- Written by The BVI Beacon
- Published: 11 January 2017
Four Colgate 26 sailboats sped along the coast of Scrub Island on Dec. 8, battling to see which would cross the finish line first.
“It looks like Boat Seven is going to take it,” said an onlooker from the committee boat.
Sure enough, a blast from the committee boat’s air horn signalled that Boat Seven was the winner of the “regatta’s” final race.
But the crew wouldn’t take home prize money or giant trophies offered in other regattas. They would, however, get bragging rights over their fellow participants in Steve and Doris Colgate’s Offshore Sailing School’s racing course held last month at Scrub Island.
Offshore Sailing has been teaching sailing and cruising in the Virgin Islands for decades, but last month was the company’s first ever racing school here, said company president Doris Colgate.
The racing course is for people who already know the basics of sailing but want to take their skills to the next level, Ms. Colgate said.
“In a racing course, we assume they already know how to manoeuvre a boat,” she said. “But now you’re going to learn the nuances of how to go really fast and what the rules are.”
Some of the students had actually raced before and were sharpening their skills, while others were rank amateurs, Ms. Colgate said, adding that the students were grouped by skill level so instructors could teach them accordingly.
The course entailed five days of drills and practice races, culminating with “regatta day” so the participants could apply what they learned.
While each boat in the regatta had a professional sailing instructor on board, the instructors generally did not contribute and only observed what the crew was doing.
After the race, the participants gathered in the conference room of Scrub Island Resort & Marina for a “debriefing,” where they discussed what went well and what didn’t.
“Our basic strategy for the race was to have speed at the start, not get bottled up with any other boats, and get on port tack,” said one of the instructors. “And actually, we did that very well on the last race.”
Overall, the course was a hit with the participants, and Ms. Colgate said Offshore Sailing plans on holding many more in the VI.
Ms. Colgate said while her company offers two-hour sailing classes for residents, programmes like the racing course primarily attract tourists who often become enamoured with the territory’s beauty.
“From the BVI point of view, we’re bringing in tourists and not relying on getting business here,” she said. “These are successful business people who would buy here if they could.”