The 50th edition of the BVI Spring Regatta and Sailing Festival is under way, with at least 71 boats registered to compete in the main races this weekend.
“The feeling around the regatta village is great,” Regatta Director Judy Petz told the Beacon yesterday morning. “The energy is really good. People are excited, and travelling to the BVI has been very much relaxed for the participants. We can see the energy reflected in terms of the entries.”
Participants have journeyed from countries and territories including the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, Antigua, Puerto Rico and others to compete in several regatta events that got under way on Tuesday and will continue through Sunday.
As of Wednesday morning, organisers were pleased with the turnout following three years of struggles. Since 2020, the Covid-19 pandemic had caused problems for the regatta, leading to its cancellation in 2020 and 2021 and a slightly downsized version last spring.
But this year, Ms. Petz said she believes the event has returned to its pre-pandemic level. “We feel very much like it’s back,” she said. So far, the weather has cooperated too. “The winds are perfect,” Ms. Petz said yesterday. “We have had blue skies. We had some rain last night, but that was in the middle of the night.”
On the water
Event registration opened on Monday as boats arrived to Nanny Cay Marina. The next day, preliminary racing got under way as more than 40 teams competed in the Round Tortola Race, which was held for the first time since 2019.
In that event, the Cape 31 sailboat Flying Jenny — owned and skippered by American sailor Sandy Askew — took first in its class and won the Nanny Cay Cup for fastest corrected time of four hours, 19 minutes and 17 seconds, organisers said.
“We have an amazing team around Sandy,” said United Kingdom national Josie Giddon, the boat’s navigator. “Sandy has pulled together a cool race team. She is using the Caribbean as our winter training, and then we will go back to the UK with the boat, where there is a fleet of about 20 Cape 31s, and then we will do a full season in the UK.”
Though Flying Jenny earned fastest corrected time, the first boat across the line was Nemo, an HH66 catamaran owned and skippered by Todd Slyngstad of California, according to organisers. Nemo’s elapsed time of 2:58:05 was corrected to 4:28:53. “It was a great day, although we did break the mainsheet just before the finish,” Mr. Slyngstad told the regatta press office.
“It exploded, and it’s not an easy fix. We’ll be on it all day. Our container with spares is in St. Maarten, but lucky we have a very nice neighbour — Mach Schnell’s container is here and they have helped us out, which is really great.”
The action continued yesterday, when at least 53 boats were registered for the Scrub Island Invitational, a three-to-four hour race from Nanny Cay to Scrub Island, according to regatta press officer Trish Jenkins. As of Wednesday morning, the outlook for the 11-nautical-mile race “was more of the fabulous same,” the organisers said in a press release that touted “15- knot easterlies and a perfectly warm, sunny BVI day.”
The race was to be followed by a barbecue and awards ceremony at Scrub Island Resort, Spa and Marina.
On Thursday, the focus shifted to the regatta village at Nanny Cay, which was scheduled to open at 2 p.m. and to feature entertainment from DJ Wiz and Wing It Band this evening.
Today, Spring Regatta racing will officially commence with the Mount Gay Race Day. The competition will continue through the weekend, leading up to the final awards ceremony scheduled for 5:30 p.m. on Sunday. Entertainment will be held each night at the regatta village.
Last year, the issues caused by the pandemic were exacerbated in the weeks leading up to the regatta after government seized several charter vessels for noncompliance with various laws.
To prevent a recurrence this year, organisers have been working closely with government agencies including the Shipping Registry and the Customs and Immigration departments, Ms. Petz said. “We have resolved the main issues we had last year,” she said. “Our relations this year is really good.”
This year, she added, customs and immigration officers have warmly welcomed arriving sailors. “Some participants said it’s the best entry they had coming into the country,” she said. “I think any issues we had before are very much resolved. The government has helped to get any issues resolved.”