Big winds, big waves and a big milestone is a great way to describe this year’s BVI Dinghy Championships. Held May 19 and 20 out of the Youth Sailing base at Nanny Cay Marina, Tortola and organized by the Royal BVI Yacht Club (RBVIYC), nearly two dozen sailors from the U.S. the British Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico competed in three classes: Optimist Advanced, Optimist Green and Laser 4.7. The weather proved challenging. Winds blew 12 to 15 knots with occasional gusts over 30 knots with seas five to seven feet both days. Even so, it was the class competition on the water and camaraderie on land that made this year’s event, like those in the past, memorable.
“It was exceptionally windy even for the Virgin Islands, lots of equipment failures, so it was nice the Race Committee helped to make sure we could all race,” says Tanner Krygsveld, from St. Thomas, USVI, who won both the Ages 11- and 12-year old Blue Optimist Fleet as well as Advanced Optimist Overall Class.
Krygsveld, last year’s white fleet winner, skillfully won five of 11 races. However, it was not all smooth sailing.
“I had to retire after capsizing in the second race on the first day,” he says. “That’s when focusing got really serious for me. I changed strategy every race to match the changing wind patterns.”
Krygsveld’s fellow St. Thomas sailor Andy Yu finished second in the Opti Advanced Overall and Blue Fleet, while St. John’s Winn Majette rounded out third place Overall and first in the Ages 13- to 15-year-old Red Fleet.
The Race Committee attempted to bring the Optimist Green Fleet out into the more challenging conditions of the Sir Francis Drake Channel. However, they soon opted to set up the course in the relative calm of Nanny Cay Marina in the area where once there were docks prior to September’s hurricanes. This is where St. Thomas, USVI’s Coby Fagan won all but five of the 18 races run, finishing in the top five in the rest.
“I enjoyed sailing outside the marina for one race and sailing in the marina for the others. It was really shifty in the marina,” says Fagan, whose winning strategy included rounding the marks as tight as possible and keeping his head out of the boat to look for the next puffs. “I also really liked the coaches because they helped me when my boom vang kept coming off. I raced three races with it off!”
The BVI’s Victoria Rowlette and Amanda Plaxton, who both come from well-known sailing families, finished second and third, respectively, in the Opti Green Fleet.
The BVI’s Paul Johnson won the Laser class.
Trophies were handmade from recycled materials damaged by Hurricane Irma. More specifically, the Opti and Laser replicas were crafted out of a shutter from Government House and pieces of the Royal BVI Yacht Club deck.
“This year’s regatta is a significant milestone for us and it’s taken a huge effort to get our youth program back on the water since Irma and Maria took out over 80 percent of our fleet,” says Tamsin Rand, RBVIYC secretary. “We knew it would be a much smaller regatta than in recent years when we’ve had over 70 boats racing but we were determined to go ahead. It was great to see the young sailors relishing the wind and waves.”
For full results, visit: www.regattanetwork.com/event/16684#_newsroom
Carol M. Bareuther, RD, is a St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands based marine writer and registered dietitian.