Skip to main content

HIHO regatta

"Take your time, nice and slow," said our captain ever time anybody stepped on the dinghy, and it soon became the motto of Bonac Witch, a Moorings 4300 catamaran that served as one of the spectator boats for the 24th annual Highland Spring HIHO Regatta in the British Virgin Islands. For my girlfriend, Taylor, and me, taking it nice and slow was exactly what we
  • Author:
  • Updated:
    Original:

"Take your time, nice and slow," said our captain ever time anybody stepped on the dinghy, and it soon became the motto of Bonac Witch, a Moorings 4300 catamaran that served as one of the spectator boats for the 24th annual Highland Spring HIHO Regatta in the British Virgin Islands. For my girlfriend, Taylor, and me, taking it nice and slow was exactly what we intended, but for the HIHO competition, slow was nowhere on their agenda.

Since it began in 1979, the Highland Spring HIHO, short for Hook-In-Hold-On, has been bringing together sailing and windsurfing for an amazing summer week in the BVI. Windsurfers of all experience levels come seeking adventure; non-windsurfers come too, simply for the experience and a berth on the 4300.

Ten captained Moorings 4300s met the racers and guests at The Moorings base in Road Town, Tortola. My girlfriend, Taylor, and I were assigned to Bonac Witch, a name that to this day I don't know the meaning of. Having never even slept on a boat and never sailed on a catamaran, I was a little concerned about committing to a full week, but after seeing the accommodations and meeting our boatmates, Julian from South Africa and Kode from New York, I chilled out.

We motored out to Saba Rock, opposite the Bitter End Yacht Club, on Virgin Gorda. This tiny island has a restaurant and gift shop, and after a brief orientation by Andy Morrell, who runs HIHO and is a world-class windsurfer himself, the party began with a huge buffet. When we heard that the entire fleet would meet up for a race briefing at 8:30 the next morning, Taylor and I cut our partying short.

After the race meetings each morning, we non-racers would sail to the finish line, always at a secluded beach, and enjoy lunch while waiting for the fleet to arrive. Spectators swam and lay in the sun, while the racers sailed their boards right up to the beach, then jumped offf and ran to touch the finish mark, a flag placed in the sand. More than once, first place came down to a foot race.

The first race finished on Eustacia Island, in Eustacis Sound, and subsequent races took us to The Baths, Little Thatch, Peter Island, Norman Island, Sandy Spit, and more. We spent each night in a different cove and enjoyed dinners at local hotspots throughout the islands. The racecourses involved a mix of difficulty levels. The winds and conditions changed along with the terrain and location in the islands. For me, the second day was especially memorable. The race started near Saba Rock and ended 13 nautical miles away in Anegada. I was very impressed with the racers, who, standing on their boards, were not much taller than the swells as they looked for a flat island whose trees were the only objects in sight. After lunch on the white beaches, the competitive spirit kicked in and the cats raced to Leverick Bay, on Virgin Gorda (our boat won, through no fault of my own).

Related

maintenance

Cruising: Old Sailors Never Die

“Old sailors never die, they just get a little dinghy.” It may be a hoary old joke, but one of my problems at age 79 is I can no longer get easily in and out of a little dinghy, and neither can my (several years younger than me) wife. For this, and various other reasons I will ...read more

01-LEAD-DSC_0953

The Mighty Compass

Here’s to the humble magnetic compass, without a doubt the sailor’s most reliable instrument onboard. It’s always there for you and with the rarest of exceptions, always operational. Yes, I love my chartplotter, autopilot, radar and AIS. They help me be a safer and more ...read more

02-En-route-Jost-Van-D

Chartering: Swan Song in the BVI

Joseph Conrad once wrote, “The sea never changes.” And while this may or not be true, something most definitely not open for debate is the fact we sailors, “wrapped in mystery,” as Conrad put it, are continually changing—whether we like it or not. I found myself thinking these ...read more

220307FP51_1JML0332

Boat Review: Fountaine-Pajot Aura 51

If you can sell more than 150 catamarans off-plan before the resin has even hit the fiberglass, you must be doing something right. Despite costing around $1.1 million once fitted out and on the water, Fountaine-Pajot’s new 51 has done just that. The French yard has been at it ...read more

00LEAD-IMG-9035

Ready to Fly a New Sail

It’s a typical humid, southern Chesapeake Bay summer day when I show up on the doorstep of Latell & Ailsworth Sailmakers in the one-stoplight, one-lane-roadway, rural tidewater town of Deltaville, Virginia. I’m late getting here to work on a new jib for my 29-foot, Bill ...read more

m5702_RACE-AREA-6

Dates for the 2024 America’s Cup Announced

Ever since making the controversial decision to hold the next America’s Cup in Barcelona, Spain, instead of in home waters, Defender Emirates Team New Zealand has been hard at work organizing logistics for the event.  The Racing Area for the Challenger Selection Series and the ...read more

00LEAD

A Force for Change: Captain Liz Gillooly

I first heard about Capt. Liz Gillooly in 2016 from my cousin while working three jobs in our shared hometown on the North Fork of Long Island and living with my parents to save money for a boat. But despite being the same age and growing up only 13 miles apart, Liz and I never ...read more

291726157_3222349914654950_8713674249134934221_n-2-1024x684

Sailing in the Growth Zone

The Goal This year, I’ve had a specific goal to be a better sailor. Some people have laughed and said, “Why do you need to be a better sailor? This was my 22nd year racing on the same boat, with the same crew. I like to win and want to make sure we stay at the top of the fleet. ...read more