Sailing greats will journey to the North Sound of Virgin Gorda in the British Virgin Islands this month from October 28 through November 4 and gather at Bitter End Yacht Club to lead teams made up of resort guests in a week-long competition for the top Pro Am Regatta honors.
To celebrate the 20th Anniversary, the Pro Am "Invitational" (the event’s original name) returns to the format used for the first five years: a combination of fleet racing and match racing. For 2006, all 10 skippers, juniors and masters (and their teams) will take part in an eight to 10 race fleet series, establishing the seedings for head to head match racing. The best of two-out-of-three race finals between the last two seeds standing will determine an overall winner, who "excels at both match racing and fleet racing," as the "Invitational" trophy dedication points out. Bitter End’s fleets of Freedom 30s and Hunter 216s will be used for match racing.
This year, IC24s will be making their Pro Am debut as the fleet race boat. The four to five-person IC24 has its roots solidly planted in the Virgin Islands. A more user-friendly, open cockpit version of the ever-popular J-24, the IC racing fleet has grown to more than 50 boats locally. Bitter End has two of the first ICs, and Racing in Paradise, a Tortola-based builder/manager/charter outfit, will provide additional boats. Guests may have a chance to watch IC racers in action, including Andrew Waters, Fred Ruebeck, Colin Rathbun, Mike Masters, Mark Plaxton, Garry Turpin, Arjan Stoof, and Racing in Paradise’s owners, Richard Wooldridge and Chris Haycraft.
The show-stopper for this year’s event, according to Bitter End organizers, will be the rivalry between three-time America’s Cup winner Russell Coutts and Round the World Race winner Paul Cayard, as their Pro Am crews hit the open waters of the Caribbean. In addition to Pro Am racing, Coutts and Cayard will race against each other with one guest crew each along for the ride aboard matched Hobie Getaways. This exhibition match race will raise funds for the Hokin Scholarship fund.
“I’m already looking forward to the 20th Anniversary Pro Am,” says Coutts. “It’s my favorite event of the year and Bitter End is my favorite vacation destination. It’s great seeing many of the same keen guest sailors year after year.”
“We’ll be there,” adds Cayard. “This will be our fifth Pro Am and the whole family enjoys coming. We’ve had the pleasure of sailing with and socializing with some really nice people over the years.”
Other professional participants include Ken Read, two-time Pro Am winner, two-time Rolex Yachtsman of the Year, five-time J-24 World Champion and Etchells World Champion; Dawn Riley, Whitbread and America’s Cup veteran, President of the Women’s Sports Foundation and America True; Dave Perry, a world class racer, and inspirational author/educator; Lowell North, Founder of North Sails and Olympic Gold Medalist; Keith Musto, 2005 Pro Am winner, the U.K.’s best known dinghy sailor and Olympic Medalist; Rod Johnstone, 2000 Pro Am winner and J-boat designer; Bruce Kirby, two-time World Champion in I-14s, two-time Canadian Olympian, Father (designer) of the Laser, Sonar and Ideal 18 and penned America’s Cup racers for Canada (Canada 1 and 2); and Butch Ulmer, 1999 Pro Am winner and founder of U.K. Sails.
The 5th Annual Scuttlebutt Sailing Club Championships will also take place during Pro Am Regatta Week. Bitter End guests can partake of non-sailing activities, too, including cocktail parties, theme dinners, water sports, informational seminars, and an excursion to Anegada.
Originally a shorefront pub and five rustic cottages, Bitter End was purchased by Chicago’s Hokin family in 1973 and now offers visitors more than 85 beachfront guest rooms, 70 moorings, 20 slips, two restaurants, a freshwater pool, and several private beaches.
Pro Am Event Schedule
October 28 – November 4, 2006
– Welcome Sunset Harbor Cruise
– Musto Scuttlebutt Laser and Hobie Racing Eliminations (morning)
– Musto Scuttlebutt Hunter 216 Racing Eliminations (afternoon)
– Day-Racing Awards Party
– Mount Gay Rum Defiance Day and Scuttlebutt Offshore Regattas Defiance Day Post Race Awards Party
– Pro Am Racing: IC 24 Fleet Racing morning and afternoon
– Scuttlebutt State of the Sport Forum
– Layday trip to Anegada
– Pro Hobie Getaway Exhibition Match Race Series (morning)
– Am Hobie Getaway Exhibition Match Race Series (afternoon)
– Theme Dinner
– Pro Am Racing: IC 24 Fleet Racing (morning)
– Musto Scuttlebutt Sailing Club Championships (Finals in the afternoon aboard Hunter 216s and Hobie Getaways)
– Musto Scuttlebutt Awards Party and Limbo Jump-Up
– Pro Am Racing: Juniors in Hunter 216s (morning)
– Pro Am Racing: Masters in Freedom 30s (afternoon)
– Mount Gay Rum Poolside Party
– Pro Am Awards Dinner