The Dark and Stormy race from Trellis Bay, Beef Island to Anegada got off to a record breaking start with the entries totaling thirty-two yachts. The great pre-race BBQ at the Loose Mongoose on the evening of March 9 saw people lined up at the Loyal West End Yacht Club’s registration table, with a skippers meeting held the next morning, race day.
Commodore and race chairman Martin Van Houten was ecstatic with the turnout: “The regatta has steadily grown over the years, and we have six entries more this year than last year!” Martin handed out the course charts and made sure that everyone was well aware that the Dogs were part of the course, and “all the little doggy bits” were to be taken to port, before cracking off for the race to the finish at the entrance to Neptune’s Treasure in Anegada.
I had the pleasure of racing on the catamaran Kuralu that has made every Dark and Stormy Race since its inception ten years ago. With a crew of eleven, plus two rather large dogs, we were set to race once again with Captain Robin Pinfold at the helm; he enjoys his racing, but also likes to have fun. Race day was perfect with winds coming out of east at about 15 to 18 knots with a slight chop.
The fleet had been split into half to accommodate the boats on the starting line with the under-forty footers taking off first and the larger boats to follow five minutes later. We found that short tacking around Scrub Island and all the Dogs paid off for us, keeping out of the current in Drakes channel as best we could. The wind lightened up to about two knots trying to get around the last Dog, as there was a shift to the south that filled in nicely once getting past Seal Dog. After the rounding, the breeze piped up again and made for a great close reach to the finish.
Once ashore at Neptune’s Treasure, all were warmly greeted by the Soares family who were the hosts and one of the sponsors for this great race. Bars were set up with snacks served, not to mention the smoked fish dip provided by Marty off the yacht Ruffian, one of the early pioneers of the race. The setting sun brought a band out that played well into the night and could be heard all throughout the anchorage.
Sunday morning came quickly with a big day ahead of the racers: the hotly-contested horseshoe tournament, sand castle building contest for the kids, and the ever-popular dinghy race held in the shallows of the anchorage. From there, the crowd split up, some going to the Big Banana for a late lunch at Loblolly Bay, and then filtered down to Cow Wreck Beach to finish off a glorious afternoon swimming in the tranquil waters. Once back at race headquarters, dinner was served with lobster and all of the fresh fish that the Soares family takes pride in catching and serving. Another note that day was the meeting of three old friends that had molded businesses back in the early sixties in the BVI. Vern Soares, Foxy from Jost Van Dyke, and Tony Snell from the Last Resort in Trellis Bay sat for hours and chatted about the old days and the not so distant past.
The return race on Monday was slated to have winds out of the northeast but alas, they never materialized, causing the race committee to abandon the race about two hours after the start. The deadline for the finish at five o’clock wasn’t going to be made by anyone even with a shortened course at Sandy Cay. So off it was to the awards at the Jolly Roger where there were, of course, more festivities with food and live music. Many racers that have done the Dark and Stormy Race over the years applauded the organizers and sponsors for such a well-organized and fun event. See you next year!
First – Rainbow Maker USVI
Second – Hotel California BVI
Third – Apsara
Fourth – Wildfire BVI
Fifth – MoabBVI