“Flying Circus was the only wooden boat to enter the regatta [in its class] this year,” says St. John, USVI’s Lon Munsey, of his 45ft ketch built in the Bahamas by William Albury of Man of War Cay, Abaco, in 1956. “This was partly due to an early forecast of rainy weather. In fact, it turned out to be near perfect sailing conditions.”
Regatta organizer and WEYC Commodore, Martin Van Houten, helmed the winning Tortola sloop, Intrepid, while the BVI’s Brian Duff followed in second place aboard Youth Instructor. These two sloops join Moonbeam as part of the Virgin Islands Maritime Museum’s collection of handcrafted nearly century old Tortola-built work sloops.
Tortola’s Erik Groenenberg skippered a lovely 12ft lapstrake wooden sailing dinghy. “My wife, Sheryl, and I have sailed this regatta a few times and been lucky enough to have been aboard traditional wooden boat entries. Now, however, since the regatta has been opened to all types of sailing vessels, we can have a larger fleet and those of us who do not have wooden boats to sail can still enjoy the fun of racing and watch the lovely old woody’s race as well.”
In the Classic Plastic Class, open to fiberglass boats over thirty years old, it was Zephyr, a 1972-built Pearson 30, which won. “The highlight of the first day for us was the multiple man overboard drills to retrieve our brand new cushion, with great success thanks to an awesome crew,” explains Zephyr’s Capt. Bear. “We crossed the line first on the second day.”
There are still a few wooden boats out there, adds Flying Circus’ Munsey. “We hope to have a lot of them show up next year for Foxy’s 40th annual regatta. Foxy and Tess are great hosts and go out of their way to make sure that a good time is had by all.”
Two weeks later, the WEYC hosted the first Beat ‘n’ Run, the kick-off regatta for the 3rd Gosling’s Series. The course featured a beat from Soper’s Hole to Pelican Island, over to Flanagan Island and a run back to Soper’s Hole. Henry Leonnig’s Fire Water finished first, followed by last year’s Series winner, John Charlton’s Reba. Mike Finlay’s Grey Goose scored a third.
New this year for the six-regatta Gosling Series, says van Houten “we will be awarding prizes to the top three spots for both a racing and a cruising class.”
The Round Tortola Race, hosted by the Royal BVI Yacht Club in mid-November, will be the next race in the series.
Carol M. Bareuther, RD, is a St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands based marine writer and registered dietitian.