Champagne sailing on the final day of the BVI Spring Regatta & Sailing Festival ©Alastair Abrehart
Champagne sailing on the final day of 49th BVI Spring Regatta
Conditions could not have been more perfect for the final day of racing in the 49th BVI Spring Regatta & Sailing Festival. Sunny blue skies, breeze in the mid-teens, and temperatures in the low 80s. Comprising 64 islands, the BVI is always an interesting and challenging place to sail, from the protected waters of the Sir Francis Drake Channel, to the outer islands, with numerous natural marks which offer multiple possibilities to mix up the racing, as some seventy teams who participated in this year's edition can attest. And the winners are...
It was victory for Victor Wild, owner/skipper of the beautiful Botin 52 FOX, as he took five bullets over three days of racing for a clean sweep of CSA-1. Wild has thoroughly enjoyed his first time racing in the BVI. "The warm and welcoming people here has been incredible, the place itself – we see cliffs that make me want to go back to a geology book to find out where they came from," Wild said. "It's just gorgeous, every island we go around is more beautiful than the one before, this is by far the beautiful place I have ever sailed. It's been a wonderful experience in a wonderful place with wonderful people."
Also racing in CSA-1, Tschuss, the FAST40+, slipped into third place after a great battle with OMII, the Swan 58 owned/helmed by Shahid Hamid. "The Swan sailed really well today and deserved to beat us on corrected time, we enjoyed their competition!" Christian Zugel, Tschuss' owner/driver said. "We had great racing the past two days especially as this boat really flies in the breeze, and the Round Tortola race was fantastic, surfing down the waves was so much fun. It's been a great regatta."
Greg Slyngstad, owner/driver of Fujin, the Bieker 53 racing in Offshore Multihull finished first in class. "The first two days were really heavy air and that's when this boat really does well," Slyngstad said. "Today was lighter so we took two third places – the boat's got a relatively short rig and it just likes lots of breeze. We've had a blast, it's a great regatta and for the multihulls its unique in that we get to dock together and socialize – most places we're spread out, anchored out, it's great being together."
In CSA-2, the Cape 31 Arabella, took first overall. Niall Dowling who owns the boat with his wife Olivia said he's enjoying the new boat which was raced for the first time in St Maarten just recently. "It was absolutely beautiful today, fantastic sailing through all those islands with spinnakers up," Dowling commented. "It was a bit lighter today – maybe 15 – but the past few days we had around 22 – it was great fun. The format is great, all the boats were friendly. It was very close racing, at every mark there was a change of place and it's been like that all week – we were doing the best we could. It's going to be a great class and hopefully we'll get a few more to follow us out here next year!"
Six bullets and a second place put Team McFly racing on the J-122 El Ocaso, in first overall in CSA-3. "In the last race it was touch and go all the way around, for the last hour probably, we could have talked to the three boats around us which really made it exciting," Tony Mack, skipper, said. "Some would fall into a hole, then we did, then people got past us, we got past them, it was really exciting. Spike went so close to the rocks we thought they must have put the brown trousers on! But we were fortunate that we really didn't get into trouble, we did well on the windward-leeward days. All the things that make this place amazing, it really is paradise and a wonderful regatta."
In Performance Cruising, EH01-Global Yacht Racing, a Beneteau First 47.7, scored five bullets over three days of racing. "Our crew worked really well together, and we got the perfect conditions for our boat," Caty Rota, helmswoman, said. "We have a 15-meter boat with powerful sails, and we can drive the boat fast. The crew listened to instructions and managed to keep the boat high and fast. We were a bit over-powered in the first few races but over the past three days we got the trim right and that's worked for us. Our class was very tight racing, especially today, among the top three in our class."
Team Dark Horse on Marty J/Moorings 48, racing in Bareboat 1, made a clean sweep in class with five bullets. Main trimmer Anthony Patterson said, "It's been crazy good – a first Spring Regatta for several of us and the third time for a few of us - we've had a wonderful time just hanging together, some of us learning more about sailing from the experts on board. Our skipper, Dale Kovach, drives it hard in a hard wind. He pushed it to the extent he could and kept it on the leading edge for what seemed like hours at a time. That aggressive sailing and a confident hand is what made a difference."
Seas the Daze/the Moorings 45 helmed by Florian Lienau and friends from Hamburg and Kiel, Germany, took first in Bareboat 2. "The racing week was great, we had nice winds, very good strong winds for us, we had a lot of fun. I also think we had a good boat, quite new sails, we took the weight off the boat and in the end got to know where to tack, I think. We made the boat fast and sailed well! Six friends from Hamburg and Kiel, Germany.
Four bullets and a third firmly placed 93-year-old Robin Tattersall and his crew on Moon Rainbow/Sunsail 41 first overall in Bareboat 3. Tattersall, a BVI local, said with a smile, "It would have been nice to have finished with five bullets, but we had some technical difficulties before the start of the last race, so we started badly and never caught up. We were typically better upwind usually, especially in the breeze, that's where we should have put something in the bank on the last race because we knew the boats were going to come back down on us. It's been great to race this week – I'm not sure how much longer I'll be able to do this for!"
'Every year the Regatta presents The Guy Eldridge Spirt of Enthusiasm Award to an individual or individuals who shine in the spirt of the sport and who has stepped out and gone beyond. This year the award was presented to long-time event volunteers Anne Poor and Pam Fuller, for their outstanding commitment and hard work to the event over many years.
Governor of the British Virgin Island John Rankin said, "I am delighted to be here at this prize giving for the 49th Spring Regatta. I was out yesterday, and I saw the yachts in the Sound, and it was an absolutely fantastic sight, so the first thing I want to do is congratulate every one of the yachts who participated this year. Speaking to the participants I know it's been great sailing but it's more than just sailing – this is our opportunity to showcase this beautiful territory around the sailing community worldwide. Thank all of you for all your participation."
Hon. Sharie DeCastro, the Jr. Minister for Tourism (British Virgin Islands), speaking at the awards ceremony on behalf of Premier Fahie, said, "You are guests and international travellers who have come here to experience this unforgettable event – it's been wonderful to see how you have been able to experience and enjoy our wonderful waters first-hand, after all, we are the sailing capital of the world! Next year is the 50th anniversary of the Regatta and we're looking forward to it, we'll ensure it's the best event yet!"
"The Regatta is about sailing but the heart of what makes it as special as it is, is the people," Judy Petz, Regatta Director said. "Without the hard work of so many people behind the scenes, the event would never happen – we are grateful for our volunteers, our sponsors and all of those who come out to cheer us on. For the sailors who make the journey to spend a week with us, we put on this event for you. We realize the preparation to ready the boats for competition and to plan for this week is a huge task. Our joy comes from hearing that you had a fantastic week and cannot wait to come back – that makes it all worthwhile. See you next year!"