Oysters on A dock. Click to enlargeOn Monday morning revellers from the closing party of the 2012 BVI Spring Regatta had barely left the Regatta Village when the Nanny Cay crew had to go into full clean up mode and clear the docks for 24 Oysters as they arrived for their bi-annual Oyster Regatta BVI.

They arrived throughout the day and the event kicked off with a skippers briefing in PegLegs late afternoon, followed by a welcome party on the beach.

Despite predictions of little wind for the first race yesterday, a light easterly breeze got racing underway, right on schedule for the Lewmar sponsored race to Cane Garden Bay. Oyster CEO, David Tydeman acting as Race Officer for the week, chose to send the Oyster fleet on an 11-mile course with a downwind start heading west from Nanny Cay.

The dramatic passageway between Tortola and St John was an impressive sight, as colourful spinnakers were hoisted aloft in bright sunshine. The impressive Oyster fleet enjoyed a relaxed start to the regatta, gliding through crystal blue waters at a gentle pace. After passing West End and Soper’s Hole, fresher conditions from the north ensured an invigorating tight reach passed Soper’s Hole. An exhilarating ride to picturesque Sandy Cay near Jost Van Dyke marked the end of a thoroughly enjoyable race.

Skippers briefing in PegLegsIn Class 2, Ross Appleby’s Oyster LW48, Scarlet Oyster was the eventual winner but only just, eight seconds separated the vintage Oyster from John McTigue’s Oyster 56, Blue Dreams. Stephen and Aileen Hyde’s Oyster 56, A Lady had a splendid duel with Blue Dreams right around the course to claim third place. A special mention for the Oyster 55, Xiuma owned by Virginia Lee and Jonathan Wehrung, who are making their debut at an Oyster Regatta and showed great spirit and goodwill by completing the course, no doubt these attributes will stand them in good stead and improve their boat speed during the week.

In Class 1, Oyster 82, Starry Night of the Caribbean got the best start of the day but it was another Oyster 82 that was victorious. William B Dockser’s Ravenous was extremely quick today finishing three minutes ahead of their close rival the Oyster 82 Rivendell of Wight, owned by Robin and Carla Stoop. Chris and Susan Shea’s beautiful Oyster 72, Magrathea claimed third.

Oyster fleet heading west from Nanny Cay. Photo: Oyster Marine/Yachtshots BVIRacing in Class 2, Angela and Richard Parkinson are the proud owners of Oyster 575, Sophistikate, which was launched last summer. Joining them for the regatta is their son Oscar who is studying for his A-levels along with Sophistikate’s Oyster Project Manager, Paul Griffiths.

“Our previous yacht was an Oyster 46, which we owned for five years and cruised out of Ramsgate, Kent to destinations in France and occasionally further afield.” Explains Richard. “We loved the yacht and really enjoyed sailing her but we wanted to explore more of the world under sail and when the Oyster 575 became available, it was just the ideal set up for us. Working with Paul (Griffiths) our Project Manager at Oyster, we made certain personal changes to the original design, including a bunk for Oscar that converts to a sofa and various other small but important details. By planning the layout of the yacht before it is built, we have tailored-made features that compliment the appearance but actually cost very little to implement.”

Angela, Richard and Oscar Parkinson crossed the Atlantic with Sophistikate in the 2011 ARC and it was a fantastic experience, as Angela explains: “To be honest I was very nervous about the trip and would never have even considered crossing a vast ocean in anything but a totally reliable yacht but it was a ‘life changing experience’ and I thoroughly enjoyed our 16 days at sea.”

Sophistikate’s start to the regatta did not go according to plan, a problem with the spinnaker furler resulted in a retirement from the race. However, Matthew Vincent of Dolphin Sails had already anticipated their need for assistance and was ready to come aboard as soon as Sophistikate arrived in Cane Garden Bay. Matthew was greeted like an old friend when he came on board and he took his time not only to fix the problem but also enjoy a cold beer with the Parkinson’s after the job was done. Young Oscar took the opportunity afforded by the maintenance work to go for an adrenalin pumping wakeboard session much to the admiration of the Oyster fleet anchored in the bay.

The evening’s entertainment was provided with perfection; cocktails on the beach, watching the sun set over Jost Van Dyke was a relaxing way to finish the day. The staff at Myett’s beachside restaurant provided an enthusiastic welcome, as they happily served drinks and delicious appetisers to the Oyster family. A splendid barbeque was to follow, with a traditional pig roast and other Caribbean delights such as baked plantain, local fish and for the slightly more adventurous goat curry, The atmosphere for the first Oyster party of the regatta was made even more magical, with the smooth sounds of an excellent jazz band playing soulful classics from the likes of Grosvenor Washington Jnr and Quincy Jones.

Racing at the Oyster Regatta BVI continues today with an 18-mile race to the idyllic Virgin Gorda in the North Sound.