The 2017 BVI Dinghy Championships will take place on 20-21 May at Nanny Cay. With over 50 entries from five countries expected, it is shaping to be a great weekend.
The Nanny Cay beach will be a hive of activity from Friday afternoon as sailors arrive to set up their boats and get out on the water for a practice sail.
Sailors from Antigua, the Cayman Islands, Puerto Rico, St Croix and St Thomas are expected to join the BVI team on the water. and will also be crowning the winner of the 2017 VIODA Triple Crown so read on to find out who to look out for.
Optimist Championship Fleet
Defending Champion, Mia Nicolosi from St Thomas will be returning to try and re-claim her crown. With wins at the Pan Pepin Regatta in Puerto Rico and the Crucian Open in St Croix and 23rd place at the 2017 Opti South American Championships she is a tough act to beat. Nicolosi pipped BVI sailor Rayne Duff to the post by just one point in 2016 with neither sailor letting anyone else get a look-in for first or second place.
The Nicolosi – Duff battle was a regular theme from last season but it’s a different story this year with several other sailors challenging for the top spots.
The winner of the VIODA regatta in St Thomas last month was top Puerto Rican sailor Jose Arturo Diaz. Diaz also picked up second at the Pan Pepin Regatta, fourth at the Crucian Open and 37th at the South Americans. Caroline Sibilly from St Thomas Yacht Club has also raced a consistent season so far this year, placing second at the Crucian Open and VIODA so is not to be ruled out for a podium spot.
The home team will be represented by Samuel Allen, Kael Chalwell, Antonio Cisneros, Rayne Duff, Nathan Haycraft and Ryan Lettsome.
Samuel Allen made the transition to the championship fleet in January this year and continues to improve with every regatta culminating in a tenth place at the recent VIODA Championships. He was joined in the Championship fleet by Kael Chalwell and Antonio Cisneros in April so they will both be looking to make their mark on the fleet as well.
Nathan Haycraft has had a mixed season, finishing fifth at the Pan Pepin Regatta, third at VIODA and 6th at MLK. He is however still firmly at the top of the blue fleet classification, claiming that title in Puerto Rico, second in St Croix and MLK.
18 seems to be the number for Ryan Lettsome this season – the position he has finished at two regattas so far – and he’ll be looking to improve on that result.
Rayne Duff dominated the first regatta of 2017, the MLK, with seven race wins from nine and finished fourth at VIODA but has been focussing on other projects this year so regatta organizers are looking forward to seeing if he can reclaim the form that saw him dominate for so many seasons.
The Optimist Green Fleet is for those new to racing and a great stepping stone from learning how to sail to fine tuning those techniques and getting the racing bug. Sailors from St Croix, Puerto Rico and the BVI will be hitting the race course and using a simplified form of the racing rules.
The home team includes Amanda Plaxton, Victoria Rowlette and Wil Seddon and are expected o be joined by some other sailors making their green fleet debut next weekend.
Six sailors are expected to compete in the Laser Radial Class. The home team are Stephon Ganga, Noah George, Jerome Parkins and Alex Rambarose and they will face stiff competition from Antigua’s Daniel Smit and St Thomas’ Mateo di Blasi.
Di Blasi, Smit and George have all posted podium finishes in local regattas in the 4.7 over the past year and all three have now made the transition to the Radial. Di Blasi won the 4.7 class at the BVI Back to School Regatta in 2016 ahead of Noah George and Daniel Smit was second at the 2016 Antigua Laser Nationals.
Of the other home team sailors, Parkins and Ganga have been duelling it out for the top spot for some time and favouring the windier conditions, they will be hoping for a solid breeze next weekend. Rambarose will be racing at his first BVI Dinghy Champs in the Laser Radial and it’s a tough pick on who is going to come out on top.
VIODA Triple Crown
The race is also on for the 2017 VIODA Triple Crown. The BVI Dinghy Championships is the final regatta in the series and sailors will add together their scores from the Crucian Open in St Croix in February and the VIODA regatta in St Thomas in April.
35 sailors have attended one or both of these regattas with the front runners all registered to compete here in the BVI. With 19 races already sailed, the scores from each race are added together and a discard applied after every six races so they don’t count their worst scores.
Top of the pile is Caroline Sibilly from the St Thomas Yacht Club who has put in consistent performances this year and is counting 49 points. Eight points behind her is Jose Artuo Diaz from Puerto Rico and Julian van den Driessche also from St Thomas in third.
Top BVI sailor is Samuel Allen in 13th place with 221 points, one spot ahead of Nathan Haycraft who has 225 points.
With some of the top names in Opti sailing from the region not figuring at the top of the leaderboard so far, the costly effects of missing a regatta are evident. 2016 champion Mia Nicolosi from St Thomas and 2015 Champion Rayne Duff have both only raced at one of the two regattas held so far so will have a lot to do at the BVI Dinghy Championships if they want to get close to a top spot.
Hosted by the Royal BVI Yacht Club at Nanny Cay, Tortola the 2017 edition is open to entries in Optimist Championship, Optimist Green, Laser, Laser Radial and Laser 4.7 classes.