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Duff Bags Back to School Regatta

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As the second day of the Back to School Regatta got under way, Royal BVI Yacht Club Race Coach Rob Lind shouted instructions from his ten-foot dinghy to several youth sailors.

“Let’s play rabbit,” he shouted. “Rayne [Duff] you be the rabbit.”

In choppy and windy conditions, seven BVI sailors lined up as if they were about to start a race. Instead, they were doing a practice drill to improve their up-wind sailing.

The BVI coach’s drill helped the team pull off the top spot during the annual RBVIYC Back to School Regatta on September 20-21 at Nanny Cay, Tortola.

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“If you have a good start; it sets the tone for the rest of the race,” Lind said.

The overall winner was Rayne Duff of Tortola, followed by St. Thomas sailors Teddy Nicolosi and Chris Sharpless. Thad Lettsome, of the BVI, took fourth.

The two-day regatta featured 35 Optimist sailors competing on two different courses.

The Green Fleet was won by Gillian Perrell, who was followed by Max Van Den Driessche and Anya Reshetiloff.

In between races, several BVI sailors rafted up to their coach’s dinghy and discussed strategy.

“My goal is to beat Rayne and Teddy,” Thad [Lettsome] said. “They are doing really well.”

Lind said the 10 to 14 knots of wind were ideal for Thad — a bigger sailor.  The regatta would be his last at home as an Optimist sailor. However, he now plans to compete in the Laser class.

As the coach continued to give advice to his youth sailors, Rayne took time to eat a homemade chocolate-peanut butter energy snack. He was thinking about how to tackle the wind shifts in the next race.

“I am having trouble coming up with a plan,” Rayne said.

It was his fifth time competing in the Back to School Regatta and possibly his best performance. He finished with six bullets and four second-place finishes to win the regatta.

Around 12:30pm on the last day of the regatta, sailors of all ages aboard various boats, including Optimists, Lasers and IC24s, competed in the Bart’s Bash race in an attempt to set a Guinness World Record for the largest multi-venue sailing race.

The race was held in memory of Andrew ‘Bart’ Simpson, an America’s Cup sailor who died during a practice session in San Francisco earlier this year.

“He was one of us,” Lind said, who took part in the Bart’s Bash aboard a Laser. “It’s a great way to pay tribute to him.”

Unfortunately, the BVI attempt fell short by two sailors to be counted as part of the record-breaking event.

Most of the youth sailors will now compete at the Columbus Day Regatta in October in St. Thomas. In November, two BVI sailors will compete at Worlds in Argentina.


Todd VanSickle is a journalist living and working in the Virgin Islands.

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So Caribbean you can almost taste the rum...

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