With light winds forecasted, all competitors welcomed a moderate breeze for the inaugural Royal BVI Yacht Club race to the Bitter End Yacht Club on May 7-8.

The two-day regatta consisted of two races. On Saturday, sailors raced from Road Town to North Sound, with St. Thomas boat Wild T’ing skippered by Lawrence Aqui taking the top spot.

On the Sunday, the race back to Road Town was a pursuit race, and Sorceress skippered by Heath Copland was the winner.

There were three boats from St. Thomas, which provided tight competition.

With the start of the handicap race on Saturday in Road Town harbour, most competitors elected to start at the pin end of the start line. Virgin Islands boat Luxury Girl took an early lead, but was over taken by Hotel California.

Luxury Girl and Wild T’ing then matched each other tack for tack all the way to Beef Island and beyond. They split off the Dogs, when Wild T’ing took a route very close to Virgin Gorda’s north shore.

It proved to be a decisive move, wich provided better wind and as a result were able to ensure they  had enough of a winning margin to beat Luxury Girl, despite its bigger handicap.

Hotel California took line honours, but were third on corrected time.

Competitors were treated to a “punch and pizza” party by the BEYC on Saturday evening and prizes of rum and beer went to the top three boats.  

Following a relaxing morning, the boats headed back to Tortola on Sunday afternoon, under the pursuit race format. Some of the St. Thomas boats had to leave earlier to ensure they got home on time, so the race was contested by Sorceress, Luxury Girl and Hotel Califonia.

Sorceress left first, enjoying a 10-minute head start over Luxury Girl.

Flying spinnakers downwind, Luxury Girl gradually closed the gap on Sorceress, and by the time the boats reached Beef Island they were getting ready to take the lead. Unfortunately, the unpredictable wind in the shadow of Beef Island caused Luxury Girl to gybe accidentally, resulting in a member of their crew, Mark Critchlow, being knocked overboard. Fortunately he was not injured and he was recovered safely, but in doing so Luxury Girl used its engine and was disqualified.

This left Sorceress to cross the finish line first, having maintained enough of a gap on Hotel California to take the victory.

“We were really worried that we were going to be caught by Luxury Girl, but once we saw one of their crew go for a swim we knew we’d be fine,” Mr. Copland joked.

Despite not winning either race, the Luxury Girl crew were happy with the regatta.

“I’m really pleased with our performance this weekend. We held Wild T’ing for most of the race on Saturday, and if we had followed the same route as them we might even have won,” Luxury Girl skipper Guy  Phoenix said. “On Sunday I knew we had the speed to catch Sorceress, but obviously crew safety comes first. Having said that, Mark is in training for swimming the North Sound next month, so he had a bit of open ocean practice when he went overboard.”  

The next RBVIYC race is the Lowell Wheatley Memorial Race to Anegada on May 21.

For more information go to: www.royalbviyc.org or contact the yacht club at sailing@royalbviyc.org