It’s business as usual around the docks at Nanny Cay as hundreds of sailors from around the world prepare for the first major event to be held in the British Virgin Islands since Hurricane Irma devastated the area last September.
The scene today was one of crew scaling masts to take care of any rigging issues, checking sails that haven’t been used in a while, provisioning for food and drinks at the Riteway store in Nanny Cay, and enjoying a cold one at the Beach Bar. Two races kick off at 10am on Tuesday: The Round Tortola Race for the Nanny Cay Cup, and the first edition of the Absolut Full Moon Race, which will take racers around 165 nautical miles around the entire BVI group.
First-timers to the BVI, Jason and Judy Payne-James are racing CSA-Spinnaker in the Absolut Full Moon Race on Heartbeat IV, their Dufour 45E, with a crew of six friends from home in Essex, UK. Keen off-shore racers, the couple brought their boat across the Atlantic in 2012 to race in the Caribbean and the US east coast. They’ve always wanted to race in the BVI and were intrigued by the addition of the new distance race in this year’s event: “We like long distance racing but with 64 islands to go around, it could be overwhelming!” Judy laughed. Jason concurred, “We hope not to hit an island, there are lots of navigational challenges on the course, especially for those of us who don’t know the islands. It’s like a mini RORC Caribbean 600 but we think it’ll be even more demanding.”
Also participating in the Absolut Full Moon race in CSA-Racer Cruiser division is John Cook, from the BVI, on Tatonka, a Beneteau Cyclades 50. Skippering the boat is Neil Harvey, Sales Manager for Harken SE USA and Caribbean and no stranger to the Caribbean, frequently winning on the circuit and having raced at least 15 Spring Regatta and Sailing Festival events. Harvey’s spent the past few weeks at home in Clearwater, FL, studying the charts to familiarize himself with the long course: “I’ve put together all the waypoints for each leg on a laminated sheet for our crew to easily reference – aside from the challenges we’ll have in the lee of Great Tobago and Jost Van Dyke, the trickiest part will be from 2am Wednesday when crews start getting fatigued. We’ve put in a lot of effort for this race, not necessarily on the water as I can nurse the crew around the track, but I’m more concerned about any boat issues so today we’ve been sorting a lot of those out.”
A long-time staple of the BVI Sailing Festival is the Round Tortola Race for the Nanny Cay Cup. 43 boats are registered to race, including Dan McGanty and his crew of 9 who have chartered Lancelot 2, a Beneteau First 40 for the event. McGanty’s team, known as the “Over the Hill Gang” are a bunch of friends from the UK and around the US who frequently get together to race at different venues around the world. McGanty owns a Tartan 101 on which he races some 100 events annually out of Los Angeles, CA, “This is our 8th time sailing in the BVI but first time racing this Regatta – the timing just worked out for us this year. We love to race and hope to get on the water today for some practice,” McGanty said. “In between prep and practice, we also hope to get a drink in!”
A crew of six friends from Russia have chartered the Sunsail 47, Squeaky Brat to race this week. It’s skipper Mikhail Beloborodov’s third time to the BVI, but his first time racing the BVI Spring Regatta & Sailing Festival. Back home in Perm, he races his Dufour 28 on the Kama River which is near the Ural Mountains. His crew call him a “reputable captain” so he’s got that reputation to uphold this week. “We’re looking forward to wind, nice weather, nice people, calm seas and nice racing,” Beloborodov said.
The organizers of the 47th annual BVI Spring Regatta and Sailing Festival are thrilled that the event is so well patronized this year given the devastation to the BVI’s following Irma. “We’re incredibly grateful to all the volunteers and people who have made this week possible. Nothing has changed on the water – we still have exquisite turquoise waters and beautiful white sandy beaches! This week, we’re hoping for good breeze and the usual tropical blue skies to accompany our fleet as they enjoy all the BVI has to offer,” Judy Petz, Race Director, said.
The BVI Spring Regatta & Sailing Festival will take place between March 26-1 April 2018. For more Information go to www.bvispringregatta.org.
To see current entries visit www.yachtscoring.com/event_scratch_sheet.cfm?eID=4419.
by Michelle Slade