Racers from the Carib LPG compete in the racing class of the Round Tortola Race during the 2019 BVI Spring Re- gatta and Sailing Festi- val. Below, charter boats play a big role in the BVI Spring Regatta. (File photo: ZARRIN TASNIM AHMED)

The annual BVI Spring Regatta and Sailing Festival has been pushed back for a second year due to complications arising from the Covid-19 pandemic, organisers announced Friday.

“As much as we would have loved to welcome everyone back to the [Virgin Islands], the most important factors are health and safety for all,” said Judy Petz, director of the regatta. “It was a tough decision but the right one.”

The regatta was slated for March 29 to April 4, but is now scheduled for March 28 to April 3, 2022.

“The postponement of the event is a financial blow to the non-profit entity which organised this internationally respected sailing event, as well as to the [VI] community, which typically enjoys a positive economic impact from the BVI Spring Regatta and Sailing Festival of approximately $4 million each year,” regatta organisers stated in a press release. “This loss to the local economy these past two years due to the pandemic has been devastating, particularly to the yachting sector.”

Ms. Petz said the regatta “circulates an enormous amount of currency throughout the whole economy,” explaining that some participants come to the territory weeks or months in advance.

The support shown by regular participants has “kept her spirits up,” she added.

Government announced a delay in the reopening of the sea borders to tourism last Thursday, which affected the regatta board members’ decision to postpone.

“The border closing sort of sealed the deal,” Ms. Petz said. “We’re known as one of the largest international sailing regattas. [With the sea borders closed], other boats couldn’t come.”

Ms. Petz said that hosting the regatta would have been “really helpful” to a marine industry that is “extremely challenged right now.”

“They’re going by the protocols, and it works for the people who have the time to follow through,” she said. “[Almost all the] marinas have boats sitting and they’re not making any money.”

In spite of the postponement, Ms. Petz said the Royal BVI Yacht Club hopes to hold a “local, safe regatta” around Easter time.

Other regattas

Other races have also seen challenges. The West End Yacht Club cancelled its Sweethearts Regatta and postponed the Dark N’ Stormy Regatta last weekend due to turbulent weather.

Commodore Peter Clatworthy wrote a note on the Facebook event page for the Dark N’ Stormy informing participants of the decision.

“It looks like a [northeast] wind at 25 knots on the nose and six to eight foot swells in the anchorage at Anegada,” he wrote. “Many boats have elected to withdraw … and it has been reluctantly decided to postpone the event.”

No official date has been given for the regatta yet.

Speedboat event

Meanwhile on Sunday, as the clouds cleared, many residents participated in the Black Jack Run, a part of the BVI Springfest hosted by Five Star Promotions.

“It actually went well considering the weather and the water conditions,” said Steve Parillon, owner of Five Star Promotions. “We had a great turnout. At the starting registration point, we started off slow. After the run, most of the boats went on to Willy T.”

Six-way tie

Beginning at a dock in Village Cay, about 17 speedboats took off for Norman Island. From there, they headed to East End, and finally to Jost Van Dyke.

Mr. Parillon said six winners tied with a hand of 21 and split the $15,000 jackpot.

He also hosted a show of VI artists at Aqua on Saturday night as part of the Springfest. He hopes to host another event on the water around Easter time.