Sailors aboard old-time ‘woodies’ and newer ‘classic plastics’ came together to celebrate Foxy’s 40th Wooden Boat Regatta held on the British Virgin Island of Jost Van Dyke over the weekend of May 24th – 26th.
The theme of this ruby anniversary was definitely old meets new meets in-betweeners, too. For one, Foxy Callwood himself came out to race aboard Endeavour II, in the 32ft island-built sloops first competition since being launched last November by the Jost Van Dyke Preservation Society. Secondly, West End Yacht Club (WEYC), the organizers, changed the traditional format from single-handed racing the first day to a two-day event for all hands on all boats. Finally, the regatta also saw a contingent of contemporary racers kick-off of the fourth annual Gosling’s Race Series.
“Our main event was having Endeavour ll ready to sail after many years of just wanting to get her into the water,” says Foxy’s wife, Tessa Callwood. “Elvett (Meyers) drove Endeavour for us on Saturday and won against the other island sloop, Intrepid, captained by Martin Van Houten, commodore of the WEYC.”
Professor Geoff Brooks, curator of the Virgin Islands Maritime Museum, sailed with Van Houten aboard Intrepid. “It was our first chance to evaluate Endeavor’s speed and she did very well. She beat us soundly in two races on Saturday and we managed to win the one race on Sunday. So overall, Endeavor took first place in the local sloop class.”
A resurgence of six wooden boats from the USVI and BVI competed in a class of their own. Remarkably, this class was won by Dr. Robin Tattersall. Back in 1975 for the first official Foxy’s regatta, Tattersall, his then 15-year-old son and son’s teenage friends had a blast sailing Tattersall’s 36ft Francis Herreshoff Nereia ketch, Galatea of Tortola, to champion this same class.
This year, Tattersall, who became friends with Foxy when he removed the calypsonian’s appendix back in the 1960s, says, “I raced Diva (modified 30ft square meter) with good friend Pat Bailey. We were lucky in that the winds were too light for our main competition, the magnificent 1899 M Class Galatea. The second day, the wind was stronger and with Galatea’s waterline about twice that of Diva, she caught us by a minute at the end. It was a joy to see her gracefully pass us not long before the finish.”
Looking ahead, Tattersall adds, “The number of wooden boat entries had dwindled to close to zero recently but, both in New England and in Europe, classic regattas are booming and many new ‘classic’ type boats are being built in wood these days, some of which come to the Caribbean. A good example of these are the Spirit Yachts from England of which several were shipped over and took part in the regions various regattas. It would be wonderful if Foxy’s could in some way be incorporated into their itinerary before they are shipped back to Europe. I am sure they would probably want to participate.”
Finally, the BVI’s Jon Charlton, who won the Goslings Rum Series three years in a row aboard his C&C 41 CB, Red Stripe/Reba, got off to a good start in this year’s series standings by winning the racing class aboard the 1978-built IC24, Black Pearl.
“The lighter than usual wind velocity gave us a bit of an advantage over the larger boats, and we were able to take advantage of the multiple wind shifts to stay with the larger boats for the most part,” says Charlton. “The best, however, is the friendships that evolve from this regatta last from year to year. Foxy puts on a good show with live music and great food … it’s a regatta that all should do.”
Carol M. Bareuther, RD, is a St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands based marine writer and registered dietitian.