacht Club and the Spring Regatta.  “They’ll be bringing a lot of glitz to the event and we’re delighted to know that our marketing efforts are guaranteeing a world class competition.  Our high-calibre international judges, exciting racing circuits and top notch racing attract serious race goers from across the globe.  At the end of the day, though, it shouldn’t be forgotten that there’s also a lot of fun to be had, too.”

The BVI Spring Regatta is part of the Caribbean Ocean Racing Triangle (CORT) and the Caribbean Big Boat Series (CBBS).  The CORT series is comprised of the St. Croix International Regatta, the Culebra Heineken Regatta and the BVI Spring Regatta.  The CBBS kicks off with the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta and concludes with Rolex Antigua Sailing Week.  So, the big name boys face some stiff competition from the well-practiced local/Caribbean contingent, too: Pipedream, Crash Test Dummies, Mistress Quickly and Chippewa have all been racking up points and honing their performances in their respective classes.  And what about those invincible Hirst boys?  Well, Seahawk is looking pretty hot, too.  

“If you are a die-hard racing sailor,” says Judy Petz, “and wanted to come to the Caribbean in April when it’s still pretty cold up north, you could actually do three races in a week, if you went to the Rolex in St. Thomas, did the BVI Sailing Festival and then raced the Spring Regatta.”

There have been a few changes to the competition courses for this year, with judges drawing up a racing course, a cruising course and a one-design course, to be sailed in IC24s, Lasers and beach cats. The boardsailing event is out for this year’s programme, but new in is the attempt to include members of the racing crews on the protest committee—to bring a competitor’s perspective to the process and, at the same time, to allow competitors to learn how the committee works. Long-term, the goal is to create a group of experienced judges throughout the Caribbean.

All credit to the organizers who have been working hard, in conjunction with the BVI Tourist Board, to promote the event—with particular focus on the bareboat/cruising divisions—to audiences in Europe.  There will be teams from the UK and Italy, and more than a dozen crews are expected from Holland.

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All this activity, of course, has an enormous impact on the BVI economy.  With crews, support personnel, media and race followers to accommodate, “We book the island—the restaurants, the hotels, vacation villas, taxi services, local bands and catering services, and much, much more” said Ms. Petz. “Our hosts, Nanny Cay, and our sponsors—Bitter End Yacht Club, Heineken, First Caribbean, CCT Global Communications —lay on a fantastic feast of entertainment after each day’s racing.  We encourage local businesses to come and be part of the Regatta Village and really show our guests what sailing in the BVI is all about.”

The Spring Regatta is the largest single event in the BVI and as such it needs many willing hands to make it work. Volunteers are needed for all kinds of activities: bar tending, committee boat, setting up the village, setting up the boats and many, many other tasks. Volunteers are needed Thursday through Sunday from 4pm until midnight to help with activities in the village.

Can you please help?

Please contact Judy Petz by E-mail at judy@bvispringregatta.org

photos Armando Jenik: These and other photos of this year’s event will be available for sale on www.yachtshotsbvi.com and at the regatta village in Nanny Cay.

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