The BVI Spring Regatta and Sailing Festival started with light winds, but by the end of the weeklong event sailors found themselves talking about the wet and wild conditions that they faced while competing.
The regatta had 82 boats racing on three different courses in the Sir Francis Drake Channel, including the one-design course with IC24s and Melges 32s.
The growing one-design division is good news for sailors like Meaghan Hislop, who works mast on the Melges 32 Smile and Wave. She lives in St. Croix, but travels frequently on the weekends to Puerto Rico to train on the Melges 32.
“It was a really exciting weekend overall,” Hislop said. “We are really excited to have this Melges 32 class. The competition has been really close.”
Smile and Wave ran away with the division, beating three 32s from Puerto Rico and one from St. Maarten.
“We have been training together and racing together. There is a great camaraderie. We drink with each other at the end of the day, but out on the water we really want to beat each other. We are really working hard to grow this class,” Hislop said.
She added, “The rumor is that we are going to have a new Melges 32 in St. Croix and in the BVI. It is a fun class to sail in. You might feel like there is a little bit of punishment on the rail, but when you are going downwind at 20 knots — it is sheer joy on everyone’s face.”
In the IC24 Class, Colin Rathbun skippering for team Tortola Express took first place and the Best BVI Boat award. He was happy to be competing aboard an IC24 after a hiatus.
“The IC24s went into a bit of a slump in the BVI,” Rathbun said. “A couple of owners have bigger boats, so when it comes to the bigger regattas they want to go on their bigger boats.”
In the Performance Cruising 2 Division, Shamrock VII took first place.
Matt Dana and his girlfriend Tmana Toennis, of Maine, sailed aboard Shamrock. On the back of Matt’s legs were several lesions caused by the boat’s rigging when he fell off during a race near Dead Chest.
“I was full on in the water. I was being dragged. But I was able to swing myself back up on the boat with a little help from another crew member,” Dana said. “I knew I would never live it down if I didn’t get myself aboard. I didn’t want to cause my team any detriment.”
It was Toennis’ first regatta and she was happy to be ‘rail meat’, even in the rough conditions.
“I loved it,” she said. “At first it was very intimidating, but as soon as I got on the boat it was a lot easier. It wasn’t as bad as I thought it was going to be.”
The weather conditions caused several boats to broach and two boats dismasted during the regatta. However, BVISR chairman Bob Phillips was not surprised by the damage to the boats.
“It was three hard days of racing,” Phillips said. “Sailors find things that should have been better maintained on their boats. There was a lot of exciting sailing.”
Most sailors were happy to have the excessive wind.
“The racing conditions couldn’t have been any better,” Smile and Wave’s Hislop said. “It is not just scenic and beautiful, it is always challenging.”
Prior to the BVISR, the inaugural Tortola Sloop Spring Challenge was held in honor of Maritime Heritage Day between three of H. Lavity Stoutt Community College’s wooden sloops, which are more than 100-years-old.
Although Intrepid took line honors, the winner on corrected time was Youth Instructor skippered by Andrew Waters.
Off the water, sailors had plenty to do with nightly entertainment by performers like Al Broderick of Hot Sauce and Quito Rymer and The Edge. As night fell and sailors danced in the sand, the blaze from Aragorn Dick-Read’s sculptures, which are normally at the Full Moon party at Trellis Bay, helped illuminate the regatta village. Additionally, there was a fashion show poolside by Trefle, and Nichole Raab performed aerial acrobatics performed aerial acrobatics as dangled 30-feet in the air from a rope attached to a crane.
Around 7:00am on Monday after the regatta wrapped up, BVISR Director Judy Petz was already planning for next year’s event.
“In the last three weeks I have had more Emails asking when the 2015 regatta is going to be held,” Petz said.
For full results and more, visit: bvispringregatta.org
1: Tonnerre de Breskens 3
2: Highland Fling XII
1: Team McFly/ Quokka
2: El Ocaso
3: White Rhino
3: Bad Girl
Performance Cruising 1
1: Spirit of Venus
Performance Cruising 2
1: Shamrock VII
2: Sparti Vento
Jib & Main 1
1: Myett’s Salona Express
3: Freedom of Hamble
Jib & Main 2
2: Red Stripe / Reba
1: Boss Lady II
2: Kastor Pollux
3: Mari’s Leonardo
1: Triple Jack
1: Tortola Express
3: Team Island Water World
1: Smile and Wave
2: Lazy Dog
1: Ferry Tale/Mary Jewell
2: Caribbean Soul
3: Team Cape Fear/No Bad Days
1: The Whalers/Tortola Moon
2: Pretty Girl
3: Ka Wai Ola
Todd VanSickle is a journalist living and working in the Virgin Islands.