Let The Games Begin!—Sailing News from the U.S. and Beyond
Close your eyes and imagine perfect sailing. Odds are spot-on that your mind's eye will drift closer to the equator than where most of us reside. Perhaps you're thinking Hawaii or the South Pacific, but if racing is your game, savvy sailors are thinking of the Caribbean, with its rich sailing heritage, copious regattas and ideal sailing conditions.
Take, for example, the 40th Anniversary BVI Spring Regatta and Sailing Festival, which kicked on the Sir Francis Drake Channel, just off of Tortola's Nanny Cay Resort and Marina. Lucky sailors on some 50 boats enjoyed the Bitter End Cup Race, a 21-mile windward sprint to Virgin Gorda's world-famous Bitter End Yacht Club (BEYC), which serves as a warm-up to the rest of the week's festivities.
Sail-World USA Editor David Schmidt with broadbrimmed hat and P flag Todd VanSickle
From my perch aboard the RC boat (manning flags, not winch handles, sadly), all four classes got off cleanly, sans the usual red flags and ugly words that plague too many starting line Sambas at North American regattas. Two catamarans comprised the first class, the sexiest being Necker Belle, a 105-foot carbon fiber cruising cat that's owned and operated by Virgin Limited Edition (e.g. Sir Richard Branson's company). The bareboats and cruisers negotiated the line in a (mostly) friendly manor, but the intensity levels punched up a few notches when the raceboats began circling.
For sailors participating in today's 'friendly' race, the idea was to have fun, tune up against the fleet, and to get their crews psyched for the far more competitive BVI Spring Regatta, which begins on Friday, April 1 and runs through Sunday, April 3. In the meantime, crews will be relaxing and playing—both at the BEYC's bar and on their dinghy fleet—during tomorrow lay day at the BEYC before easing their sheets and popping their kites for Thursday's Nanny Cay Cup, which sails a reciprocal course back to Tortola and the Mount Gay Welcome Party. Talk about hard living!
Meanwhile, back here on Tortola, its the start of the inaugural Gill BVI International Match Race Championships, a Grade-3 match-racing event that will be contested in IC 24s (modified J/24s with a Melges 24-like cockpit and other refinements). The winner gets an automatic invitation to the Chicago Match Racing Center's Grade 2 event this August, so expect the competition to be hot.
40th Anniversary BVI Spring Regatta and Sailing Festival Todd VanSickle
Check out Todd VanSickle's great image gallery of today's Bitter End Cup Race start in this issue, and stand by for more info, updates and vignettes from this event, as the action unfolds. And be sure to monitor the website for plenty of great sailing coverage from other corners of the globe http://www.sail-world.com
May the four winds blow you safely home.
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