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BVI Island Sloop Shootout

The West End Yacht Club successfully pulled off another winner in running the recent BVI Island Sloop Shootout Race between Governor Tom Macan and BVI Chief Minister, Dr. Orlando Smith. It was a super addition to the BVI Heritage Festival which takes place yearly the first week of August on Tortola.

It all started when, after a most successful Foxy’s 30th Wooden Boat Regatta, WEYC Board Member Geoff Brooks was sailing the Island Sloops back to Tortola. “I thought how much fun it was having the sloops in Foxy’s and wondered why they couldn’t be a part of the BVI Festival. I spoke with Dave Cooper, Commodore of the WEYC, and Shaina Smith, President of the VI Powerboat Association, and asked them what they thought. When they agreed – the WEYC to run it and the VIPBA to sponsor it – everything started falling into place. We had no idea that the race would be as successful or as interesting as it was, though. We were really lucky. The weather was perfect; the teams were well matched and the boats looked just great out there on the course (which was held in front of the BVI Administration Building in Road Town). You must realize that until the mid-1960s, the Island Sloops were always a part of Festival. I just thought that on our 50th Festival Anniversary it would be a good time to revive them.”

The two competing Tortola sloops, Youth Instructor (2000) and Moonbeam (1989) were raced by the two teams in two races with the teams sailing on each boat in a Round Robin format. Starting at 9:30 am on August 3rd, Gov. Macan’s team raced the smaller Moonbeam, which beat Youth Instructor at Foxy’s. Macan’s team was ready to go. Consisting of Olympic sailors John Shirley &
Elvett Meyers with Sam Davies (the brother of the late Osmond Davies, builder of Youth Instructor) the sailing was perfect as the Governor was ahead of the Chief Minister at the start and held him off until the windward mark when Dr. Smith, showing some fine sailing form, gibed inside the governor, and came around for a triumphant 1st race win.

It was then that the Committee Boat, Leda, with Race Committee members Peter Ratcliff, Martin Van Houten and Dave Cooper, showed up along side Moonbeam to collect the team and make a mid-harbour switch over to Youth Instructor to change crews. Dr. Smith also had a great crew headed by Laurens Blok, Quinten Henley, a student in the Marine Studies Programme, and Dwayne Smith, Vice President of the VIPBA.

After the crew exchange, Gov. Macan was in the larger, faster Youth Instructor and was guaranteed a victory almost from the start. Upon the completion of the second race with a tie for both teams, the event was heralded with a beautiful trophy sculpted by master copper sculptor, Aragon Dick-Reid from Trellis Bay.

To my knowledge, a sailing competition has never been held between two heads of state in the Virgin Islands so this was a success in every way. A special thanks to Kevin Wrigley from Quantum Sails who provided the Press Boat at the last minute. The media were there in full force and we appreciate Kevin’s thoughtfulness as well as Al Frasier, from HLSCC, who skippered us all around.


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