BVI 2013: In Like a Lamb, Out Like a Lion

The 2013 BVI Spring Regatta kicked off in tourist-brochure conditions and ended in an action-packed day of winds gusting to 30-plus knots and blinding rainsqualls. It wasn’t the kind of day you’d want to take the family out in, but it was perfect for hardcore sailboat racing.
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 Aiyana on her way to a Tortola record (top); the regatta began under sunny skies (above)

Aiyana on her way to a Tortola record (top); the regatta began under sunny skies (above)

The 2013 BVI Spring Regatta kicked off in tourist-brochure conditions and ended in an action-packed day of winds gusting to 30-plus knots and blinding rainsqualls. It wasn’t the kind of day you’d want to take the family out in, but it was perfect for hardcore sailboat racing. Among those who thrived in the conditions were Debbie Classen’s venerable Tartan 10 Windemon, which ran away from the competition in Spinnaker Racing 2, and Harold Keating’s J/95 Shamrock VII in Performance Cruising 2.

Other winners were Hammett Hill’s Marten 49 Defiance in Performance Cruiser 1, Robert Beltrano’s Swan 53 Nai’a in Jib & Main 1, the C&C 41 Reba in Jib & Main 2, and Sergio Sagramoso’s J/122 Lazy Dog in Spinnaker Racing 1, cruising to an easy win in Spinnaker Racing 1. In the Melges fleet, the BVI crew of INTAC, helmed by James Plaxton, prevailed after some tough competition.

Even among a crowded schedule of Caribbean regattas that takes up a good deal of March and April, the BVI Spring Regatta is a unique event. The three days of the actual regatta are preceded by a three-day Sailing Festival, which this year began with a 37-mile Round Tortola race that provided an ideal opportunity for crews to get into the racing groove.

In years past this regatta always attracted a competitive group of maxi-racers, but they slowly dwindled away during the recession years, and this time the only 70-plus foot boat in the fleet was Peter Corr’s luxurious Alia 82 Aiyana, which stretched out as the breeze filled in to finish in 3 hours, 29 minutes an 44 seconds, lopping more than 30 minutes off the previous record.

 The author (green shirt) and the crew of Team Merlin/Kief battle the elements on Day 3

The author (green shirt) and the crew of Team Merlin/Kief battle the elements on Day 3

Just about a third of the total spring regatta fleet is comprised of charter boats sailing in two bareboat classes. These are no less tightly contested than any other racing classes, and the Round Tortola race was a perfect example; after five hours of racing, just 20 seconds separated the Sunsail Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 44 Dundee and its Dutch crew led by Radboul Crul, and the Sunsail Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 409 Team Merlin/Kief, helmed by Charlie Garrard with a crew of Marblehead, Massachusetts, sailors that included SAIL editor Peter Nielsen.

These two would go on to do battle throughout the entire regatta, swapping the lead until the final day when the Team Merlin crew won the final two heavy-air races to take not only the series but the International Yacht Club Challenge prize of a one-week Sunsail charter. The New Bedford, Massachusetts, team The Whalers, also sailing a Sunsail 41, took a solid third place after an equally competitive series.

In Bareboat 1, again packed with Dutch teams, Team Aquaholics took the win on a Moorings Beneteau 50.5.

Nanny Cay Marina was the sponsor and host marine for the series, and the venue for five nights of solid partying that was only slightly dampened by the persistent rain showers on the last two days. For complete results, click here

Photos courtesy of BVI Spring Regatta

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