Sailors race windward/leeward courses on Saturday during the 49th BVI Spring Regatta and Sailing Festival. (Photo: ZARRIN TASNIM AHMED)

The 49th BVI Spring Regatta started out with high wind and choppy seas on Friday and Saturday before the weather cleared up on Sunday with perfect sailing conditions.

Despite major setbacks for some boats, sailors were happy to return to the territory for the festival.

“[The BVI Spring Regatta and Sailing Festival] was an overwhelming success,” Regatta Director Judy Petz said. “Great winds, lots of racing, and the best part was many very happy visiting sailors.”

Though 68 boats registered, some dropped out during the week, bringing a total of 58 registered boats to the festival and regatta.

Friday’s Mount Gay Race, which marked the beginning of the Spring Regatta following the three-day Sailing Festival, held challenging conditions for sailors.

“It was quite choppy with significant shifts around the islands, which we got right on the first race,” sailor Tony Mack said in a regatta press release. “On the second race we were okay on the upwind leg, but we weren’t as quick as we should have been downwind.”

Another sailor, Peter Corr, noted that the big breezes were difficult to handle during Blitz’s second race.

“We had high winds — I like the bigger breeze; we can work it and keep the boat pointed up. But on the second race, we were over early and had to do a penalty turn, as did Sunrise and Taz,” Mr. Corr said. “The race was 20 nautical miles, and it was a long race with long pounding reaches. It was exhausting, and I handed the wheel over to my main trimmer at the back of Peter Island.”

At the end of the day, sailors enjoyed a festive evening in the regatta village, where Mount Gay offered specialty rum drinks.

Round Tortola

The boats took to the waters again on Saturday for the Round Tortola Race. While several classes journeyed for hours around Tortola — the race started around 10 a.m. and the last boats finished around 6:30 p.m. — some raced shorter courses off the coast of Nanny Cay and the Road Town area.

“The course distance was 60, but the mileage we sailed was closer to 80. It was good. It was an exciting day; we were just a couple of hundred yards from Mach Schnell for the first half of the race before they broke their mainsheet,” said Jonathan McKee, a United States sailor aboard the Fujin. “They were ahead of us and sailing very well. It was really rough once we got around the top of Virgin Gorda and it was a tight reach, which is a difficult angle for these boats. Both boats were fighting hard to keep control. We ripped one of our sails, so we weren’t without damage either.”

Boats in the shorter races encountered squalls that tore sails and resulted in lost spinnakers. As a result, some boats went back to the dock during the day. “We had a big mess-up on our first hoist, then we blew the kite further down that run — completely shredded it,” said Sam Talbot, a sailor aboard Spike. “[El Ocaso] were faster upwind, higher upwind; their manoeuvres were perfect. They were the only boat that had no mess-ups on the course.”

Perfect conditions

The final day of sailing, Sunday, boasted perfect conditions, race organisers noted.

“Sunny blue skies, breeze in the mid-teens, and temperatures in the low 80s,” a press release stated.

Awards were presented later that day as the regatta and sailing festival wrapped up. Next year will be the 50th regatta, and organisers hope for another great event in 2023.