With six Gunboats confirmed to race the 2017 BVI Spring Regatta, the competition dial has been seriously notched up for one of the best Caribbean racing events under the sun. In the line-up are: Gunboat 60 Arethusa, Gunboat 62 Elvis, Gunboat 66 Extreme H2O, Gunboat 60 Flow, Gunboat 60 Momentum, and Gunboat 55 Thirst.
The Gunboat fleet has been racing together for over a decade in the Caribbean, Northeast and Mediterranean. Approximately a third of the 30+ Gunboats in circulation, which range from 48′-90′, race competitively, according to Meredith Erickson, Gunboat class co-organizer, and this year the fleet has chosen to participate in the BVI Spring Regatta.
Said Erickson, “I’m very glad Spring Regatta has gotten the traction in the fleet that we hoped it would. We all know this will be an outstanding event and are hopeful that other Gunboats and high-performance multihulls will also decide to join the fun.”
Among the BVI Spring Regatta Gunboat fleet is a diverse range of racing experience as well as boats more optimized than others for racing. Nonetheless, the boats participating see this as a great opportunity to line-up together in optimum conditions for these fast multihulls.
Elvis, owned by Jason Carroll is slated to be the fleet’s top contender having regularly cleaned up the playing field over the past few seasons, while Momentum is literally fresh out of the yard. Said Lucky Mike, Momentum boat captain, “Racing? We’ve only had the main up about half a dozen times…”
Momentum is the first sailboat for owner Frederick Moe who will be racing Spring Regatta for his first time. With barely sea trials under her belt and a short cruise to the Bahamas, boat captain Lucky Mike has expectations in check, commenting: “Momentum is a new boat, we have a new crew and hope that BVI Spring Regatta will give us a chance to test it all and see what she can do…oh, and of course, the fun is really what it’s all about!”
Flow is a four-year old Gunboat which has been owned by Stephen Cucchiaro for the past two, during which time he has modified it for racing. The crew on Flow will also be testing new equipment, according to boat captain Tony Teale, “It’s going to be a big push for us because the new rig is only just now going in, so the boat is very un-tested.”
This past summer they have lined up against other Gunboats, with Elvis consistently leading the pack.
”Elvis is the most competitive and is always very well sailed so they generally win, “Teale commented. “In the right conditions, they’ll have her up on a hull sailing her like a small beach cat – it’s exciting!”
Malcom Park, Extreme H20 project manager has had the pleasure of taking H20 to new levels of development to optimize performance, modifications which have since been adopted by other Gunboats.
”We were the first Gunboat to have aft tiller steering, aft main sheet controls, curved daggerboards, T-rudders and the first Gunboat 66/62 to have a rotating wing mast,” Park said. “We want a light cruising boat which will perform on a race course so we’ve been refining all of those things since the boat launched.”
Park thinks the Gunboat fleet will be very close with much of the outcome coming down to sails and teamwork. “With the right sails for the condition, and the crew who can deploy that sail in time, it’ll come down to sailing the boat,” Park said. Either way, he’s also betting Elvis will hold the bar at the highest level. “Without a doubt, they’ll be the toughest team we face out there,” Park said.
Phil Lotz bought Arethusa new just over 18 months ago. She’s the first multihull he’s owned although he’s had smaller boats like a Melges 32 and enjoyed many successes on his Swan 42, including previous BVI Spring Regatta events.
Of his new boat, Lotz said, “We decided that the Gunboats were a great cruising platform, fun on a racecourse and importantly, didn’t take a lot of people to do either. As well, they are as fast if not faster than a big monohull.”
Lotz says he’s still learning the boat and getting up to speed driving, “It seems simple but there’s a lot to it. It’s a very powerful boat so you don’t take anything for granted, but it’s fun and it’s fast!”
Nils Erickson, co-organizer of the Gunboat fleet, is looking forward to having the fleet together in the BVI: “Nanny Cay is constantly improving their facilities and BVI Spring Regatta has just gotten better each year. Between the deeper water channel and now the new marina and villa expansion, the facilities are top notch. Combine that with the world’s best playground for sailing and an unbeatable Regatta Village right on the beach, it makes for a fantastic event.”