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BVI Spring Regatta Full Report

 

All photos by Todd VanSickle for BVI Spring Regatta.

Day One:

April 2, 2010, Nanny Cay, BVI: Although no complaints were heard, it was hard to be excited about the day’s weather conditions early on.  It was cloudy, rained threatened and it appeared as though what little wind there was might be sucked up by the clouds.  Oh ye of little faith.  Although the clouds hung over all morning, there was wind from the north ranging from a low of 5 to a high of about 20 and later in the day, the sun came shining brightly over the 103 boat fleet on the first day of racing the 2010 BVI Spring Regatta.
 
On each of the three racecourses, there was a short postponement before the first race to remember Guy Eldridge, owner of Luxury Girl, who died last weekend in a tragic accident.  Some of his crew, Liza Appleby, Phil Prevo, Brian Edmond and Guy Phoenix, explained that this weekend they have invited all the past crew members to race on the Beneteau 10R in Guy's honour. For this regatta, eleven or twelve different people will sail on the boat although through the years there have been many other crewmembers.  Brian explained, ”Some have moved away but a lot of the crew that he trained are now on other boats and sailing against us.  It is great and is a testimony to how generous he was in training people.”  Phil went on to say, “I guess we decided that it was a fitting memorial to him and his dedication to the sport of sailing,” Liza added, “And he would have wanted us to race; he would not have wanted us to just sit and watch.”
 
Only on the SOL Racing Course was there any rain of consequence and the fleet started the day soaking wet.  By the time the A class left the gates for the first race, the rain quit and before long, everyone and everything dried out.  In the two races today, Tom Hill’s Titan XV and Richard Oland’s Vela Veloce swapped spots scoring both a first and a second.  At one point during the second race, Vela Veloce was the only boat that managed to get their kite up on one of the reaches and as described by Bob Phillips who was driving a photo boat at the time, “They were cooking.  We were following them in our new power cat, Innovation, and they were doing 18.”
 
White Heat, owned by Michael Williamson, is finally showing her stuff.  With unremarkable finishes in the BVI Sailing Festival, some of us could not help and wonder what all the hype was about.  After today’s racing it is apparent.  In Racing B, after two races, the IRC champion hold’s the top spot with a first and second place finish, two points ahead of Oystercatcher XXVI.
 
Michael Williamson, who divides his time between England and New England, has sailed the BVI Spring Regatta for the past two years on a J/105. Last October, Williamson took delivery of his new Summit 40, White Heat. He raced her in the IRC East Coast Series and Key West Race Week, and then traveled to the Caribbean for the International Rolex Regatta and now BVI Spring Regatta. Next up are Antigua Sailing Week and then a transatlantic to compete on the racing circuit in the UK and Mediterranean.  "We like the windward-leewards," says captain, Luke Cross, from the UK. "That's the type of course the boat performs best in, rather than around the islands like we did in the second race today."
 
On the Norman course the day’s racing was off to a contentious start when a mark placement confused part of the fleet.  Although Frank Mavronicolas, sailing his Swan 57 Boonasta in Jib and Main A, remarked this morning that they would only be ‘cruising’, after finding the mark with less difficulty than the rest of the fleet and placing second in the first race, he told me, “I had this hot shot crew, what was I going to do with them.”
 
Placement of that same mark was much more of an issue for Performance Cruising and the jury decided it was in the class’ best interest to throw out that race and re-sail it.  As explained by Robin Tattersall, “We’re really sorry it was thrown out because it was our best race.  The mark was not exactly where it was drawn in the diagram but the wind was different.  By the time the next class came they had seen our class find the mark.  The bigger boats were the ones that suffered most because by they had gone further.”
 
Regardless of the shifty conditions and wear and tear on the mark layers as they moved the marks around on the one design course, the IC’s managed to get eight races in today.  The fleet is very tight at the top end with Faito Lugo’s Orion currently only three points ahead of Tortola’s Lime, owned by Fred Ruebeck.
 
