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BVI Spring Regatta 2007: Plenty of Wind, Rain and Excitement for the First Day

It’s been a wild and wonderful time for racing in the first day of competition in the 2007 BVI Spring Regatta. Wind was not lacking but rather too much for some boats that struggled to keep from broaching in gusts up to 26 knots. Others reveled in the brisk breeze and turned wind into pure power. Sailing in over 15 knots of breeze from the northeast, rather than the prevailing southeast, under cloudy skies and intermittent rain, boats on the Norman course sailed one race in the morning and one in the afternoon, the Cooper Race area completed three races and the one-design racers completed five.

Trinidad’s Peter Peak knows he has a fast boat and hot crew. But, he didn’t know what to make of the competition in his Spinnaker Racing A class. “How do you evaluate a Volvo Ocean winner against a Reichel Pugh 44,” said Peak, referring to class competitor, ABN AMRO ONE (1-1-1, 3), compared to his own Storm (6-5-OCS, 19). “And, we know Titan XII (2-2-2, 6) is a force to be reckoned with,” Peake adds. Include to this mix the challenge of an OCS. “We went so deep that I really thought we had cleared the start line, but we hadn’t. That was disappointing,” he said.

In Spinnaker Racing B, Wisconsin sailor and part-time BVI resident, Dave West, enjoyed equally well the two round-the-buoy races and one tour-racing course for the day. “It doesn’t matter to me as long as I’ve got a boat going faster than me,” West says. And, that’s just what he had. In a class make up of six Melges, four 24s and two 32s, one of those 32s being West’s Chippewa (2,2,5), it was the undefeated Melges 24, Devil 3 (,1,1,3) that got the best of the class. “Those boys can sure sail that boat,” said West, speaking of St. Croix’s Chris Stanton at the helm, his brother Peter calling tactics, and the rest of their Crucian crew, including lady Laser sailor, Sydney Jones. Meanwhile, West had his work cut out for him. “We tied with Crash Test Dummies (3,5,1) on points, but lost the tie-breaker for second place,” he said, of the Trinidadian-based Melges 32, skippered by Tim Kimpton.

As a results of redress, El Oacaso (4, 1,1) took the lead in Spinnaker Racing C . Team Paul Mitchell (I,2,4.5), a Beneteau First 40, skippered by Mark Palermo, in the second, followed by Doug Baker’s Olson 30, J-Bird (7,3,1) third.

St. Thomas’ Christine Thompson, manning the foredeck aboard her family’s J/27, J-Walker (1,2,2), the Spinnaker Racing D class winner, proved she could walk on water. In the second race of the day, just as the boat was sailing downwind for the finish, Thompson manned the jib but instead ended up swinging about 5-foot over the side before taking three steps in the air, returning to deck and snapping the pole into place. “I just hung on,” she says. “I knew if I didn’t we would have easily been 6th rather than 2nd in that race.”

The Racer Cruiser class saw Puerto Rico’s Julio Reguero, skippering his J/105, Umakua (2,1,1), take the lead. Meanwhile, Peter Haycraft’s perennial class winner, Pipedream (4,2,3), inched up to second with Jabberwocky (1,5,4) a J/105 skippered by Michael Williamson, in third.

One of the most exciting events on the race course happened at the end of race two on the Norman course and not only did the committee boat witness the event, their boat, Bitter End Yacht Club’s Corinthian, ended up with two holes in the side that had to be taped to keep the boat from taking on water. As told by Robin Rinda, one of the committee members, ClimaSelect Air Conditioning, racing in Bareboat Division A, tacked too soon after crossing the finish line blocking the path of two other competitors. ClimaSelect Air Conditioning was hit and then ran, not once but twice, into Corinthian, causing the damage. Regardless of the excitement, the committee managed to get accurate finish times for all the boats that followed.

In Performance Cruising A, the day’s big winner is Brian Bennett’s Advantage (2,1), a Grand Soleil 50. Tied in total points, but currently in second place based on the tie breaking rules, is Affinity (1,2), owned by Jack Desmond. Black Hole, a Beneteau First 40.7 (4,3), sailed by Patrick Krol, is in currently in third place.

The results of the first race for the Performance B class are in dispute. Two boats that started late, Cayenita and Sorceress, sailed a different course to the rest of the class. Although the according to other competitors in the class, the course they sailed was announced a number of times on the radio and the corresponding flag was up until the starting signal, the flag was changed as the warning signal for the next class was sounded. As the committee was doing rolling starts, the start of Performance B and the warning for the next class is the same sound signal. Cayenita is protesting all the boat in the class that sailed the course announced by the race committee and signified by the class flag that was up until their start. That protest will be heard tomorrow. Pending the decision of the protest committee, Three Harkoms, (2,1) the modified Beneteau 445 owned by Christopher Lloyd, can put another notch in her belt. Sorceress (1,5), James Carney’s Tartan 10, is
in second and is followed by only one point by the BVI’s Robin Tattersall in Diva (5,2).

Hotel California Too , scratch boat in Jib and Main, currently leads the fleet., Steve Schmidt’s Santa Cruz 70 has four points with a first and a third. Tied, also with four points is Second Nature (2,2), owned by Bill Bailey. Third place Mary Jane (4,1) is definitely within striking distance only one point behind.

