A fleet of 146 boats get set for the BVI Spring Regatta that starts today 30/3/07

BVI Spring Regatta starts today Friday 30 March in the beautiful British Virgin Islands. Celebrating its 36th anniversary, the regatta has expanded from its traditional three days of racing action into a weeklong sailing festival.

Yesterday, Thursday 29 March the fleet battled the elements of light air and rain, as sailors beat their way back to Nanny Cay in the last leg of the BVI Sailing Festival. Although given the prevailing breeze, it was expected that the fleet would coast downhill from Bitter End to Nanny Cay, instead, what little wind there was, shifted from the north east to the south west. Bob Phillips, Chairman of the BVI Sailing Festival remarked: “This year the boats beat up to Bitter End and back. It was only two years ago when we had just he opposite situation, and boats sailed downwind up and then downwind back to Nanny Cay. I guess that makes us even now.”

Although the race committee was able to start the Nanny Cay Cup in five knots of breeze, there were some wicked holes on the course. Only one boat finished within the time limit and that was Tuesday’s Bitter End Cup winner, Dark and Steamy. Everyone else in the Racing class was awarded second place. In the Bareboat and Cruising divisions, no one finished before the time limit expired.

With a total of 146 entries, there are 40 sailing on the Cooper Course, ranging in size from the notable Volvo Ocean racing champ, ABN ARNO, to J 24’s. The Norman Course has six classes with a total of 70 boats. The One Design Course has 34 total between the Laser, IC 24 and Beachcat classes.

Yesterday ABN AMRO ONE, winner of the 2005-6 Volvo Ocean Race could be seen out training in Sir Francis Drake Channel in preparation for the 2007 BVI Spring Regatta. Skipper Brad Jackson commented: “We’re really looking forward to competing in the BVI Spring Regatta this weekend. It’s a fantastic sailing venue and hopefully, with the right weather conditions, we can show everyone here what this boat can do. The fastest speed ABN AMRO ONE recorded during the Volvo Ocean Race was 42.6 knots, sailing across the Atlantic just near the end of the race. I’m not sure we’ll reach that here in the Caribbean but if we get some good breeze, the racing should be great.”

One of the biggest areas of growth for the regatta is the Laser class. This year, there is a Trinidadian contingent of five young men, ages 14 – 17, who have travelled with their coach for the regatta. They were so wet when they arrived to Nanny Cay in the pouring rain yesterday that it was joked that they swam here. When it was clearly too wet that evening for their tents to be pitched, Nanny Cay, the event host, provided rooms for the night.

Today Friday 30 March, the fleet of 146 boats will be on three different courses in the Sir Frances Drake Channel. The Norman course will provide Bareboat A and B, Jib and Main, Performance Cruising A and B, and large Mulihull classes round the islands/ tour racing. On the Cooper course, the race officer will have the choice to send the five Racing classes round the buoys or around the islands. The one design course will be the closest to shore and will host the IC24s, Lasers, and Beachcats sailing as many as eight races a day.