A Conversation with Spring Regatta Chairman Bob Phillips
FOCUSING ON THE FAMILY AT THIS YEAR'S EVENT
By Dean Greenaway
Innovations have been the hallmark of the annual BVI Spring Regatta. Among a series of improvements offered over the years have been separate courses with separate officials for racing, cruising and one design classes. This gives sailors what they really want – more races. Online results so competitors can monitor their progress in a timely fashion and adding a sailing festival were two more inovations. This year, organizers are focusing on making the event family oriented.
For ten years, the Sailing Festival, which preceded the Spring Regatta, sent boats up to North Sound early in the week. According to Bob Phillips Chairman of the Spring Regatta Committee, "People were saying 'we never get to see Tortola' then it struck us that is true. A lot of these crews, fly in and all they see of Tortola is from the airport to Nanny Cay."
This year all that changes. "We are going to do some fun things with them," said Phillips who has been the chairman since 1996, succeeding long-time chairman Peter Haycraft. "They'll be sailing around and down the north shores of Tortola, so they'll see that part of the island. Wednesday, they'll go have fun on a beach, do a little racing on the water.Then on Thursday, they'll get to do island tours, they'll do snorkeling, there's Dolphin Discovery, they'll get to visit restaurants for lunch – we're going to show off Tortola."
Phillips said the idea is to get more families involved. In the past, when the racers went up to North Sound the families stayed on Tortola, requiring two sets of accommodations, he noted.
"We heard this and said 'wow, let's put them all together,'" he said recalling the breaking point for the decision. "The racing people can race and return, they can have a villa, a condo and rooms together and do whatever, but they can all be together the whole week. And that is key I think to attracting the Puerto Ricans back to the event."
Phillips said they used to get 20 to 25 Puerto Rican boats but over the last ten years, that has decreased to five. The committee asked what they have to do to get them back and they were told they had to make the event more family oriented and holding the entire event at Nanny Cay was one way to achieve this.
Phillips said they would also like to get the small boats back – sunfish and beach cats for example – which haven't been involved in a few years. He is looking into ways to bring them back in the future, perhaps in 2014 or 2015 – and by changing the venue for this class.
"We are spending a lot of time and effort in building the Bareboat class. And this is important because it brings in family groups, not serious hardcore racers. They're going to stay longer, see more of the BVI and do more of the things that we want them to see and do," he explained. "We want to push the family aspect of it and get those boats that are more representative of the average sailor."
For more information call Judy Petz on 541-6732 or visit www.bvispringregatta.org.