Two prizes were up for grabs at the BVI’s West End Yacht Club’s annual Dark ‘n Stormy regatta. The March 9 – 11 ‘fungatta’ featured races west to Anegada from Tortola and back east again with a lay-day in the middle. In addition, the Dark ‘n Stormy was the finale of the six event second annual Goslings Black Seal Rum Regatta Series that kicked-off with the Firecracker 500 last July.
Though excitement ran high and so did the seas, the winds didn’t cooperate. The 31-boat fleet ultimately motored or was towed to Anegada. The race back was pursuit-style with each boat assigned an individual start time based on its handicap. This meant that the first boat across the line took the prize. This year’s trophy went to Henry Leonnig driving his yacht Firewater.
“I have no secret,” says Leonnig. “My boat, a Melges 24, was built to go down wind fast. And that is the race back to Nanny Cay. If all races were down wind, I would probably have a lot more success.”
Firewater’s finish position in the Dark ‘n Stormy was good enough to secure Leonnig third place overall in the Goslings Series. First and second were awarded to Jon Charlton’s C&C 41, Reba/Team Red Stripe and Kevin Rowlette’s Olson 30, Rushin Rowlette, respectively. It all came down to a razor close finish between these two top contenders.
Reba/Team Red Stripe’s Charlton says, “We were in the lead by one point over Rushin Rowlette after completing five of five races in the series. Kevin had to beat us and put one boat in between us to win outright. If he would have come in first and us second, we would have been tied. After the tie breaker, we both still would have been tied, and then be co-winners of the series. That is how close it was. It made it fun and exciting. It marked the culmination of doing well over a number of races, which is difficult to do.”
Rushin Rowlette started a few seconds behind Reba/Team Red Stripe in the last race of the Dark ‘n Stormy. Therefore, Charlton’s strategy called for keeping his chief competitor covered. “We felt we had very similar speed in the given conditions, so we just tried to stay between him and the finish line,” says Charlton. “It worked, we finished second and Kevin third, which meant that we won the series with Kevin just two points behind in the series’ final standings.”
There’s always next year as far as Rushin Rowlette is concerned. “We were close all the way through, but that last race just wasn’t our kind of race. We do better upwind in the light wind. The concept of a Series is a great idea though as it gets more people out. We’re looking forward to the next one.”
Wildfire ended 4th in the Gosling’s Series and Girasoli rounded out the top five.
A total of 97 yachts sailed in the series, up from 72 yachts last year. For more information about the 2013-2014 Goslings Black Seal Rum Regatta Series, contact: [email protected]
Carol M. Bareuther, RD, is a St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands based marine writer and registered dietitian.