The three-day warm up regatta for the BVI Spring Regatta starts today 28/3/06

The BVI Sailing Festival – the three-day, low-pressure warm up for the BVI Spring Regatta to take place this weekend (March 30 – April 2) – has officially kicked off with registration. Throughout the day yesterday, boats filtered into the Nanny Cay Marina and began preparations for the event. Forty boats have officially entered the event and have been divided into Racing, Cruising, Bareboat A and Bareboat B classes.

In the racing class, Bill Alcott’s Equation, an Andrews 68, will be scratch boat but the competition in that class may be between a fleet of Swans including DSK Comifin, a Swan 45, Devocean, a second Swan 45, and Crescendo, Martin Jacobson’s Swan 44. Jacobson may be sporting his new Rolex watch that he just won last weekend in the St Thomas Rolex regatta. Last year, Crescendo placed second in the Sailing Festival and Equation was third.

The Cruising class is the largest fleet with 14 boats ranging in size from a Swan 70, Stay Calm, to a Colgate 26, Air Bisquit. The 2005 first and second place boats, Shamrock, a J/120, and Northern Child, a Swan 51, are both competing this year.

Bareboat A and B host a number of stars, including Shirley Robertson, an Olympic gold medalist who was named the International Sailing Federation’s World Sailor of the Year in 2000, and last year’s winner, Dunbar, a skipper for The Moorings in Tortola.

Today’s race course will lead the competitors from the Nanny Cay Marina, the presenting sponsor and host marina for the 35th annual BVI Spring Regatta, and take them to a mark off The Baths – one of the British Virgin Islands’ most picturesque natural wonders – and then on to the North Sound leaving a group of islands known as the Dogs, Cockroach Rock, Mosquito Island and Mosquito Rock to starboard and entering North Sound via a channel through Colquhoun Reef. The finish line will be off the Bitter End Yacht Club and the Bitter End Cup will be presented that evening.

Wednesday (March 29) is Lay Day Bitter End-style so people can do just as much – or as little – as they want. That day, the third annual Nations’ Challenge Cup in which teams take part on a ‘first come first served basis’ to represent their country will take place. The event will be sailed in the Bitter End Yacht Club’s fleet of Hunter 216s. With two flights, the “B” teams will race in the morning, and the “A” teams will race in the afternoon. Four races will be sailed in each flight with the boats swapped after each race. Team USA (Los Angeles), comprised of Pyewacket crew headed by Ben Mitchell, won the inaugural event and last year it was Team Ireland.

Thursday, the boats will be racing for the Nanny Cay Cup, returning to Nanny Cay in time for registration for the main event, the 2006 BVI Spring Regatta.