Skipper Randy West, a familiar figure along the docks in Saint Barth, will be at the helm of a boat called Van Ki Pass, and flying the colors of the Saint Barth Yacht Club in the centennial edition of the famous Newport-Bermuda Race, when the oldest offshore regatta in America sets sail from Newport, R.I. on June 16, 2006. Organized by the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club and the Cruising Club of America, this race is one of the most prestigious regattas in the world, with Her Royal Highness, Princess Anne of England, scheduled to be in Bermuda for the prize-giving ceremonies.
“The name of the boat is Creole for Passing Wind,” says West, who has already left Saint Barth for Newport, where he is getting the boat ready for the race. The idea for a Saint Barth crew came from Liza Baldwin, an American who hails from Newport, and who spent much of the winter in Saint Barth. She became a member of the Saint Barth Yacht Club and sailed almost daily with West on a small, chartered boat. “Liza found Passing Wind for sale in Rhode Island and chartered it for the race,” West says. “She wanted to race with a crew from the island. The entire crew will be in Newport two weeks before the race, and we’ll do the Onion Patch, a weekend regatta starting on June 12, to warm up before the big race.”
The boat is like brand new, has only sailed about 600 miles in its life, and has been in storage for several years. “We are currently in the process of commissioning the boat and getting all the systems up and running, including new sails and a new engine,” West adds. Racing for the Gibbs Hill Lighthouse Trophy, West has high hopes for this boat. “We’ll be racing against the pros, he says. “It’s like the Grand Prix but if we get the rating we want, we can win it.”