Sailing and windsurfing in the BVI

Highland Spring HIHO 2008

The Highland Spring HIHO brings sailing and windsurfing together for one amazing week every year in the British Virgin Islands, when windsurfers travel down to the islands from around the world, to join friends and family; others join the adventure solely for the experience. And it’s an experience like no other. The core of the event is the series of daily windsurfing races, but it’s much more than that.

A fleet of captained Moorings catamarans serve as home base, as do many of the islands, where everyone gets the opportunity to play in the water, hang out during lunch on isolated beaches, and chow down at local hot spots each night. British windsurfer David Burch and his wife, Pauline, who attended this year say that it’s the people—windsurfers, sailors, and spectators, from places as near as St. Martin and as far as Australia—that make the week so great.

HIHO is run by Andy Morrell, a lifelong BVI resident. It’s always held the first week of July, a time known to have great windsurfing conditions, and this year the wind held steady at 15–20 knots every day. Morrell says, “This year seemed better than ever. This has been a great week. I think it’s the dream of every windsurfer. It’s 150 miles of fabulous windsurfing through the islands, and we were very lucky with the conditions.”

This event started off at the Bitter End Yacht Club and Saba Rock and made its way to about a dozen islands. The second day’s race was 13 miles to Anegada, with the catamarans following behind. After lunch the competitive spirit kicked in, and the cats raced to Leverick Bay, Virgin Gorda, with everyone onboard. Also on the itinerary were The Baths, Trellis Bay (Tortola), Peter Island, and Sandy Cay.

Brazilian pro windsurfer Wilhelm Schurmann won the top spot, taking first in each of the seven races. Not far behind him was Stuart Jennings, a 16-year-old from the Cayman Islands, in sixth. Jennings plans to return in 2009 with his brother, who will be 15 then (the minimum age for competing).

It was a successful event for all involved. The courses were a good mix of difficulty levels, the sailing was steady, and locales were just what you’d imagine paradise would be. Ed Sparrow, from title sponsor Highland Spring, attends every year. “Events like this just don’t happen,” he says. “A tremendous amount of planning is required to make sure everything runs like clockwork. And it does. Andy and his team have put on a fantastic week.”

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