The Annual Manhattan Yacht Club Challenge Races between the Royal BVI Yacht Club and the Loyal West End Yacht Club took place on Saturday, July 17. The event has been renamed the Guy Eldridge Memorial race to honour the late Captain of Sailing of the RBVIYC.
Two races were held. The first was the Memorial race from Sea Cows Bay, Tortola, to Oceans 7 Beach Club on Peter Island. Nine yachts entered and were required to pass around Dead Chest Island en route. It was an eventful race, since a few minutes after the start a severe squall hit the fleet, with the result that four boats retired from the race. Fortunately nobody was hurt although Sorceress lost her fore-sail when the squall hit.
The IC24 Grey Ghost, skippered by George Lane won the race, with Guy Eldridge's boat, Luxury Girl, finishing in third place.
After lunch at Oceans 7, the second race of the day, the Manhattan Trophy challenge, got underway. This was a very lighthearted affair, with numerous acts of piracy and skullduggery involved! This year teams from the Royals and the Loyals had to complete four laps of the course in Great Harbour in relays on Laser dinghies.
The race got underway in yet another squall, but this didn't prevent supporters of each team from performing various acts of piracy – they included numerous capsizings of their opponents' boats, boardings, removal of booms, removal of rudders and even removal of crew! At the end of each lap, each team had to drink a shot of rum and shout a suitably loud pirate phrase. Governor Peary judged whether the phrase was suitably piratical and shouted loudly enough, with many sailors being forced to try again until he was satisfied! Only then could their teammates set off in the relay for another lap.
On the final lap the Royals, with Chris Haycraft and son Nathan on board, were well ahead and looked to be certain victors. However, the Loyals, led by Henry, had other plans. Driving a yacht tender, they forced the Royals further out to sea and away from the course. Then they threw a line to their own entry and towed them around the course at speed! Notwithstanding this, the Royals still got back to the beach first, but Chris had to run the gauntlet of five rugby tackles! This allowed Nick Cunha for the Loyals to sneak in, drink his shot of rum and shout his pirate phrase, bringing victory to the West End Yacht Club for the first time in three years.
Winner of the "Best Pirate Phrase" went to Chris's son Nathan, for his blood curdling cry of "Walk the Plank!"
Speaking at the prize giving, WEYC Commodore Martin van Houten thanked everyone for coming and all the sponsors and volunteers for making the event such a success, despite the sometimes severe rain storms. Captain of Sailing for the RBVIYC, Guy Phoenix, was unavailable for comment, apparently "gutted" by the defeat. He was subsequently overheard to say "We'll get them next year – I'm going to bring a cannon!" We're looking forward to the 2011 event already!
Report and photos submitted by Guy Phoenix, Royal BVI Yacht Club