Seventy boats and five days of outstanding racing in champagne BVI conditions concluded on Sunday with a fabulous firework display presented by the BVI Government in celebration of the successful conclusion of the 50th Anniversary of the BVI Spring Regatta and Sailing Festival.
Hundreds of competitors, their families, and friends as well as many from the local community enjoyed the fabulous hospitality shown by long-time host sponsor Nanny Cay Resort and Marina.
His Excellency the Governor John Rankin, and the Honourable Natalio Wheatley welcomed guests to the BVI, and praised the efforts of the Regatta organizing committee for fifty years of outstanding effort in staging the largest tourist event held annually in the BVI.
Congratulations go to 92-year-old BVI local Dr. Robin Tattersall, racing on Makin Memories, a Sunsail 41 in Bareboat 2 division for getting out on the water once again. “When you are my age, it’s tempting fate to say you are coming back, so I don’t!” Tattersall laughed. “Our class was quite competitive and quite close; we did get a second today which was our best result.” Tattersall helmed some half of the races throughout the regatta, sailing with local friends including his long-time crew Pat Bailey whom he has sailed with for over forty years.
In CSA 1 Racing, first place went to Dr. Laura Schlessinger from California, USA, sailing on the Lombard 46 Pata Negra.
She said, “The racing was fantastic; yesterday we took a race by one second and I think the day before we lost a race by a second. It took us a few days to get used to the boat and as a driver it’s different with the two wheels and rudders and running back and forth,” Schlessinger laughed. “But we’re a good team. We sailed in this beautiful territory and whether we won or not we would have gone home thinking that we had a great experience. I was just happy that we came here and now I’m even happier!”
Long-time BVI Spring Regatta competitor Peter Corr from St Thomas, USVI, took first in CSA Racing 2 on Blitz, his Summit 40. “It feels fantastic to have won, we had a great regatta, the competition was unbelievable, it was seconds and minutes,” Corr enthused. “The event is so well organized and put together, it’s really great. It’s important to know that you can’t have these events without so many people giving their time and effort to make it happen.”
Jaime Torres, skipper and owner of Smile and Wave, winner of CSA Racing 3 and another loyal Spring Regatta competitor said: “It felt great to win in class in the 50th Anniversary edition, we sure worked hard for a long time for this. We feel lucky to get the win and we’re super stoked. We didn’t do anything special today because we didn’t have to win another race. We just needed to stay in the game, sail conservatively and play our cards right, which we did.”
An exciting battle in Sport Multihull division between father and son Chris and Nathan Haycraft resulted in Haycraft senior taking the win over his son by just two points. Nathan, sailing on Ting-A-Ling, a Corsair F27, said: “It was kind of surreal in the beginning to be doing so well against my dad. It was more of an honour to be honest because I have been racing with him for so long and to finally be on the opposing side was really cool, we really enjoyed racing against him. Our racing is what made us do so well because he is the much faster boat. We really loved it, there was great energy on the boat, and we had a blast, the wind was perfect, and conditions were beautiful.”
Coco De Mer, the Gunboat 66, took first in Performance Multihull. Tactician Tim Thurbon said, “It’s been a brilliant few days and it felt fantastic to win, this is my first time sailing in the BVI and today we were hitting 24 knots downwind, the three of us together on the start line short tacking, it doesn’t get any better. Everyone has been so friendly, most days we’ve had some gear failure which is the nature of racing in this kind of wind, and we’ve had lots of help from the other teams.”
Javier Rodriquez, bowman on board Lady M, from Dominican Republic and racing in Performance Cruising A, “It felt wonderful to win – we were tied with Paroma yesterday and we took a first and third today which was enough to win. It’s been twenty years since we raced here, and we hope to come back again. It’s been an excellent week, good conditions although we did blow the spinnaker halyard yesterday so had to replace that last night and repair the spinnaker – but we still won!”
Bart de Wit, skipper for Team Ned Orange from the Netherlands and racing on a Sunsail 41 in Bareboat 2, said, “It feels perfect to win – we had two days which were really perfect, of course, the crew, the manoeuvres, the wind, our last day was a bit hard but maybe it was because of the party last night,” laughs, We certainly have had a great regatta, it’s our first time here, the wind was two days was good for us 20 knots, today was a little less and we really need 20 knots for this boat.”
In the Cruising Multihull class, Georges Coutu on his Leopard 50 La Novia won every race sailed, “It’s great for us, we wanted to win the three big regattas: Caribbean Multihull Challenge, the Heineken Regatta and the BVI Spring Regatta – winning this one completes the dream that I had of winning all three. Competition was very strong, and I liked that every day we had to fight to make it.”
Every year the Regatta presents the Guy Eldridge Spirit of Enthusiasm Award to an individual or individuals who shine in the spirit of the sport and who has stepped out and gone beyond. This year the award was presented to Richard Wooldridge and Steve Davis, for their persistence, hard work and commitment to journey rebuilding the Kelsall 47 Triple Jack. She finally was able to race this week for the first time after being wrecked following Hurricane Irma.
For Judy Petz, Regatta Director, the event is always all about the people, noting that at long last it feels that the event is almost back to a normal sense of the way things usually are.
“Seventy boats, good friends who have returned, new friends here for the first time, and being able to hug some great sailors on the stage as they receive their awards, it was perfect. And the wind; you can work really hard all year long and if you don’t get a good breeze, it can change the whole event – this year the winds were spectacular. We are also so grateful to our sponsors who graciously shared the event on their social platforms – we couldn’t do this without them. The fireworks tonight were sponsored by the BVI Government and what a fabulous way to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of this fantastic sailing event.” – Michelle Slade