Want to spend a few days competing alongside Ed Baird, the winning helmsman on the America’s Cup boat Alinghi? Or with Terry Hutchinson, the Louis Vuitton Cup-winning tactician and America’s Cup runner-up on Emirates Team New Zealand? Plan a trip to the Bitter End Yacht Club from October 27 to November 3 this year.
This unique event offers a combination of fleet and match racing at the Bitter End Yacht Club on Virgin Gorda’s North Sound in the British Virgin Islands each year when amateur enthusiasts take to the water with racing’s hot shots. The only event of its kind in the world, Pro Am Regatta Week offers amateur and old salt sailors the rare opportunity to learn from, and race with, the legends of sailing.
As BEYC’s Director of Special Events, John Glynn, points out, “Where else can you crew for America’s Cup Skippers and Olympians?” Other skippers signed on include Russell Coutts, Paul Cayard, Ken Read, Dawn Riley, Ben Ainslie, Lowell North, Keith Musto, Rod Johnstone, Bruce Kirby, and Butch Ulmer.
“The IC 24 Regatta that we are hosting before the Pro Am, called the Drake’s IC 24 Challenge, takes place October 27-28 (as the pros and ams are arriving),” says Glynn. “It’s for the local boats, to give them an opportunity to feel a part of the whole Pro Am scene. Last year, it went really well with 11 boats,” Glynn reports. “Chris Haycraft and crew won. This year we hope some boats come over from St. Thomas and Puerto Rico–the Club Nautico folks have threatened to come.”
Competition during the week takes place on a variety of boats, including Lasers, IC-24s, Hunter 216’s, Freedom 30s and Hobie Getaways. In addition to Pro Am team racing, the action also includes the Musto Scuttlebutt Sailing Championships, the Defiance Day Regatta, and lay day racing on Wednesday for those who want even more water time.
There is also a lively off-the-water social schedule every year that fellow sailors and other resort guests can enjoy along with great diving and snorkeling.
The 2007 presenting sponsor for the event is Vineyard Vines. “We’ve also added ClearPoint Weather (formerly True North) as a sponsor,” says Glynn. Other sponsors include Mount Gay Rum, Heineken Beer, Musto Int’l, Highland Springs, and Racing in Paradise.