There was plenty of wind and plenty of action at the BVI Spring Regatta - read the highlights 2/4/07

Day One – Friday 30 March

There was plenty of thrills and spills on the first day of racing for the BVI Spring Regatta that started last Friday 30 March.

Boats struggled to keep from broaching in gusts up to 26 knots. Others revelled in the brisk breeze and turned wind into pure power. Sailing in over 15 knots of breeze from the northeast, rather than the prevailing southeast, under cloudy skies and intermittent rain, boats on the Norman course sailed one race in the morning and one in the afternoon, the Cooper Race area completed three races and the one-design racers completed five.

Trinidad’s Peter Peak knows he has a fast boat and hot crew. But, he didn’t know what to make of the competition in his Spinnaker Racing A class. “How do you evaluate a Volvo Ocean winner against a Reichel Pugh 44,” said Peak, referring to class competitor, ABN AMRO ONE (1-1-1, 3), compared to his own Storm (6-5-OCS, 19). Peak adds: “And, we know Titan XII (2-2-2, 6) is a force to be reckoned with.” Include to this mix the challenge of an OCS. “We went so deep that I really thought we had cleared the start line, but we hadn’t. That was disappointing.”

One of the most exciting events on the race course happened at the end of race two on the Norman course and not only did the committee boat witness the event, their boat, Bitter End Yacht Club’s Corinthian, ended up with two holes in the side that had to be taped to keep the boat from taking on water. As told by committee member Robin Rinda, ClimaSelect Air Conditioning, racing in Bareboat Division A, tacked too soon after crossing the finish line blocking the path of two other competitors. ClimaSelect Air Conditioning was hit and then ran, not once but twice, into Corinthian, causing the damage. Regardless of the excitement, the committee managed to get accurate finish times for all the boats that followed.

Day Two – Saturday 31 March

The sun shone most of the day, with no rain and winds from 20 – 30 miles an hour with rough seas. Conditions put sailors and boats to a true test and there was some carnage on the race course but crews returned to the Nanny Cay, the event host, tired, salty and with some great sea stories to tell. When asked how was it out there, Mike Masters, sailing Black Pearl in the IC24 class summed it up, “Gruelling and great.”

In Spinnaker Racing A, ABN AMRO ONE (1-1-1-1-1-1) maintained its lead, to no one’s surprise. This 2005-06 Volvo Ocean champ kept a minute or more lead on corrected time over second place, Titan XII (2-2-2-2-2-2), skippered by Puerto Rico’s Tom Hill. Noonmark VI (5-3-5-3-3-3), a Swan 56 sailed by Geoffrey Mulchay, moved into third.

Devil 3 (1-1-3-3-1-2), the Stanton brother’s Melges 24, continued in its wickedly wonderful first place slot, to the dismay of a pair of Melges 32s that enjoyed match racing each other as well as trying to take a swipe at the lead. Trinidad’s Tim Kimpton, driving one of these 32s, Crash Test Dummies (3-5-1-1-2-1), was more psyched on the speed his boat enjoyed for the day than not moving into first. “The last race, the inter-island race, we sailed past everyone, but ABN AMRO ONE and Titan XII. Then, after we rounded the corner and came up by Peter Island, the water was flat and in the breeze we hit 18 knots downwind. It was such a buzz to sail in this kind of wind. That’s why I’ve got such a big grin.”

The committee boat on the Norman course was hit once again. This time, Avocation was forced into it by Shamrock at the start of Performance Cruising A. Robin Rinda, committee member, joked: “It may be time to just paint a bull eye on us.” Affinity (1,2,1,1,) is now in front, followed by Black Hole (4,3,2,2) and Advantage (2,1,3,6), lost its advantage and second place with a sixth place in the last race of the day.

Day three – Sunday 1 April

Picture perfect weather was the order for the last day of the 2007 BVI Spring Regatta. Sailors were able to enjoy a consistent 20 knots of breeze, sunshine and relatively flat water in races that, in many classes, determined who was to stand on the winners’ podium at this afternoon’s prize giving.

ABN AMRO One (1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1, 8), the Volvo Ocean 70 that won the 2005-2006 Volvo Ocean Race, sailed to a string of flawless first place finishes to win the Spinnaker Racing A class. Skipper, Brad Jackson, who served as one of two watch captains in the Volvo race, said: “Anytime there’s a race, we always want to sail as well as we can. It was a lot of hard work, though. The boat has a lot of load and we had to be careful in the kind of heavy breeze we had this weekend. If it had been light, under 10 knots, we would have had to really worry about Titan XII. Puerto Rico’s Tom Hill’s Titan XII (2-2-2-2-2-2-2-2, 16), a Reichel Pugh 75, finished second in class, while Noonmark VI (5-3-5-3-3-3-3-3, 31) a Swan 56 sailed by Geoffrey Mulchy ended third.

Devil 3 (1-1-3-3-1-2-1-1, 13), Chris Stanton’s Melges 24 from St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands, retained its lead in Spinnaker Racing B. Tactician and trimmer, Peter Stanton, said, “We made less mistakes manoeuvre- wise. We also have been sailing with the same crew, except for one person, so that’s helped us to improve.”

In Racer-Cruiser, the BVI’s Peter Haycraft held on to his lead aboard his Sirena 38, Pipedream (4-2-3-1-2-2-2-2, 18), to place first in class. Haycraft also earns the distinction of being one of the few sailors to race every BVI Spring Regatta since the event’s inception, and finishing first if not in the top three in class many of these years. Puerto Rico’s Julio Reguero, skippering his J/105, Umakua (2-1-1-3-3-8-4-1, 23), came in second. Reguero said, “We were very pleased. Especially coming back from a DNS the day before.” Puerto Rico’s Carlos Camacho, aboard his J/105, Abracadabra (5-4-2-2-4-1-3-3, 24), ended third.

It is good to report that today that no boats hit Bitter End’s Corinthian, the committee boat on the Norman Course. Regardless, there was a distress call from the committee boat to the number one mark boat. The message was relayed that the mark boat needed to hurry over as Corinthian was taking on water very quickly and the committee members needed to be taken off the boat. The mark boat responded immediately, all committee members were on the port side and appeared to be ready to abandon ship, but as the mark boat approached, they all called out, “April Fools.”

Congratulations to Joe San Martin and his crew on Piglet (2,2,2,2,1,9) in the Multihull class. He finally beat Triple Jack (1,1,1,1,2,6) in the last race of the series. Triple Jack still takes the first place prize home but at least the crew on Piglet knows the Triple Jack gang can be beat.

High winds led to the beach cat fleet staying on the beach for the last day’s competition. This led Tom Ainger’s St. Croix-based Caribbean Auto Mart, an Inter 20, to retain its lead, St. Thomas’ Tom Kozyn’s Hobie 16, Team XO, to end second and fellow islander, Davis Murray’s TBD (4-2-4-4-3-4, 21), a Prindle 19, to round out third.