The seas off Nanny Cay Marina were awash with sails the first weekend in May as the British Virgin Islands welcomed its biggest small boat regatta of the year, the BVI Dinghy Championships. Nearly 60 IC-24s, Lasers and Optimists collectively sailed 28 races on windward-leeward courses. Winds uncharacteristically blew out of the southwest, sometimes dropping to near nothing, so boat speed meant everything in terms of winning.
The IC-24s represented the smallest class with three boats. The BVI’s Colin Rathbun, aboard Fiona, easily led, but not without losing one race each to fellow competitors Jon Charlton aboard RIP and Chris Haycraft helming Latitude 19.
“We kept cool making good consistent decisions and had good starts,” says Rathbun, who races most Friday nights out of the Prospect Reef Marina, where the BVI’s IC-24 fleet is based.
In Lasers, it was St. Martin’s Rhône Findlay who won the Radial division while St. Thomas’ Mark van den Driessche topped the Standards. For van den Driessche, the Championships were a family affair.
“My win? Old age and cunning!” says van den Driessche, whose seven and 11-year-old sons sailed in the Optimist Green and Optimist Advanced fleets, respectively. “I entered to show my kids that sailing is something that we can do as a family and it is a sport they can potentially do well past their teens.”
The Optimist fleets were by far the largest of the regatta with 43 boats.
St. Thomas’ Teddy Nicolosi topped both the Opti Overall as well as the 11 to 12-year-old Blue Fleet with first place finishes in all but one race.
“I had my sail rigged correctly and tested the course so I could know where the shifts were in the upwinds,” says Nicolosi. “I hope this regatta will help me do well in the North Americans in Bermuda and Worlds in Italy this summer.”
The BVI’s Jason Putley, who will also compete in the 2013 Optimist Worlds, won the 13 to 15-year-old Red Fleet.
“My win came down to being constant,” Putley says. “Constancy is the most important thing while sailing. If you are not constant you will never have good results in regattas.”
In the ten-and-under White Fleet, the BVI’s Rayne Duff finished first.
“I feel like confidence gives me the ability to win my age group,” says Duff. “I practice like I race, so I’m very comfortable racing.”
Finally, it was St. John’s Victoria Flatley who won the impressive 18-boat Beginner Green fleet.
“We had an enormous Green fleet which, as an organizer, is always a pleasure to see,” says regatta director, Andy Morrell. “The Green fleet is the foundation of the Optimist racing program and, by all accounts, the future in the VI is bright!”
Carol M. Bareuther, RD, is a St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands based marine writer and registered dietitian.