Sailors were so ‘fired-up’ to race the BVI’s West End Yacht Club’s annual Firecracker 500 Regatta that a record fleet of 22 boats came out July 7th to compete in this 18 nautical mile pursuit-style race whose course rounded Dead Chest and Pelican Islands with a finish back at Nanny Cay Marina.
Firewater, the BVI’s Henry Leoning’s Melges 24, took first place. “We had a really good crew and a fast boat,” says Leoning. “We didn’t fly a spinnaker on the last two legs, but the course provided a nice point of sail for my boat, it reached well and we really got ahead of the fleet.”
Yet, it was the USVI’s Mike Finley aboard the IC24, Grey Goose, which really put the heat on Firewater. “We were in the lead all the way down on the downwind leg and we were in the lead all the way up to the finish line, when we got passed 50 yards from the finish line and lost to Firewater by four seconds,” says Finley. “We messed up trying to fly the spinnaker at the first leeward mark. We should have dumped the spinnaker and put up the jib and it cost us the race. That’s racing!”
The BVI’s Julie Deakin and the crew on the IC24, Latitude 18, finished third. “We won this regatta in 2010, but this year Grey Goose just flew. We beat them at the start, but couldn’t catch up to them upwind. The finish was great though with everyone getting close. That’s the fun of a pursuit race.”
Clear sunny skies and winds blowing steady at 15 knots from the ENE allowed every boat to finish in a timely manner. That’s remarkable considering it was a real mixed bag fleet. There was everything from little boats like a 22ft Beneteau, Squibs crewed by kids from the BVI Watersports Centre, and an IC24 sailed by KATS kids, to really fast boats like the Olson 30, Rushin Rowlette, Tartan 10, Windemon, and Melges 24, Firewater. There were even a couple of catamarans such as the 35ft Edel Cat, Wildfire, and new Lagoon 45, YOLO. Sailors came from the BVI as well as all three USVI.
The crew from Firewater scored a double-win for the day when crewmember Nick Cunha won the after-racing Chile Cook-Off. This year’s regatta raised $600 for the BVI KATS Program.
The Firecracker 500 Regatta is the second of the 2012-2013 Gosling’s Regatta Series. After two regattas, Rushin Rowlette and Reba/Team Red Stripe are tied for first with Firewater third in the 32-boat fleet. The Series continues with the Royal BVI Yacht Club’s Round Tortola Race on November 17th. For more information, Email: [email protected]