BVI Spring Regatta and Sailing Festival
The BVI's Hottest Sailing Ticket
Story by Claudia Colli
Photos by Daniel Mejía
Since 1972 the BVI Spring Regatta and Sailing Festival has been the British Virgin Islands hottest sailing ticket – growing bigger and more action-filled each year.
So what's new for 2014? "Plenty," says the event's Director, Judy Petz. "For one thing, there will be a good representation of high performance race boats." The Reichel Pugh designed Highland Fling, considered to be the "class act" at this year's Regatta and Piet Vroon's Tonnerre de Breskens, which has competed in 25 Fastnet Races in 50 years of racing, are two of these top international contenders.
A third course area has been added for the event's one-design boats – the locally popular IC 24 and a new participant, the J/70; there are over 500 of these "pocket rockets" racing in the US. The other two course areas include one for cruisers and another for racers.
Running a green regatta has been one of the event's primary goals over the last several years. Not only was it awarded a Gold Certificate by Sailors for the Sea Clean Regatta Program in 2013, it was deemed to be the world's first carbon neutral regatta. New this year organizers will be eliminating the sale of plastic water bottles and replacing them with refillable ones.
The Virgin Islands are known for its traditional island sloops, which plied throughout the islands in the 19th and early 20th centuries. A Spring Sloop Shootout will bring together four of the remaining classics and one replica for a race on Thursday, April 3rd.
Held from March 31st to April 6th, The 2014 BVI Spring Regatta and Sailing Festival will kick off with a Welcome and Registration party on Monday, March 31st at Nanny Cay, the regatta's headquarters. The next day, racers will participate in "The Round Tortola Race," a spectacular introduction to the scenic BVI. Wednesday's race will take sailors to an outer island beach where there will be a barbecue, bar and aquatic events. Shuttle boats for visitors will be provided, so all can join in the fun.
On Thursday, activities will center around Nanny Cay where there will be a Maritime Heritage display and the Spring Sloop Shootout.There will also be Laser and Optimist racing by young sailors in the Royal BVI Yacht Club Youth Program. As part of the event, the youngsters will participate in the Glasgow 2014 Queen's Baton Relay, a forerunner to the Commonwealth Games, which start this summer. Registration for the main event – the BVI Spring Regatta begins at noon on Thursday, followed by three days of incomparable racing on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
Evenings at the Regatta Village will keep the action lively. There will be food stalls, the ever-popular swimsuit fashion show and live music every night, capped off by an awards ceremony and party on Sunday night.
As Judy sums it up, "Whether you are a professional racer, a novice sailor or a landlubber out to party, the regatta has something for everyone." Go to www.bvispringregatta.org for more info.