Regatta Time in the BVI

Author:
Updated:
Original:
Team Merlin pushes hard to windward at the 2015 BVI Spring Regatta

Team Merlin pushes hard to windward at the 2015 BVI Spring Regatta

There’s no bad time to charter in the British Virgin Islands. You’ll get your dose of sun, sea and breeze whatever time of year you visit. To me, though, the BVI are at their best around the end of March—just about when the Northeast, where I live, is emerging yawning and stretching from its blanket of winter snow. There is nothing that gets you in the mood for a new season’s sailing at home more than taking part in the BVI Spring Regatta.

The BVISR isn’t just for high-ticket raceboats crewed by pros and semi-pros, though there are plenty of those around. ­It also has a thriving bareboat class, where everyday sailors can charter a boat for a week and indulge in some warm-weather racing around the islands.

Bareboat racing can be as serious as you want it to be, or as relaxed. The serious guys pack light, run the boats with empty water tanks and scrub the bejasus out of the boat’s bottom. Under class rules you have to keep the anchor and chain aboard, and cannot modify the boat beyond removing the bimini and stowing it down below. You can de-rig your boat’s mainsail stack pack, but it has to remain attached to the boom.

The crux of bareboat racing is to make your tubby cruiser, complete with (usually) tired sails, go faster than your rivals’ equally tubby boats. Boats are split into classes according to size, and races are run under a handicap system that, like all such systems, always seems to penalize whatever boat you’re on. Knowledgeable bareboat racers tend to book boats that are known to be fast, or ones numerous enough to be given a class of their own.

One of the best things about bareboat racing is that it’s a truly international affair. We’ve had knock-down-drag-out battles with crews from the Netherlands, Russia, the Ukraine, Germany and Puerto Rico, as well as fellow Americans. Some we’ve lost, others we’ve won; either way we’ve had a hell of a lot of fun.

Last March, our crew, Team Merlin, won all our eight races in the regatta and the sailing festival that preceded it on a Sunsail Jeanneau 44i. These have long been the preferred weapons of the serious bareboat racers; they have their own one-design class at the Heineken regatta in St. Maarten that precedes the BVISR. The Moorings 43 class is another strong one. You can have fun, and a chance at the podium, on just about any boat if you sail it well, though.
[advertisement]
Not all charter companies will let you race their boats, for obvious reasons. However, boat-on-boat collisions are rare, thanks perhaps to the requirement for a hefty damage waiver deposit. SAIL has campaigned boats from Sunsail, the Moorings and Marinemax; check with your preferred company to see if they’ll let you race their boats. The BVISR website (bvispringregatta.org) is another good resource.

CHARTER CHAT

The Moorings has introduced the Beneteau Oceanis 38, winner of a SAIL Best Boats award, into its BVI fleet. The Moorings 38.2, as it’s known, provides spacious accommodations for two couples or a small family, combined with good sailing performance. You might get a deal on it in the Moorings New Year’s Eve Sale; go to moorings.com on January 4 to check out the specials.

‘Tis the season for new boats. Horizon Yacht Charters has commissioned a new Bavaria 51 in its BVI base, along with a Bavaria (Nautitech) Open 40 catamaran. And a Beneteau 37.2 has joined the Grenadines fleet, at Horizon’s Grenada base. horizonyachtcharters.com

BVI Yacht Charters has welcomed two new catamarans into the Tortola fleet. The Nautitech Open 40s are quick and easy to sail, with self-tacking jibs making life simple for the crew. bviyachtcharters.com

Related

210115-AC36

Prada Cup: Brits Take First Two Races

Who saw that coming? After getting skunked in December, INEOS Team UK has swept the first two races in the Prada Cup elimination series of the 36th America’s Cup  Racing took place on racecourse “C,” sheltered between Auckland’s North Head and Bastion Point to take advantage of ...read more

ac-2048x

Hutchinson: 36th America’s Cup will be a Close On

On the eve of the Prada Cup challenger series, the official start of the 36th America’s Cup, New York Yacht Club American Magic skipper Terry Hutchinson says it’s anyone’s game. "As we've seen in the last week, everyone's gotten faster," said Hutchinson said at the event’s ...read more

Episode1_Thumbnail4_00000_00000_00000_00000

Sailing Docuseries Released Online

Endless Media's Reaching Reality is the story of three friends, a 24-foot sailboat and 1,200 miles. With candor and humor, this series proves that you don't need to be an expert or a millionaire to cast off on the journey of a lifetime. Produced by Emmy-award winner Barry ...read more

01-LEAD-nder-sail-3

Prepping for a Transatlantic

Growing up on the coast of northern England, I dreamed about crossing oceans on my own boat. Like most of us, though, education, a family and a career took precedence, and before I knew it, we had mortgages, young children and endless work obligations. We also became landlocked, ...read more

210111-Vendee

Vendée Update: Josche Forced to Abandon

A week ago, the canting keel on Isabelle Jocshe's IMOCA 60, MACSF, failed. She managed a jury rig with a replacement ram, which held the keel centerline and allowed her to keep sailing, but with a major hit to her speed potential. Jocshe had been in 8th at the time and remained ...read more

rudder

Vendee Update: Emergency Rudder Replacement

A devastated Hare talks about the breakage Pip Hare (Medallia) is back in the game after an emergency rudder repair deep in the Southern Ocean. “Every part of my body aches. I have bloody knuckles on every finger, bruises all down my legs and muscles I didn't know I had that ...read more

Oracle-RBYACFEVD3_2870

PRADA Cup Pairings Announced

The schedule for the PRADA Cup has been revealed as a multitiered extravaganza featuring over a month of racing, stretching from January 15 through February 22. First, the three teams—American Magic, INEOS Team UK and Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli—will face off in a 12-race, six-day ...read more

01-LEAD-Opener-ETNZ1_-106_silo

The 36th America's Cup

A Superbowl is a Superbowl, and a World Series is a World Series. Sure, the names of the players and the teams change from year-to-year, but otherwise, the game pretty much remains the same. Not so the America’s Cup. Still, in many ways a hot mess left over from the days of Queen ...read more