One of the Caribbean’s greatest regattas is back again in the British Virgin Islands for 2020.
Next month, some 800 sailors and crew from around the world will descend on Tortola for the BVI Spring Regatta and Sailing Festival.
This year, the festival will be held from March 30 – April 5.
“The BVI is the mecca for sailing for three very important reasons,” said Bob Phillips, chairman of the regatta. “With its 64 islands and rocks, you never run out of interesting and challenging places to sail. We have protected water in the Sir Francis Drake Channel where most of the racing is done, so even when trade winds are blowing their normal 15, 18, and 20 knots, you still have comfortable conditions for most sailors with the opportunity for ocean-like conditions if desired.”
With all the choices that the BVI has with natural lay marks and islands, the Race Committee has multiple course possibilities to tap into, to mix up the racing each race day.
Race officers initiate the design of courses on the water to match the tactical conditions, especially in shifting weather so that racing is always challenging.
“Not only is the racing superb, but for those who want to combine a race holiday with cruising before or after, our islands are unbelievably lush with anchorages every 20 minutes – it’s just a comfortable, beautiful place to sail,” Phillips said.
About 60 percent of the BVI Spring Regatta fleet comprises sailors who return year after year, excited for the racing conditions and the opportunity to meet new people as well as reunite with sailing friends.
Jeremy Jablonksi, owner/skipper of the Hanse Avanti, has participated in Spring Regatta annually for many years.
He won his class last year by just one point over longtime racing friends on the GS52 Cachondo, owned/skippered by Jose Teixidor.
“Racing against Cachondo last year was an amazing play of minds and sail trim, which was fantastic – the Regatta is always challenging and fun for us,” Jablonski said.
Most of Pamala Baldwin’s young career racing crew have returned to sail with her this season on her boat Liquid, a J122.
Baldwin is a long-time regular on the Caribbean race circuit and prides herself on providing a steppingstone for young sailors to professional racing.
“Team Liquid are looking forward to the challenging conditions that BVI Spring Regatta delivers every year,” said Liquid’s skipper, Jules White. “It always attracts a competitive fleet for us and the variety of courses throughout the week gives every boat a chance to play their hand. It’s always a favorite for us and a pleasure to race in such beautiful waters.”
Local BVI sailors will be engaging in their own “backyard” racing as well.
Mark Sanders from Tortola will be racing his Corsair 31 Island Hops in which he handily won the Sport Multihull class last year with an 8-point lead.
“I have always enjoyed the BVI Spring Regatta from both a social perspective but more so the actual racing element itself,” Sanders said. “The competition is fierce, with many talented racers from all over participating. Last year’s Round the Island race gave us record breaking conditions of SE 18-24kts, it was a day to remember.”
“We took Island Hops in over 20 knots for the first time, under jib and main alone, then rounded the eastern point of Scrub, launched our rather large Code, and took off like a robber’s dog,” he said. “Island Hops was one of only five boats out of 55 to complete the rounding, which we did in under 3 hours – about the same as the Volvo 70, but on a slightly smaller budget!”
Racing in the competitive sports multihull fleet and knowing local conditions intimately, Joe San Martin, from St. Croix says the BVI Spring Regatta offers “the perfect racing environment.”
He has raced the event 17 times on Piglet, his 23′ Newick trimaran, the first of the small trimarans to enter the Regatta almost 20 years ago.
Since then, local BVI sailors have embraced sports trimarans with some 8 boats expected to compete this year.
“We absolutely love the venue and everything in Nanny Cay,” San Martin said. “The Nanny Cay staff are committed and involved in the event – there is no better in the Caribbean.”
For more, visit the BVI Spring Regatta.