British Virgins - perfect backdrop for Swan gathering

Swan Rendezvous in the British Virgins
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For those owners who like to enjoy their Swan yacht in a cruising environment, ClubSwan organises a series of annual cruising rendezvous in some of the most magical locations in the world. The British Virgin Islands are blessed with aquamarine waters, calm anchorages and deserted coves which have beguiled sailors for centuries and a Swan Rendezvous was held there this month. Kate Holmes reports:

A different atmosphere to that of Swan regattas reigns at the ClubSwan Caribbean Rendezvous in the British Virgin Islands which was held from 12th – 17th March 2012 at the Bitter End Yacht Club.

The Rendezvous is the highlight of the cruising season in one of the world’s best sailing locations. With gorgeous sailing conditions and amazing scenery, the British Virgin Islands offer sailing enthusiasts an idyllic place to soak up the sun.

The ClubSwan Rendezvous programme is designed to offer structured cruising and social occasions organised by Nautor’s Swan with the option of low key racing. The Caribbean element to the Rendezvous suits those intent on enjoying local island hospitality mixed with Swan cruising organisation taking the fleet to a range of island stopovers.

Nearly twenty Swans ranging from Swan 44, South Wind to Swan 62’s, Uxorious and Glisse turned out for a week of fun and light-hearted competition. Run by Nautor’s Swan, participants at the Rendezvous enjoyed activities that ranged from a hard-fought hors d’oeuvres contest, a cocktail contest and a few ‘fun’ regattas with Steve De Voe from Jamestown Boat Yard taking charge of the Race Committee.

Swan Rendezvous - some scenes
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The Rendezvous kicked off with a welcome party in the beautiful surroundings of the Bitter End Yacht Club. The racing action started on the first day with a ‘fun’ laser regatta of which Chris Brand sailing on Swan 53, Merel Four, was winner.

On the second day the fleet set sail on their awe-inspiring passage through the BVI islands where Nautor’s Swan hosted five days of fun off and on the water punctuated with some fabulous shore side parties and events. The sailing grounds in the BVI’s are nothing short of spectacular and the Nautor’s Swan race management and event team took full advantage setting courses through the scenic archipelago of islands. This year the route saw them visit the island of Virgin Gorda, Cooper Island, Jost Van Dyke and Marina Cay.

On day three, the fleet visited Sandy Cay, the idyllic desert island, dotted with palm trees on wide, gently sloping beaches. A day destination, the fleet anchored for lunch, snorkelled in the beautiful coral just off shore and relaxed on the pristine sandy beach.

Swan 66, Godot enjoying the day off Sandy Cay in the British Virgin Islands (c) Nautor's Swan & Yacht Shots BVI
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By day four the Swan fleet were in complete sailing mode. The stresses of life had faded, washed away with the combination of excellent sailing conditions, unparalleled Caribbean beauty, and a variety of pleasures ranging from the laid back to the active.

Just northeast of Tortola, Marina Cay is nestled among three larger islands. Worthy of a painting by one of the greatest artists of history, Marina Cay’s beauty is breath-taking. After an afternoon of snorkelling and diving, dinner was taken ashore at the world famous Pusser’s Landing where a pre-dinner Pusser’s ‘painkiller’ courtesy of Pantaenius was not to be missed while sampling some of the excellent Hors d’Oeuvres that were featured in the contest by sunset.

The Round Virgin Gorda race held on the final day was a highly competitive affair (by comparison). The Swan 62, Uxorious, owned by Colin Buffin claimed line honours and the Dockwise Yacht Transport Trophy while Swan 53, Merel Four, chartered for the week by Jonty and Vicki Layfield won the race on corrected time. At the final dinner and awards ceremony staged by the Gazebo on Almond Walk at the Bitter End Yacht Club, the participants enjoyed a lavish seafood buffet before the prize giving commenced.

The Swan Owners Association including Steve De Voe, Dave Fraiser and President, Hank Schmitt gave out a special prize. The coveted Best Maintained Swan Award was won by Swan 62, Glisse from the USA owned by Twanette Tharp.

Jonty Layfield, Swan Owner, comments on cruising in sailor’s paradise, 'once again we had a great time doing the Rendezvous on the Swan 53. This was our second time and it was nice to meet up with old friends from last year. We will be looking forward to next year’s event.'

Ettore Mattiello of Nautor’s Swan, looks back on what was a fantastic and memorable week had by all, 'the 2012 ClubSwan Caribbean Rendezvous was another successful event for Nautor’s Swan with a complete commitment to enjoyment by both participants and organisers. A full mix of fun racing and socialising with old and new Swan family friends in the warmth of the Caribbean sun and sea made 2012 a great Caribbean Rendezvous year.'