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Chartering great boats for the 50th edition of BVI Spring Regatta

by BVI Spring Regatta 13 Mar 2023 00:10 GMT March 27 - April 2, 2023
Regatta first-timers look forward to the ease of racing a charter boat at the BVI Spring Regatta © Alastair Abrehart / Broadsword Communications

David Pritchard has been around boats and sailing his whole life. Until recently he used to run Gill North America, retiring in 2019 to spend more time sailing in cool places like the BVI. He's racing the BVI Spring Regatta this year for the first time on a Moorings 45 with a group of friends comprised of five couples who are all members of the Lake Lanier Sailing Club in Georgia (USA). They've been friends for over forty years and enjoy sailing and partying together in the Caribbean. To date, they've participated in Antigua Sailing Week and the St Maarten Heineken Regatta.

"We figured the BVI Spring Regatta is the other noteworthy regatta we should do outside of the Caribbean 600, which we weren't going to do," Pritchard laughed. "We knew charter boats were available through Moorings and Sunsail so that's what we're doing this year." Pritchard's crew sailed their first Caribbean event together in 2016 - Antigua Sailing Week (ASW) - racing in the charter fleet on a 46-footer which they named Bootyfish and winning in class. With several musicians in the crew, they also wrote a tune for the event which quickly became popular among the ASW fleet.

In 2020, Pritchard's group sailed the Heineken Regatta in a 51' charter boat, taking first in a competitive fleet of twelve. They appropriately named their boat and race team Heinefish, and again wrote a tune for the event which got plenty of airtime on the local St Maarten radio station as well as the event podium during prize-giving.

For BVI Spring Regatta, this year's boat and team name is Rumbafish, which Pritchard's crew plan to celebrate appropriately at the Nanny Cay beach bar and during the Mount Gay sponsored party night. With a ton of experience on their team - Pritchard has two Olympic campaigns in the 470 under his belt - they're shooting for another win this year, using the Round Tortola and Race to Scrub Island events to tune up.

"This year we're shooting for a trifecta with a BVI win," Pritchard smiled, "And yes, you guessed it we are working on a jingle!"

When Pritchard began chartering boats to race on, he reached out to Neil Harvey, formerly with Harken, for advice on how to race a charter boat with success. Harvey, a long-time BVISR veteran, sailed his first BVI regatta in 1979, overnighting at Peter Island and chartering a Morgan 46 from The Moorings as his team's mothership. He's raced twenty-four events over the years and just last year won in class.

"Neil has been great," Pritchard said. "I asked him for advice on what to look for in a charter boat and he sent me a long list of things on how to optimize the boat all within the frame of the charter boat rule. He was super helpful sharing info and getting us up to speed."

Pritchard, who plans to be in the BVI for some two+ weeks enjoying Spring Regatta and then cruising the beautiful BVI islands with his wife, is excited that this year they'll have a few adult kids joining the effort who, being much younger, he is hoping will provide value in helping to pull on lines...

After a long, cold, and rather miserable Pacific Northwest winter, Jonathan Cruse is looking forward to warm water, hot racing, palm trees and painkiller cocktails, not necessarily in that order! Cruse is also a first timer to the BVI Spring Regatta, racing with friends from two racing programs based in Seattle, WA, and his group have chartered a Sunsail 46.

The group, who maintain a full-on racing schedule throughout the year at home, normally sail on two boats - Freja (Aerodyne 43) and One Life (J99), both boats which were featured in 48 North Magazine's "Top 25 Racing Boats in the Pacific NW".

Cruse said, "For us, BVI racing will be a combination of having some fun sight-seeing and racing will be like-wise. It's not as serious as we do at home in the Seattle area, but we pick up the boat a few days before the event starts - I'm personally curious about how the area has recovered from Irma, and look forward to enjoying the sights."

Transitioning from racing their own racing boats to a charter boat will be an easy task for the Seattle group, Cruse is sure.

"It's a good way for us to relax and enjoy the regatta. It's a good combination of warm weather, sunshine, and warm water so we're looking forward to sunscreen and having drinks in the cockpit in the evening."

Bart de Wit and a group of friends from the Netherlands will join other first-timers for the 50th edition of the BVI Spring Regatta. Chartering a Sunsail 40, the friends came up with a team name this year - NED-ORANGE - in the spirit of representing the Netherlands.

"We are looking forward to a well-deserved Caribbean break from work, fun competitive sailing and partying till we drop," de Wit smiled. "We're curious about sailing in a different group of islands this year."

The group are friends from sailing together at Dutch national regattas and drinking beer after racing in the clubhouse at Marina Muiderzand and Yacht Club Scheveningen. They raced in the 2020 Heineken Regatta and last year competed in Antigua Sailing Week, finishing second overall in Bareboat 1 Class.

"We decided to join the BVI Spring Regatta for the first time as we expect the 50th edition to be a very memorable event," de Wit commented. "Our average age is 50 years, so we believe we're in compliance with the 50th BVI Spring Regatta!"

Event sponsor The Moorings has been providing great boats to competitors of the BVI Spring Regatta and neighbouring St Thomas International Regatta for several decades and BVI Spring Regatta is grateful for their participation.

For a full list of charter boat entries participating in the 50th edition of the BVI Spring Regatta, visit: bvispringregatta.org/charter_options.

Entries: For a complete list of boats entered to race the 50th Anniversary of the BVI Spring Regatta, visit: yachtscoring.com/current_event_entries.cfm?eID=15454.

Keep up-to-date with all the news, photos and videos via the regatta website: bvispringregatta.org and follow us on social media: #BVISR - Instagram: www.instagram.com/bvisr - Facebook: www.facebook.com/bvispringregatta and Twitter: twitter.com/springregatta.

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