Endangered Species, a Norseman catamaran, won today's stormy, Nanny Cay Cup race at the BVI Spring Festival
Having spent yesterday enjoying the delights of Bitter End YC resort, basking in the sun drenched island of Virgin Gorda during BVI Spring Festival lay day, competitors awoke this morning to tropical stormy conditions. Continuous torrential downpours accompanied by 25 kt plus winds and big rolling seas were just the ingredients to make this, the second Festival race, one of the most exciting yet.
As all the yachts including the Swan 48 ‘Affinity’ owned and helmed by Jack Desmond, the boat that I’d agreed to sail, made their way to the start line, black clouds lined up on the horizon ready to pounce as the first boats in pursuit race crossed the line. A short beat to a mark just off the club in the North Sound, was followed by one long sleigh ride back to Nanny Cay Marina on Tortola, approximately 15 miles.
For the slower boat who’d set off early it was a matter making the most of the clear air and gaining as much in the early stages as possible before the faster boats started catching up. The catamarans were first off and led the fleet downwind navigating their way through Mosquito Island and Gorda before heading for the tip of Beef Island on the eastern end of Tortola.
Once out of the relative shelter of the island the winds built and topped 28kts at one stage making for a very interesting downwind leg. For us in ‘Affinity’, with only four crew onboard including 14 year old Jason the local hotshot, it was a case of keeping the keel in the water which meant the enormous asymmetric spinnaker stayed neatly tucked away in the fore cabin for the duration of the race. Instead we poled out the jib and actually clocked up some consistently fast speeds of well over 9kts. However, our lack of weight and downwind sail area meant that we were unable to catch our nearest rivals, the other two Swan 48s, ‘Celerity’ owned by Stuart Robinson from the UK, and the American boat ‘Wind Dancer’ which eventually finished in 13th and 15th respectively.
Despite almost perfect conditions and a favourable downwind leg, the 20-strong American team on ‘Equation’, the Andrews 68 sled that won the first day’s race, were unable to catch the front of the fleet and had to settle for 19th place.
Meanwhile the three leading catamarans were still chugging away with Norseman Cat, ‘Endangered Species’ extending her lead slightly over the others. Although the Antrim 27, ‘Rhumb Squall’ owned by Thomas Mullen and Dave Cooper, was hounding the cats in the closing stages, it was Mr Walker’s ‘Endangered Species’ that took line honours and with it the Nanny Cay Cup. ‘Manana’ took second and ‘Covershot’ finished third.
Tomorrow, Friday, will see the start of the three-day BVI Spring Regatta where some serious racing is expected. As well as being the concluding event in the Cape Air Caribbean Ocean Racing Triangle this event is also the penultimate leg in the Caribbean Big Boat Series. Racing will take place from Nanny Cay Marina and will include a mixture of round the buoys and tour racing.