It may have been a rainy day for the first day of the BVI Spring Regatta but not enough to take the heat out of today’s racing, which saw 12 classes on three courses enjoy a consistent easterly breeze of 13-15 knots.
Some competitors continued their winning streak of earlier in the week: SPOOKIE, the TP52 owned and skippered by Steve and Heidi Benjamin (USA), took first in CSA-Racing 1 with 3 points; Ventaneiro 3, owned and skippered by Renato Faria (BRA) sits in first in CSA-Performance Cruiser 1 with 2 points; and in CSA-Bareboat 2, Warvor, helmed by Willem Ellemeet (NED) is also in first with 2 points.
For the first time at the BVI Spring Regatta, it was a thrill to see the VX One fleet of 11 blasting up and down on a windward leeward course, along with the 11-strong IC24 fleet. The VX One fleet sailed four races on a 1 NM course, while the IC24s sailed five races on a .8 NM course.
David Sprague, race officer for today’s One Design racing commented, “We had exceptionally tight racing in both fleets, each race ran about 37 to 42 minutes and I think all the finishes were within 3 minutes in each fleet, sometimes as low as 2 minutes between all the boats. Excellent one design racing.”
Tim Pitts, VX One Fleet Chairman and Vice President, sitting in first place on Cruzan Rhode, was pretty pumped up after he got off the water today.
”The racing was great, conditions were perfect with an even, challenging course,” Pitts said. “We had lots of shifts which kept it challenging and really tight racing. When we all got in we immediately had a debrief to tell what the fast boats were doing and what the slow boats were doing so we can make sure everyone’s learning and getting better. Right now we have one guy, Jeff Eiber on This Side Down (USA) – who is really whipping up everybody!”
George Gamble on My Sharona(USA), took second in VX One: “I have an amazing crew who I picked up down here as my regular crew couldn’t make it: Dustan Brennan from Mobile, Alabama, and Chris Brockbank, a 49’er sailor from Tortola who is incredible. Racing today was amazingly tight, but it’s always tight in this fleet. The boats are so explosive downwind you can be back four boats and easily still be in the game.”
The Australian VX One Speedwagon, skippered by Andrew York (AUS) took third overall in the VX One.
Colin Rathbun sailing on Aeropost (BVI), took first in the IC 24 fleet, finishing with 15 points.
He said: “It was pretty windy in the beginning, with these boats you have to ease off a bit. I think we had some speed in the first couple of races and then everybody else started catching up so they tuned up to that pretty quickly.”
Nine year old Samuel Allen, a local Opi sailor who is sails out of St. Thomas was on Aeropost today, as they needed a little extra weight. Said Rathburn, “We hope Sam comes back, it was great to have him on board. He’s going to let us know if we’re good enough to race with him tomorrow!”
Kuliagus II, skippered by Gregory Fink (BVI) took a very close second with 15 points. But the boat to watch in the IC24 fleet is Stinger, who took three bullets and a second, ending up in third with 16 points.
In the CSA-Racing 1 fleet, Soca, the Melges 32 skippered by Luis Juarbe (PUR) expressed concerns about being able to get past SPOOKIE in this regatta.
”Today we had a horrible first race, taking a third – we got caught on the left and there was no way to come back from there. We did spectacular racing on the next two races when there was less breeze. We’ve got the same crew that have sailed since St Maarten, we’ve very much narrowed down the boat handling and speed. We were able to work every single shift, and boat handling-wise, we’re doing everything we’re supposed to be doing. But, I’m just not sure how we’re going to catch SPOOKIE.”
Competing in the CSA-Jib and Main 1 fleet, Avanti, a Hanse 430 skippered by Jeremi Jablonski (USA) took a close second to the Puerto Rican Hanse 455 Cachondo, skippered by Jose Teixidor.
Said Jablonksi: “We’re enjoying the quick transition from the New York office to Caribbean racing. It was a wonderful day although with a lot of rain coming on us which kept things cool. We struggled on our first race, but on the second we were doing what we were supposed to do; hugging the beaches, staying close to the island and we were very happy with the way we sailed. We have 9-year old Max Mirota on board who took over the wheel for a short time today. He just may take the wheel for the rest of the regatta!”
And from the youngest crew to the well-seasoned – Robin Tattersall, aboard Diva, the modified 30-square meter, took third in the CSA-Jib and Main 2 class. Tattersall has lived on Tortola for 50 years and figures he’s sailed the Regatta since its inception; give or take a few races. So, he knows what he’s talking about when it comes to the Spring Regatta. His boat Diva was built in in Germany in 1930 and brought back to the States after the war. In the late 80s and early 90s, Bruce Schwab from San Francisco rebuilt it and in 1996 won the TransPac race on the boat before selling it to Tattersall.
Of today’s race, Tattersall commented: “It was hardly a classic day here. I like a lot of wind, but with the rain as well, it’s not exactly what we really love. The racing was fine, we had a good first race and a rather bad second race. The course was good, going around the islands; Peter Island on our first race and Norman on our second is always great.”
The forecast for tomorrow is for the sun to shine upon the fleet which everyone is looking forward to. Racing starts at 1000.
All photos: Todd VanSickle