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Island Hopping at BVI Sailing Festival

Published on March 30th, 2016

Tortola, BVI (March 30, 2016) – With one day of racing behind them, competitors in the 45th BVI Spring Regatta & Sailing Festival rolled right into today’s race, the Scrub Island Invitational, a 12nm upwind ride for the CSA Cruising, Bareboat and Multihull fleets, and a 17nm course for the CSA Racing fleet. Conditions were again breezier than expected with 22 knots from the east and bumpy seas for the 10am start.

Located off the north east end of Tortola, Scrub Island is a new race destination for this year’s BVI Spring Festival fleet. A private resort island with classic Caribbean white sand beaches and docks at the ready was a welcome sight for race-goers who, on arrival, didn’t waste any time stripping down to bathing suits and finding their way to the poolside bar.

Norwood Smith, VP Marketing, Scrub Island said: “This is our first-ever sailing regatta and it’s amazing to be part of the 45th legacy of this event; to be able to host all the boats here and to have Scrub Island as their destination is exciting. While we’re a private island resort, we’re thrilled to be hosting people from all over the world here today.”

SPOOKIE, the TP52 owned by Steve and Heidi Benjamin (USA), took first in CSA Racing class, followed by Quokka – Performance Yacht Racing, the Grand Soleil 43 skippered by Christian Reynolds (GBR), and in third place, Northern Child, the Swan 51 skippered by Eric Bos (GBR).


Spookie, Steve & Heidi Benjamin’s TP52 won CSA Racing © Todd VanSickle

Feeling very satisfied with a second place, Reynolds said, “We had a really good sail today. I’ve got people with varied experience onboard but everyone’s smart and enthusiastic. We won the start among some very serious racers and had a few challenging maneuvers out there, for some of the guys. They’re learning a whole new level of racing so it was great to take second.”

Renato Faria (BRA) helmed his Dufour 500 Ventaneiro 3 to another first place today, in the CSA Cruising class, all the while claiming his boat really isn’t that fast, it’s his fabulous crew.

“It’s not so fast, it’s a cruising boat!” Faria laughed. “We had a nice sail today and were happy to win. We just tried to do our best. We got a good start and followed the coast closely all the time, it was easy racing. We’ve got really nice team work and one of our crew was trying to qualify for the Olympics in the 49’er, so we’re lucky to have him on board.”

Windward Spirit, the Jeanneau 54DS skippered by Serge Bisson (CAN) took second in the CSA Cruising class and Sam of Hamble, a Sigma 38 helmed by Peter Hopps (GBR), took third.

First place in the multihull division was Slow Motion, skippered by Werner Puche (GER), while the Outremer 51 Ten Directions, skippered by Glenn Davis (USA), took second. Puche and his family; wife Erena and sons Leon (11) and Robert (9) who are just learning to sail, are having a blast in the BVI.

“We made a few mistakes yesterday – we were seven minutes late for the start,” Puche laughed. “But today we hit it on the dot, which makes a big difference to one’s mood! The boat is easy to handle and I’m glad the wind was just at the limit where we didn’t have to reef so we were able to stay with full sails all the way. We had a good time, with no mistakes. The boys have been helping with the timing at the starts, and they’re my look-out guys.”

Taking another win today in CSA Bareboat was Warvor, helmed by Willem Ellemeet (NED). This group of seven friends celebrated their win with a bottle of champagne on the dock on arrival at Scrub Island Resort.

“We had a reasonable start but tacked away early so we could sail our own race and that was a good decision. We stayed as deep as possible to the shore and that also worked. Our boat is definitely sluggish but everyone’s got the same challenge. We’re really enjoying the sailing here and the more intimate feel of the Regatta compared to others.”


Crews had a fun afternoon at the Scrub Island Invitational Race in the BVI Sailing Festival © Todd VanSickle

Mary Jewell, the Sunsail 50 skippered by Larry Caillouet (USA) took second in CSA Bareboat, while ACTIFORCE-Ivoire (NED), a Moorings 51, skippered by Willem Klomp, took third place in class.

Looking out to the start of the three-day BVI Spring Regatta on Friday, Warwick Dunnett (USA), skipper of the Beneteau Oceanis 50 JogFund, racing in the CSA Bareboat class is grateful for the practice racing over the past two days.

“I was glad to have this time to get the boat dialed in,” Dunnett commented. “While we had a great start today and were first over the line, we were experimenting with jib set and figuring out the new SailRacer app which can be distracting. A navigational error also didn’t help us but we have the boat rigged well now so are looking forward to improved racing later in the week.”

Thursday is an official lay-day but there will be plenty happening at Nanny Cay, host for the Spring Regatta and Sailing Festival, with the Maritime Heritage Day featuring VP Banks 3rd Annual Tortola Sloop Spring Challenge. Traditional Virgin Islands sloops will compete for prizes and honours starting at 11am and the presentation of the Sloop Awards follows racing. The BVI Spring Regatta Skipper’s Meeting is at 5:30pm and the Mount Gay Welcome Party kicks off 5-7pm, with live music from the MJ Blues Band until midnight.

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