Racing got underway for the BVI Sailing Festival with the Round Tortola Race for the Nanny Cay Cup. White horses dotted the Sir Francis Drake Channel as the warm trade winds provided sparkling conditions for the 35 yachts taking part. At the start just off Nanny Cay, the yachts powered to windward, playing the lifts from the southern shore before cracking sheets at Beef Island. Setting downwind sails for the long reach along the stunning northern shore the fleet got a taste of the Atlantic; surfing on ocean waves.
“A great course with a bit of everything,” commented America’s Cup helmsman, Andy Green, calling tactics on Gosia Rojek’s Swan 42, Better Than. “We had 15-17 knots at the start which faded a little on the north side of the island, but it was quite puffy, so there was plenty to work with. Near the finish, the narrow gap at West End provides an interesting twist before the beat to finish.”
The 11 yachts in CSA Racing had a highly competitive start, with three high performance yachts fighting for the Committee Boat end. Tortolan Sam Talbot, skipper of J/111, Spike was windward boat and just keeping clear to leeward was Steve & Heidi Benjamin’s American Carkeek 40, Spookie. Stefan Jentzsch’s German Carkeek 47, Black Pearl was squeezing Spookie up towards the line, fighting for clear air, but had space below to bare away and speed into the lead on the favoured island shore. Black Pearl raced around the course taking Line Honours for the CSA Racing Division but was just outside record pace and after time correction placed third in class. Rupert & Jan Thouron’s J/122, Dunder was second, much to the delight of the team from Vermont, USA. However, the winner of the CSA Racing class by just under 3 minutes after time correction was Spookie.
America’s Cup winner, Peter Holmberg was racing on home waters, calling tactics on Spookie. “It was a fantastic course and very challenging; going uphill at the start with the current and the whole backside of the island has a lot of shadows. How close you get to the land on the backside without running out of wind is a big factor. I have raced around Tortola since I was a kid so I know the course pretty well. It looks like we will have a good battle with Black Pearl in this regatta. They have some really good guys on board.”
Richard Palm and his crew from Rockland YC, Maine look like they are relishing the warm weather with a hot start in the Multihull Class, judging the line to perfection on Outremer 51, Archer. However one of Tortola’s most famous yachts soon took up the running. Richard Wooldridge and Steve Davis’ Triple Jack set the Round Tortola Record in 2012 (2 hours, 40 minutes and 18 seconds). However, this year the conditions were not ideal for the Kelsall One-Off and despite taking Line Honours for the race, Triple Jack was outside record pace.
The second start featured 15 yachts in the Bareboat Class, Team Merlin, skippered by Charles Garrard and crewed by the Boston Yacht Club were whooping with delight with a cracking start at the Committee Boat end of the line. Maitland Chambers skippered by Chris Parker from London, Great Britain also got away to a flying start. However, Team Merlin, Class Winner in the 2013 BVI Spring Regatta, won the Round Tortola Race by 10 minutes after time correction, from Iskander Rakhimov’s Russian team, RRC One. Dennis Gregory’s Sail Montana was third.
In CSA Performance Cruising, Ross Applebey’s Scarlet Oyster showed just why the British Oyster 48 has been unbeaten this season in the Caribbean. With seconds to go before the gun, Scarlet Oyster looked to be too early, but dialled-down and accelerated just as the Committee Boat sounded the start. However it was Giles Redpath’s Grand Soleil 56, Shine that won the race in CSA Performance Cruising with Scarlet Oyster second and Christian Reynolds’ Swan 51, Northern Child in third.
“Well I guess we can only go downhill from here,” laughed Giles Redpath. “We are three families from Hampshire, Great Britain and all of our children have been to the same school. To be honest, the crew have very little experience. Some of the nautical terms like ‘sweat the lazy guy’ raised a few eyebrows amongst the crew, but we have some very determined teenagers on board, mixed with a few of us that have had a little more time on the water. We didn’t sail a perfect race but what a great way to start the regatta.”
CSA Jib & Main was won by Steve Schmidt’s Santa Cruz 70, Hotel California Too but only just. David Lane’s Hunter 30, Wicked Winch, with his team from the Loyal West End Yacht Club was less than a minute behind after time correction.
“It is pretty cool that people from 14 different nations are racing in the BVI Spring Regatta & Sailing Festival. It is a very multicultural event with teams from Russia, the Baltic, from all over the Caribbean, Europe and North America and I really like that,” commented Cameron McColl, Chairman of Nanny Cay. “These people learn sailing in different places in different ways and they don’t often get a chance to compete with each other and none of them really know what the opposition will be like. Nanny Cay is a great place for them all to meet up. Even for the non-sailors, they can watch the racing from the beach and join up with the sailors after racing. Having everything in one spot is all part of the original vision for Nanny Cay.
Racing at the BVI Sailing Festival continues on Wednesday 1st April with the Veuve Clicquot Island Invitational, a pursuit style race to the beautiful island of Jost Van Dyke.
Full results for the Round Tortola Race for the Nanny Cay Cup can be found at: http://www.bvispringregatta.org/registration/results/
For more information visit: www.bvispringregatta.org
Image © BVI Spring Regatta & Sailing Festival/Todd vanSickle