Seventeen-year-old BVI sailor, DonTae' Hodge, is no stranger to sailing IC-24s. He's crewed aboard the modified J/24-design since he was a pre-teen and last year took first as a skipper in the Premier's Cup and third in the Nation's Cup, two events raced out of Tortola. What was different about sailing today is that Hodge met his crew for the first time this morning on the dock before the races started.   "I started communicating more as the day went on and I got my confidence and we all worked in sync together," says Hodge, who raced aboard Latitude 18.
 
This year, members of the press were invited to sail in the IC-24 fleet. Two journalists, San Francisco's Paige Brooks from Sailing Anarchy and Efrain Rivera from the Puerto Rico Tourism Company, were among Hodge's crew.  "This is the first time I've seen the boat," says Brooks. "I don't like the J/24, but I love the open cockpit in the IC24."  Rivera added, "It's my first time sailing an IC-24. DonTae' is an excellent driver, so it was fun. It's real hands on. You're in the whirlwind of everything. It's a great idea to put the press on these boats."
 
Hacksaws, straps and gorilla tape were what St. Croix's Joe San Martin, who skippers his Newick 23, Piglet, in the Multihull Class, used to repair the spinnaker bow sprit that broke in the day's first race. "It was pretty windy," says San Martin. "We buried the bow several times and recovered."  The repair, however, was sturdy enough to hold through the second race. "We were close to Richard (Wooldridge on Team Nanny Cay) at the second mark and I know we would have beat him if we could have flown our spinnaker. He better watch out tomorrow."   Team Nanny Cay leads the class by three points over Piglet.
 
Windsurfers must be fickle.  Supposedly there were a number who were going to race but this morning when it looked like there would be very little air, only two came out to play.  Owen Waters, winner of two races sailed today, looked worn out after racing but was still quite enthusiastic. “It looked grim this morning but the conditions were great.  We had everything between 5 and 17 knots of breeze.”
 
There are winners on and off the racecourses today at BVI Spring Regatta.  Gerald Kuehler, sailing in Bareboat B, was chosen randomly from all pre-registered boats.  As he registered for both the BVI Spring Regatta and Sailing Festival, his prize is $450 (the registration fee) refunded in the form of drink tickets.  Although he and his crew are currently in seventh place in their division they just may win the party.
 
It's party central at the BVI Spring Regatta Village tonight with music from CP4 and then out on the water tomorrow for the second day of the BVI Spring Regatta.

Day Two:

April 3, 2010, Nanny Cay, BVI:   It was one of those mornings when sails look more like hanging laundry than anything else.  Wind conditions improved as the second day of racing for the BVI Spring Regatta wore on. Presley King, sailing with Justin Barton on Justice, Bareboat B, is a local sage when it comes to predicting the winds in the BVI.  When asked on the dock this morning what he was looking for today, he replied, “Looking for a little more wind.  As soon as the moon raise up, it should get more.  The moon will raise up after 11.”   
 
Although I really didn’t understand what Presley was talking about, and not many people I consulted believed his prediction, he was right.  After a very slow start to the morning’s racing with very light air from the west, the breeze appeared to totally dry up and just when race officers were discussing the efficacy of continuing, the wind filled in from the north-east with a nice breeze, building to 15 knots by the middle of the afternoon.
 
In Racing A, Titan 15 finished the day with a flawless series of first place finishes over the day's three races, while Vela Veloce dutifully followed in second and Jim Grundy’s Bella Pita, a.k.a Scallywag Racing, third.
 
What did Jim Grundy, like best about the day was the racing? "The timing is perfect. You don't have to wait around until all the boats in the class finish to start another race. The race committee was starting races on one side and finishing boats on the other. You don't see that in many other regattas and that's important to us because we have a fast boat."
 
The Grundy's took delivery of Bella Pita last year, sailed her transatlantic and made land fall at the Bitter End Yacht Club in Virgin Gorda. This is the first year the boat has raced in the Spring Regatta. "The design brief is to do a three-year circumnavigation and sail in all the major races all over the world, including Sydney to Hobart."
 
 “Get two first places or if three races, three first places,” was Three Harkoms tactician/driver Vladimer Kulinichenko’s (Kuli’s) plan for today.   Sailing in Racer Cruiser E division, Three Harkoms won all three races.
 
