BVI Spring Regatta - Facing the starters gun

La Forza Del Destino - BVI Spring Regatta and Sailing Festival
Despite the calendar date, there were precious few pranks occurring today at the 40th Anniversary BVI Spring Regatta and Sailing Festival (March 28-April 3, 2011), where 122 boats assembled on four different racecourses, eagerly anticipating their starting guns.

Fifteen to twenty knots and small seas greeted sailors racing in the protected waters, and classic Caribbean ocean rollers fueled surfing sessions outside of the lee of the islands. The race committees made sure to entertain, sending boats on a variety of courses, ranging from windward-leewards to scenic excursions around the numerous islands that pepper the Sir Francis Drake Channel near Nanny Cay Resort and Marina, the regatta’s base.

Back ashore, however, a few sly moves were attempted. 'It was mostly in the racing class!' laughed Renata Goodridge, the Regatta Measurer. Caribbean Sailing Association (CSA) rules—the regatta’s governing rules—stipulate that owners can only change their rating three times per year, but this didn’t deter some shenanigans. 'Guys always try to one-up each other. They’ll say, ‘that first spinnaker, we used it for one whole regatta—it’s really blown out, let’s measure a new one and see if it will make us go faster.’ But, for the most part, everybody plays by the rules.' Given that Goodridge is also an official CSA measurer, you can bet your last bottle of rum that nothing slipped under her radar.

Rating-rule stunts aside, today’s racing defined the word spectacular. 'It was regatta sailing as it should be,' said Bruno Bruchhof, the owner of Geronimo, a venerable Doug Peterson-designed two-ton ocean racer. The Classics class is a new addition to this year’s regatta format and is part of our special 40th anniversary celebrations. 'We had unbelievable competition from Veritas. We were nose-to-tail at the finish!'

The action was equally hot in the Jib and Main A Class. 'We nailed both starts,' said Bob Beltrano, owner and skipper of the Swan 53 Nai’a, which earned a bullet and a second-place finish, respectively, in the class’ two races. 'I can’t say enough about the event’s PRO,' said Beltrano. 'He gets endless questions, but he takes the time to answer them all. He was explaining the racing rules on the radio to people who didn’t understand.' Given their day’s red-hot performance, it was no surprise to see Nai’a’s cockpit full of big smiles and happy sailors back at Nanny Cay.

'We’re not a light-air boat, and we didn’t have light air today,' said Joseph Goulet, bowman on the J/120 El Ocaso, which sailed three races on the SOL course. 'It was a dream.' Currently, a one-point Delta separates El Ocaso from James Hudleston’s modified Beneteau Oceanis 440, Three Harkoms. As for any onboard tomfoolery, the competition was too tight, said Goulet, for any sophomoric distractions. 'Any time we’re sailing against the Three Harkoms, we have to lock it down. There might have been a little joking at the dock, but that was it.'

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