New this year: A “cleaner, greener” event, Round Virgin Gorda Race and streamlined Immigration and Customs.
The BVI Spring Regatta (jointly owned by the Royal BVI Yacht Club and the BVI Chamber of Commerce and Hotel Association) celebrates its 38th anniversary this year by joining forces with Sailors for the Sea to reduce the pollution generated by the regatta and to promote ocean awareness.
Regatta Director Judy Petz said that last year, the event started recycling glass and succeeded with over 10,000 bottles. “Although that may not seem dramatic to those living in other parts of the world, nothing is currently recycled in the BVI and so this was a start. For 2009, we contacted Sailors for the Sea, a conservation group that focuses on sailing and the boating community. We are ready to take the clean-green plunge.”
Efforts this year will include the continued glass recycling, a list of criteria from the SFS and an initiative to reduce plastic waste by 30%. “Any given race boat will generate between 20 – 100 small plastic bottles per race day. Multiply that times 160 participating boats and we are looking at a mountain of plastic. Sponsored by BVI Tourist Board, all sailors will be given reusable water bottles, and Clearwater Purification System has offered to refill these bottles for free.”
The BVI Tourist Board also is providing reusable skipper bags, made from recycled materials, Nanny Cay Marina is setting up glass recycling bins, and SOL will be providing sailors with oil spill pads. Heineken is helping to promote these initiatives with posters around the Regatta Village.
The basic format remains the same with two additional innovations—first, on the traditional Sailing Festival Layday, at the Bitter End Yacht Club, sailors will have the option to compete in the Around Virgin Gorda Race and second, the BVI Customs Department has granted special dispensation to participating regatta yachts and will not be charging for cruising permits. Additionally, to expedite the clearing in and clearing out process, Masters can file electronically.
About the changes in the Bitter End Layday schedule, John Glynn, Special Events Coordinator, explained, “Our intention is to now run the much anticipated Around Virgin Gorda Race (the 7th Annual) as part of the BVI Spring Regatta and Sailing Festival, on Wednesday April 1st. There will be special prizes for Swans, and the top Swan will be recognized. Entry in BVI Spring Regatta and Sailing Festival is not required.”
BVI Customs and Immigration officials are on site at Nanny Cay from noon to 1800 on Monday March 30 and Thursday, April 2, and will waive the Cruising Permit fee, a savings for visiting yachts of $20 to $80, depending on the number of crew.
Wade Smith, BVI Customs Comptroller, also requested that visiting yachts entering the BVI, streamline the process for clearing in and out electronically. The Caribbean Pre-Arrival Notification system, eSeaClear, is a service that provides vessel operators the ability to submit electronic notifications of arrival to participating Customs offices in the Caribbean.
For daily news, photos and complete results from the BVI Spring Regatta and Sailing Festival underway at the start of this month, visit the official web site: www.bvispringregatta.org.
Report and photographs submitted by BVI Spring Regatta and Sailing Festival