The Moorings certainly is dominating the Bareboat A division taking first through third places in the first day of racing. A Moorings 515, Joyce Smith (1,1), sailed by Tony Mack is currently in the lead of Bareboat A. Axez (2,2), another Moorings 515 sailed by van Dop, is in second and Moorings skipper, Dunbar, is in third in the Beneteau 494, Makin’Smiles (3,4).

My Passion (3,1), a Gib’sea 43, helmed by Radboud Crul, leads Bareboat B. Tied in points, is Chess (3,1) and Burt Keenan and Neil Harvey currently hold third place in Acadia’s Champagne Lady (2,4).

There are only two large multihulls racing and at this point in the regatta, it appears as though Richard Wooldridge’s Triple Jack is dominating with two first place finishes. Joe San Martin’s Piglet, is in second place, but unfortunately, its also last place in this division.

IC24 racing has become quite the gentlemen’s sport- at least since there are six umpires on the course, instantly adjudicating situation that could potentially result in a protest. The umpires, almost all International Umpires, based on power granted to them by Appendix Q and the organizing authority, have the right to impose a two turn penalty if they witness an infraction and if the offending competitor chooses to wait for the umpires to rule rather than initiating one penalty turn on their own. As a result, according to umpire Tom Rinda, the fleet is sailing very cleanly and taking their penalty turns without hesitation when required.

Although well behaved while racing, rumor has it that there was near revolt on the IC24 course at the end of the fifth race today. Although the race committee may have considered starting a sixth race, sailors were wet and cold and ready to call it a day. Provisional results have MIO- Roaming (1,4,2,4,3), helmed by Andrew Waters, in first place. Five points behind, is Chris Rosenberg in Bambooshay (2,3,8,5,1) and Mio Broadband (6,2,5,6,4), with BVI Olympian Robbie Hirst at the helm, is currently in third place.

In the Beach Cat class, David Murray, sailing his Prindle 19, TBD (4,2,4,4,3), said he knew it was windy, but not how windy. “We’re little boats. We don’t have all those fancy electronics. Maybe it hit 26 knots today. I don’t know. What I do know is that sailing downwind, we’d hit a puff and it would only make us go that much faster. It was great.” Tom Ainger, who skippered his Inter 20, Caribbean Auto Mart (1,1,1,1,1), to a class lead, added, “We really liked those rolling starts. Five races for the day, that’s what we like. “I think if you had more racing like this, rather than to go out on the big boat course in the heavy chop and sit and wait an hour or more in between races, you’d get more beach cats back out sailing regularly. This regatta does the best job of getting off lots of races.”

Several ex-Optimist sailors, and excellent sailors at that, from Trinidad, gave fellow competitors from the USVI and BVI a run for their money in the Laser classes. St. Thomas’ Tyler Rice (6.12.4.3.3), who aced the Laser Radial class in the Heineken Culebra International Regatta, said, “Those Trini sailors are intense. They have incredible boat speed downwind. I was faster upwind and probably played the shifts better, but they’d get me every time downwind.”

Once again, weather is on everyone’s mind as it has rained throughout much of today’s racing. Predictions remain constant calling for more wind and less rain as the weekend progresses.

Using a wireless connection and hardware provided by CCT Global Communications and software developed by Caribdata, Paul Miller, the official BVI Spring Regatta scorers, has kept the committee, sailors and all interested parties update to date with real time reporting of results. As boats finish, results are entered into laptop computers on the committee boats and then instantly converted into corrected times and finish places. Paul has developed this system which is now being used in the BVI Spring Regatta and Sailing Festival, Cowes one design racing, the Culebra International Regatta, and the St. Croix International Regatta.

BVI Spring Regatta and Sailing Festival encompass two great events. The 2007 Sailing Festival – a low-pressure, three-day warm up for the regatta – started on Monday, March 26 with a welcome party at Nanny Cay. Three days of destination cruising, racing and layday fun, including the Nation’s Challenge Cup, led up to the main three-day BVI Spring Regatta starting on Friday, March 30. The expanded seven-day format has turned the traditional three days of racing action into a weeklong sailing festival that takes participants throughout the British Virgin Islands.

Held annually on the first weekend of April, the BVI Spring Regatta & Sailing Festival is celebrating its 36th anniversary. It is now a seven-day event with two events back-to-back attracting an average of 150 yachts per year with eighty percent of the competitors from overseas. The BVI Spring Regatta is presented by Nanny Cay Resort and Marina; the BVI Tourist Board is a Platinum sponsor; gold sponsors are Bitter End Yacht Club, CCT Global Communications, First Caribbean International Bank, Heineken, The Moorings, Mount Gay, and SOL.

Visitors can fly to the British Virgin Islands through San Juan, Puerto Rico with American Airlines, Cape Air and LIAT. Flights are also available through Antigua and Barbados on Virgin Atlantic, British Airways and BWIA.

For full details on the BVI Spring Regatta & Sailing Festival including daily news, photos and complete results from the 2007 event, visit the official web site: http://www.bvispringregatta.org. For more information on the British Virgin Islands visit: http://www.bvitourism.com. For more information on Nanny Cay Marina visit: http://www.nannycay.com.

The BVI Spring Regatta is jointly owned by the Royal BVI Yacht Club and the BVI Chamber of Commerce and Hotel Association.

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