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BVI Spring Regatta boats and crews settling in for 50th anniversary

by Michelle Slade / BVISR 28 Mar 00:39 BST March 27 - April 2, 2023
Registration for the 50th BVI Spring Regatta & Sailing Festival opened today at Nanny Cay © Ingrid Abery /

Registration is open and familiar faces along with new have started to appear on the docks at Nanny Cay as boats, their crews, friends, and families start rolling in for the BVI Spring Regatta special edition - the 50th Anniversary. One of the many cool things about the BVI Spring Regatta is its global vibe, drawing people from all over the world to share its stunning islands and turquoise waters.

Guy Chester, from Cairns, Australia is getting through his bucket list of Caribbean races this season on Oceans Tribute, his 46' Crowther designed trimaran which he purchased in New Zealand in 2020 and completely refit there in 2021. He's owned at least four cruising monohulls, but it was during his time in the Caribbean while he was circumnavigating in the first multihull he owned that he decided he wanted to race. He sailed a full season with Spring Regatta regulars Bernie Evan-Wong, owner of the RP37 Taz (competing this week) and Pamela Baldwin on her J/122 Liquid. Chester mostly single-handed Oceans Tribute from New Zealand to get to Antigua earlier this year to get his fill of the best sailboat racing in the world.

"Since January we have done the Round Barbados Sailing Week, the RORC Caribbean 600, the Caribbean Multihull Challenge, the Heineken Regatta, then after BVI Spring Regatta we'll do Le Voile then finish up with Antigua Sailing Week," Chester enthused. He and his crew spent Monday preparing Oceans Tribute for tomorrow's distance race around Tortola."

David Hanks, skipper of Spirit of Juno, a Farr 65 owned by Ondeck Sailing based in Antigua has a full crew on board this week, albeit a bit of a mixed bag, he noted good humouredly.

"We seem to have a lot of Canadians on board, and mostly an all-women crew - we have fourteen in total on board and just three guys. I prefer sailing with women so we should have a good week!" Hanks smiled. "We have a lot of experience on board and are hoping to do well - we have our eyes set on the podium."

Crewing on Spirit of Juno is a group of six Canadian ladies - the Sail Sisters - from the West Vancouver Yacht Club. Kelly Wharton said her group of gals probably has a couple of centuries of sailing experience between them. They each sail their own boats at home and in 2017 decided to mix it up and charter a bareboat in the Caribbean to race the 2017 Heineken Regatta. That was the beginning of a love for Caribbean racing, and they have since competed in Antigua Sailing Week, the Heineken for a second time, and St Barts.

"We decided to up our game this year by doing the BVI Spring Regatta 50th Anniversary on the Spirit of Juno," Wharton said. "We wanted to race on a bigger, technical and competitive boat as in the bareboat division you can't fly spinnakers. We want to be able to learn more about racing which you can always do!"

Another BVI Spring Regatta cool factor is that the trades almost always blow consistently across the multiple BVI racecourses. Racers in eleven classes can look forward to excellent conditions for the start tomorrow of the Round Tortola Race for the Nanny Cay Cup, the first event of the BVI Spring Regatta and Sailing Festival: the trades are expected to blow in the low teens throughout the week, building toward the weekend.

While most of the 58-strong fleet heading out around Tortola on Tuesday will be aiming for a podium position, the crew on Moementum, the Gunboat 60 owned by Fredrik Moe from Montego Bay, Jamaica, have a different game plan. Under the care of Lucky Mike, the happiest boat captain in the Caribbean, the boat is just returning to racing after some time off.

"The world has opened up again and this is our first race since Covid and we will race with friends and crew from Montego Bay - we could be as many as fourteen; it's hard to tell with the Jamaicans until they arrive," Lucky Mike laughed. "We very much cruise the boat rather than race it so for us we pick the regattas we really enjoy - this year we are doing the BVI and Antigua Sailing Week. We leave the ice maker onboard, bring on beer and now we're in race mode! We do not take racing seriously at all, our position is last and nobody better mess with us in our position as we claim that every time! We just love going out and doing it for the fun of it."

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