Pursuing Caribbean charter trifecta
Published on March 13th, 2023
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 in cool places like racing the 2023 BVI Spring Regatta on March 28-April 2.
Chartering a Moorings 45, Pritchard is joined by 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 40 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-foot 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 24 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 2+ weeks enjoying Spring Regatta and then cruising the 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…
Editor’s note: A Scuttlebutt story from 2013 also has Neil Harvey’s bareboat racing secrets.