Only thee points separate the top three boats in Racer/Cruiser F. Puerto Rico's Julio Reguero, who campaigned an International 2.4m for the Paralympic Games in 2008, leads on his J/105, Umakua. The BVI's Peter Haycraft's Pipedream is one point behind with his Sirena 38, Pipedream, and another two points separate them from St. Maarten's Ian Hope-Ross on his Beneteau First 36.7, Kick 'Em Jenny.
 
Not at the top of the heap in Racer Cruiser Class but first at the weather mark in the second race today, Pat Nolan's J/33, Boomerang, and her all women crew, were leading by a full minute. "It was great," says Nolan, who operates Sistership Sailing School in the BVI. Her crew are all former students.  "The competition in our class is very keen and we're largely inexperienced," says Katie Sharp, from northern Virginia. "Don't get me wrong; we like sailing with the fellas, but, it's also nice to kick the boy's butts too."
 
It is a tight race for the top spot in Bareboat A. Gerard Kraakman leads the pack in BVI Yacht Charters entry but only one point behind and tied for second place are both Christine Joseph with Toodles and Tony Mack in Re-Joyce.
 
Richard Starkey is skippering SHRM Financial Services, and sailing in Bareboat A.   Currently in seventh place, he and his crew are not experienced racers but they are out there staying out of the way and having fun.  “We are trying to be on the start line close to the right time, unsuccessfully up to now. We are trying hard but we’re not a very good crew; we are just learning.   We have style but no substance.”
 
Mike Kirk, crew member on the first place Performance Cruising Cayenita Grande, was all smiles this afternoon.  “The wind was great out there.  Good wind behind Norman Island, little williwaws all over the place, really challenging, kept the crew literally moving backwards and forwards all over the boat.  We worked and worked and worked, especially that first race.  We earned that one; we really earned it.”
 
Perhaps the tightest race out there this weekend is on the IC24 course.   Fred Ruebeck’s Team LIME is three points ahead of Fait Lugo on Orion.  The top spot keeps switching back and forth and it will be anyone’s guess who will be first in class on the podium tomorrow.
 
Late this afternoon, BVI Spring Regatta has its first ever Virgin Textiles Fashion Show.  Virgin Textiles has been a long time supporter of the regatta and this year really stepped up to the plate.  Models and MC, Aja Royle, along with organizers Alex Durante and Brodie, all of who are young people that have grown up in Tortola, put on a great show.
 
Tomorrow will be the last day of racing and as they say, ‘the fat lady will sing’. Racing will commence at 10AM on all three race areas and many classes may see upsets as point spreads are close.  Off the water, the day will begin for some with a 6:30 Sunrise Easter service on the beach. There will be two Easter egg hunts, one designed for the children mid-morning and one in the afternoon after racing for adults.  Before the awards, there will be entertainment by the Moka Jumbies, giant stilt walkers who are fabled to ward off evil spirits.  After the awards, it’s the Bounce DJ”s with their magic music and light show.  It promises to be a jam-packed day with plenty of excitement on and off the water.

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Day Three:

April 4, 2010, Nanny Cay, BVI:   Once again, it was a picture perfect day in the British Virgin Islands for the last day of racing of the BVI Spring Regatta, with sun and wind all day long.  There were a number of battles out on the race course which were fought to the very end providing plenty of action on the SOL, Norman and LIME One Design Race areas.
 
It was a given the Tom Hill, sailing Titan XV would take the top spot in Racing A.  With five firsts and two seconds, they ended the series three points ahead of Vela Veloce, Richard Oland’s Southern Cross 52.  No stranger to the winner’s circle, Tom is always gracious.  On stage he thanked the organization and said, “I look forward to sailing BVI every year.  I race up north in the rain and cold and I love coming to the BVI.”
 
Bad Girl, St. Croix's Rob Armstrong's J/100, sparred with the BVI's Dave West's Melges 32, Jurakan, all weekend in Racing C. "In the first race today," says Bad Girl trimmer, Carlos Skov, we definitely let Jurakan back in the game. Just one point separated us. The second race, we put our heads down, sailed well and ended up beating the two Melges in the last five minutes. It was like that all weekend. The level of competition has really come up and we think its because we all push each other."
 
