Many of this year’s participants in the BVI Spring Regatta and Sailing Festival made their way ashore today to register for a week of world-class racing out of Nanny Cay.
The marina is alive with activity – old friends catching up and first-timers partaking of the infamous Mount Gay rum drinks at the beach bar. With the breeze looking light for Tuesday’s annual Round Tortola Race, Bob Phillips, Regatta Chairman is recommending a shorter course to ensure racers have an opportunity to get out on the water.
”The breeze is supposed to be out of the south so it looks like the perfect race is likely to be around Norman and Peter Islands, a 7-8 mile course as we want to get racers out AND back,” Phillips said. “People are here to race and we want to be sure that they have some good racing rather than parked on the north side of the island. The beauty of the BVI is that we have lots of islands we can send them around – it might not be around Tortola, but it will be around an island somewhere!”
Newcomer to the Regatta this year is the X41 Godspeed, from Austria. Skipper Peter Steinkogler, formerly a chief sailing instructor for the BMW Sail Racing Academy, runs Godspeed, a sail racing academy in Austria. SteinKogler and Godspeed have had quite the adventure making it to Spring Regatta, after crossing the Atlantic in November with the ARC (Atlantic Rally for Cruisers) from Las Palmas to St Lucia and finishing third after hitting a whale and landing a $10,000 repair bill.
Godspeed continued racing in Barbados, then competed in the Barbados to Antiqua race which they won. They also competed in the RORC Caribbean 600 and the Heineken Regatta. New crew have joined the boat for Spring Regatta and will spend 2-3 days of training prior to racing later this week.
”The BVI is marvellous, I just love the conditions here and the people are really friendly here in these islands,” Steinkogler said. “But, as a European person you have to adjust your time schedule because here there is island time…once you overcome this, it’s terrific!”
Sam of Hamble, the Sigma 38 co-owned by Peter Hopps and Serena Alexander, returns to the BVI Spring Regatta for the fifth time, this year with two BVI virgins on board.
”We took second in class last year but with newbies on board, there’s no telling how we’ll do this year,” Hopps joked. “We’ll just sail as well as we can, as fast as we can.”
Sam of Hamble is named after Alexander’s son Sam who was killed in Afghanistan in 2011, and the boat was purchased as a training boat for the London Corinthian Sailing Club. Alexander said, “What better inheritance can Sam have than his name being all over the world teaching people how to sail and have adventures.”
Scotty Bradford is boat captain on Elvis, the Gunboat 62 owned by Jason Carroll, based out of Newport, RI. This is Bradford’s first time racing multihulls having spent many years racing maxi boats, and he’s a big fan already. “After this, I’m not going back to monohulls, I can tell you that! This does everything I want to do.” Bradford’s been instrumental in organizing the Gunboat fleet to race, like putting together the rating rules which hasn’t been easy.
”It’s starting to gel and we’re getting enough boats that it’s now fun and everyone’s getting more serious about it – upgrading equipment etc. Everyone’s beginning to sow their oats a little bit and feel more comfortable – these boats aren’t as scary as they are made out to be. We’re flying a hull now and feel comfortable doing it and everybody else is getting there.”
Elvis has been leading the Gunboat pack winning most regattas this past year but Bradford thinks they may get a wakeup call here in the BVI. “H2O is by far the best boat from the West Coast (USA) and I think they’re going to be really fast, and for their first regatta ever, HH 66 just sailed really well in St Thomas and are also looking good…”
Nonetheless, there’s plenty of work to be done on these big multihull racing machines and Bradford’s team will be working on fitting a new sail before racing begins.
”We’re excited to have a lot more boats here and especially at these new docks at Nanny Cay,” he said. “I love racing here in the BVI!”