40th Anniversary BVI Spring Regatta: And the winner is - Everyone

The IC24 class is one of the most competitive classes in the entire Caribbean - 40th Anniversary BVI Spring Regatta and Sailing Festival
Todd VanSickle
BVI Spring Regatta and Sailing Festival.

What defines a magnificent regatta? Ask anyone who sailed in the 40th Anniversary BVI Spring Regatta and Sailing Festival (March 28-April 3, 2011), and you’ll hear the same thing: red-hot racing, professionally run courses, a family friendly regatta village, and—of course—killer parties…exactly what sailors on 122 different competing yachts experienced at Nanny Cay—the regatta’s base—this weekend.


But given that this is our 40th birthday bash, we elevated our already high standards to a new level of excellence by offering something that few regattas can match: A strong sense of sailing history, coupled with best ROI imaginable for each participant.

While our 40th included plenty of firsts, including the inaugural Gill BVI International Match Racing Championship (March 30 and 31), one class that isn’t new is the venerable Squib. These keelboats are similar to Rhodes 19s and are used locally in a variety of youth-sailing programs, including Sailability, which helps facilitate sailing for everyone, regardless of a sailor’s mental or physical handicaps. 'These particular Squibs raced in the first BVI Spring Regatta, forty years ago,' said Sue-Ellyn Eldridge, who runs the Squib class’ Race Committee. 'We even had one of the original racers from 40 years ago, Peter Bailey, join us.' Eldridge squeezed off several dozen races using a variety of course shapes, giving crews plenty to smile about, regardless of their performance. 'Just getting to the end of the regatta and being above the waterline, that’s a success right there.'

Dr. Robin Tattersall was on deck to see the Squibs race at the 1971 BVI Spring Regatta. 'The only reason I’m not sailing in this year’s regatta is because I was dismasted in our last race.' Finding a mast section for his 30-square meter Diva proved impossible on deadline, but the good doctor still paid daily house calls to serve as an International Judge. 'The sailors were just as dedicated [back in 1971], but the regatta has changed,' reflected Tattersall. 'It’s much more developed and more professional now.'

D-One regatta 2013
© Elena Giolai/Fraglia Vela Riva

A glance at today’s final standings underscores exactly how competitive this event has become. In the tightly contested Racing A, Willem Wester’s Grand Soleil 43 Antilope, with Volvo Ocean Race legend Bouwe Bekking aboard, suffered only a single second-place finish to soil their otherwise immaculate record. Team Intac, Mark Plaxton’s Melges 32, which benefited from America’s Cup great Peter Holmberg’s local knowledge, took a third-place finish in today’s first race, sullying their 'picket fence' of seven other bullets. In Racing C, James Hudleston’s modified Beneteau Oceanis 440, Three Harkoms, beat out El Ocaso and Smile and Wave in what has been one of the weekend’s more entertaining dogfights.

In Racing D, Kevin Rowlette’s Olson 30, Rushin’ Rowlette earned six bullets and two seconds, edging out Magnificent 7. Competition was fierce in Performance Cruising, where a four-point spread separated Fidelis II from second-placed Northern Child. Bob Beltrano’s Swan 53, Nai’a, dominated the show in Jib and Main A, and in Jib and Main B, Thomas Mullen’s J/95, Shamrock, strutted to victory. And in the IC 24 class, Robert Jenning’s INTAC proved untouchable, beating out Team Maximus.

The bareboat fleets were equally competitive. In Bareboat A, John Wyles’ Fastnet exchanged tactical fisticuffs with Team Eurogiro all weekend; ultimately, a one-point margin put Wyles’ crew in the top spot. In Bareboat B, Tijmen van Elst’s Team bk grondlogistiek applied the right pressure on Team Ontwikkelfonds, and in Bareboat C, Hunter Adkisson’s Durley Dene earned bragging rights. Amongst the multihulls, Richard Wooldridge and Steve Davis’ Team Nanny Cay Triple Jack shut out all comers, including Sir Richard Branson’s Necker Belle, which, at 105 feet, is the biggest multihull to ever pierce a BVI Spring Regatta starting line.

Only two windsurfers turned up, but that didn’t spell easy victory for Owen Waters. Amongst the new Classics class, Stanford Joines’ lovely Windflower edged out Veritas, and in the Squib class, co-skippers Kaven Penn and Akeem David, aboard Charity, beat Hope.

While everyone enjoyed spectacular sailing all weekend, albeit it with a dash of 'liquid sunshine' today, one of the biggest smiles seen at the prize-giving ceremony belonged to Dominik Ondrej, age 4. Dominik’s father, Georg, sailed their family’s Austrian-flagged Beneteau 50, Happy Hour, to the Caribbean earlier this year in order to race. While young Dominik is a veteran cruiser, this was his first regatta, a moment his father recognized with a trophy—which the Ondrej family provided themselves—for the 'youngest Austrian sailor'.

Domink’s smile was infectious as he received his award; according to his proud dad, Domink has already started eyeing Optimists, an investment his father is happy to make. 'Domink did a great job,' beamed Georg, who explained that his son contributed by preparing sheets prior to maneuvers. As for the overall competition and family focused nature of the regatta, Georg summed it up perfectly: 'Everyone is a winner here because it’s such a great event. We really enjoyed the competition—the BVIs are a great place to race.'

Not the umpire boat—an unusual feature of fleet racing here in the IC24 class - 40th Anniversary BVI Spring Regatta and Sailing Festival
Todd VanSickle

The icing on the cake, of course, were the Moka Jumbies before the awards presentation and the decadent fireworks show that capped the night. Ask anyone lucky enough to have been there—it was out of this world.

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