Jurakan finished second in the class, while St. Maarten's Christopher Marshall's Melges 24, Budget Marine/Gill, ended third.
 
With only one point separating first through third place in Bareboat A, it’s not surprising the standings were turned upside down on the last day of racing.  Tony Mack’s second place finish with Re-Joyce put him at the front of the pack.  BVI Yacht Charters dropped from first to second and Toodles dropped from second to third.  Justin Barton’s first with Justice today was not enough to get him into the overall winners’ circle.
Over the three days of racing, each of the top four boats in the nine-boat class swapped the lead.
 
"We were tied for second on points going into the last race," says Mack, who has raced with friends and family in the BVI Spring Regatta for many years. "In the last race, we finished second and BVI Yacht Charters got a third. So, we beat them by scoring higher."  Mack and his crew have sailed off with the winner's trophy in the past. But this year, he says, "there's no question we had to work hard for it."
 
This year marks the debut of the International Yacht Club Challenge. Three teams, one representing the Royal BVI Yacht Club, one from Puerto Rico and one from Boston took the challenge and each raced new Jeanneau 42’s. The Puerto Rico club sailing on Pelican Pat not only won the Challenge, but also won the Bareboat B Class in which the yacht club boats raced with eleven other boats.
 
"It was great to be able to have a chance to win our class and win the Challenge," says Puerto Rico skipper, Gustavo Pinto.  The Puerto Rican team traded first place standings in the class with the Boston Yacht Club sailors throughout the weekend and were one point behind the Northeast U.S. team going into today's racing.
 
"We knew there was only one race today and we had to beat them, so we just stayed focused," says Pinto.   He adds, "We'll be back to defend our title next year. This is definitely the start of something good and has really raised the standard of the bareboat class."
 
Perelandra, a Beneteau Oceanis 361, from the Rob Swain Sailing School finished second in class, while the Boston Yacht Club finished third and second in the Yacht Club Challenge. The Royal BVI Yacht Club's entry, A Million Vacations, ended 9th in the class and third in the Challenge.
 
As usual, the most intense, nail-biting finish came from the IC 24 course. It came down to the final rounding of the leeward mark in the last of 21 races to determine the winner in the IC-24 class. "I saw the door open and I took it," says Puerto Rico's Fraito Lugo, about the maneuver that put the necessary three boats in-between his Orion and closest competitor, Team Lime, to win the class by one point.
 
Team Lime, sailed by the BVI's Colin Rathbun, had a three-point advantage going into the last race. "We had a horrible rounding and then a big shift," says Rathbun, who finished second by one point. "But, it was exciting and a lot of fun."
 
Intac, raced by the BVI's Mark Plaxton, finished third in the nine-boat class.
 
One of the most coveted prizes for the local sailors is the award  sponsored by the Premier for the Best BVI Boat.  This year it was awarded to Kevin Rowlette who took seven bullets in the Racing Class D’s seven race series. “The conditions favoured us, it’s Olson 30 weather, in the middle.  We’re scratch boat in our class which is favourable, we’re out sailing ahead of people, not having to duck, crash tack.  We don’t have to look out for other boats or worry about where you are on the start line, we just go where we need to be.  We had a great weekend last weekend at Rolex.  It made us feel good coming into it; we were optimistic, hoping we were going to do well.”
 
The BVI Spring Regatta is the last race in the CORT (Caribbean Ocean Racing Triangle) Series.  Winners of the series are as follows- Spinnaker A:
1. Bad Girl, 2. Soca, 3. Rushin Rowlette
Spinnaker B:  1. The Good, The Bad & The Ugly, 2. Magnificent 7
Performance Cruising:  1. Cayennita Grande, 2. Bonne Chance
Racer Cruiser:  1. Pipedream, 2. Shamrock
Jib & Main:  1. Hotel California, 2. Mary Ellen
IC24:  1. Lime

For complete results, go to http://bvisr.result.vg/

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