Superb racing competition, conditions and camaraderie await sailors of all levels at the BVI Spring Regatta and Sailing Festival. In just six weeks, some 800 sailors and crew from around the world will descend on the beautiful island of Tortola to take advantage of springtime Caribbean race conditions.
“The BVI is the mecca for sailing for three very important reasons,” Bob Phillips, Regatta Chairman said. “With its 64 islands and rocks, you never run out of interesting and challenging places to sail. We have protected water in the Sir Francis Drake Channel where most of the racing is done, so even when trade winds are blowing their normal 15, 18, and 20 knots, you still have comfortable conditions for most sailors with the opportunity for ocean-like conditions if desired. We have it all!”
With all the choices that the BVI has with natural lay marks and islands, Race Committee has multiple course possibilities to tap into, to mix up the racing each race day. Race officers initiate the design of courses on the water to match the tactical conditions, especially in shifting weather so that racing is always challenging.
“Not only is the racing superb, but for those who want to combine a race holiday with cruising before or after, our islands are unbelievably lush, with anchorages every 20 minutes – it’s just a comfortable, beautiful place to sail,” Phillips added.
Some 60% of the BVI Spring Regatta fleet comprises sailors who return year after year, excited for the racing conditions and the opportunity to meet new people as well as reunite with long-time sailing friends.
Jeremy Jablonksi (USA) owner/skipper of the Hanse Avanti has participated in Spring Regatta annually for many years. He won his class last year by just one point over longtime racing friends on the GS52 Cachondo, owned/skippered by Jose Teixidor (PUR). “Racing against Cachondo last year was an amazing play of minds and sail trim, which was fantastic – the Regatta is always challenging and fun for us,” Jablonski noted with his huge enthusiasm.
Most of Pamala Baldwin’s young career racing crew have returned to sail with her this season on her boat Liquid, a J122. Baldwin is a long-time regular on the Caribbean race circuit and prides herself on providing a steppingstone for young sailors to professional racing.
Liquid’s skipper Jules White commented: “Team Liquid are looking forward to the challenging conditions that BVI Spring Regatta delivers every year. It always attracts a competitive fleet for us and the variety of courses throughout the week gives every boat a chance to play their hand. It’s always a favorite for us and a pleasure to race in such beautiful waters.”
Local BVI sailors never tire of their “backyard” racing. Mark Sanders from Tortola will be racing his Corsair 31 Island Hops in which he handily won the Sport Multihull class last year with an 8-point lead.
“I have always enjoyed the BVI Spring Regatta from both a social perspective but more so the actual racing element itself,” Sanders said. “The competition is fierce, with many talented racers from all over participating. Last year’s Round the Island race gave us record breaking conditions of SE 18-24kts, it was a day to remember. We took Island Hops in over 20kts for the first time, under jib and main alone, then rounded the eastern point of Scrub, launched our rather large Code, and took off like a robber’s dog! Island Hops was one of only five boats out of 55 to complete the rounding, which we did in under 3 hours – about the same as the Volvo 70, but on a slightly smaller budget!”
Racing in the highly competitive sports multihull fleet and knowing local conditions intimately, Joe San Martin, from St Croix says the BVI Spring Regatta offers the perfect racing environment. He has raced the event 17 times on Piglet, his 23′ Newick trimaran, the first of the small trimarans to enter the Regatta almost 20 years ago. Since then, local BVI sailors have embraced sports trimarans with some 8 boats expected to compete this year.
Dave Brennan, Principal Race Officer, has been officiating BVI Spring Regatta for almost 20 years. He’s raced all his life, starting in dinghies then big boats in offshore distance racing.
“I’ve been to a lot of different venues and situations and just love racing in the BVI where the sailing is absolutely brilliant – we can sail in crystal-clear deep water right up to huge big rocks that come out of 300 feet of water. We like to mix up the courses to give racers two or three options of rocks to go around – it’s a fun and different kind of approach to decision making and competitors don’t all have to go around same course.”
It’s never too late to register to enjoy the best racing that the Caribbean has to offer – sign up now, BVI Spring Regatta looks forward to seeing you next month!