Regatta Time in the BVI

Author:
Publish date:
Social count:
0
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

TOTW_PromoSite

SAIL's Tip of the Week

Presented by Vetus-Maxwell.Got a tip? Send it to sailmail@sailmagazine.comImpeller Practice Engine raw-water pump impellers don’t last forever. Even if they are not destroyed by running the engine dry following a blockage, they still deteriorate with the years. If you’ve never ...read more

Waves1(1)

Know how: Weather 101, Basics

OverviewThe first thing to know is that “Weather 101, Basics” is a science course. Its goal is to prepare boaters for a second course launching later this year called “Weather 202, Advanced.” Taken together, these classes are designed to teach boaters to become their own weather ...read more

05-Close-reaching

Light-Air Sailing

Some of the best times aboard a cruising boat are in light airs—those quiet, relaxed sunny days with gentle sailing that just wouldn’t be the same if you were motoring. However, many cruising yachts are not set up to truly fullfill their potential in these kinds of conditions.One ...read more

VOR-BoatYard

Volvo Ocean Race: the Boatyard

The Volvo Ocean Race stopovers are a chance for sailors to rest between grueling legs of the race and for fans to enjoy seeing their favorite boats in person. Behind the scenes of the festivities, however, Nick Bice and his team of expert riggers, boatbuilders, sailmakers and ...read more

20160711_Klampe_Alu_013

Nomen: Folding Cleats

Springtime for CleatsIt’s not every day you see a new take on the humble cleat. There are two problems with these essential items: lines tend to get snagged in them when you least want them to and they attract bare toes with painful accuracy. German company Nomen, maker of the ...read more

WS-POD-600

Watt & Sea: Power Pod Hydrogenerators

Power PodHydrogenerators are an increasingly common addition to bluewater cruising boats, but for all their benefits many sailors don’t like to mount them on the transom, where they may interfere with self-steering gear or drop-down transom platforms. Instead, Watt & Sea’s new ...read more