Tortola, British Virgin Islands: International-class sailing in one of the most beautiful places anywhere, together with good fun and camaraderie, draws many happy customers back to the BVI Spring Regatta and Sailing Festival year after year.
Racing in the 48th edition of the event starts on Friday local time. The Regatta Village is officially open, and a walk on the docks at Nanny Cay highlights the exciting lineup of the 90 plus boats entered from 16 countries. Sailors from all over the world have arrived to soak up the uniquely Caribbean ambience and go racing!
It didn't take much arm-twisting by Jim Proctor to entice Johnny Roberts to get on board with a group of 28 guys from Birmingham, Alabama, to race this year. It is Roberts' first time in the BVI, but Proctor has been organizing the group who will race on five chartered Moorings 45s.
“It's become a competition within a competition,” Roberts joked. “Between our five boats there will be the fierce competition. I'm looking forward to the sailing which is relaxing and a great way to unwind from my busy life. I'm kind of glad my phone only sort of works here…” Roberts will be racing on Southern Wind, while Proctor is sailing on Senior Moment.
Carolyn and Ron Zarrella (USA) launched their stunning Taylor 49 Blackfish in 2017, and the boat is special to the pair for many reasons. Significantly it brought them together and they married in 2016. They met when Carolyn was Sailing Director at the Great Harbor Yacht Club and after Ron expressed an interest in having her help him design a new boat.
Blackfish is a Spirit of Tradition boat designed by Jim Taylor, who will be crewing for the Zarrellas. While she does have a modern keel, rudder and a carbon fiber mast, she was primarily built to compete with other classics. The boat is also a first-timer at Spring Regatta.
Todd Stuart (USA) is back for another dose with White Rhino 2 – an extremely quick Carkeek 47. Stuart previously raced in the BVI on his Swan 56, White Rhino, but the Carkeek will be one to watch out for.
The boat left Newport, RI. in early November to hit the Caribbean winter racing series, so the crew is a little regatta weary but looking forward to the BVI for the first time. “We'll have 12 to 14 crew. She's a really fast, fun boat and the more breeze the better,” said Joseph Waits who is the pitman and has been with the program for some nine years.
The Escaped Aussies are back, racing in their 19th global regatta. The group of sailing friends met in Sydney, Australia, and have since moved all over the world, so love to use regattas as a way to stay in touch and see the world.
In addition to sailing and enjoying regatta parties, the team will be donating to VISAR and Family Support Network – local Tortola charities. “Our team this year comprises sailors from Australia, Ireland, the UK and US. We'll fly about 32,000 collective miles to get to the BVI, but it's part of the fun,” Alan Slothhower, now living in North Carolina said.
“Point is, we know a good regatta when we see one,” he said on behalf of the crew who are racing on the J/120, Jaguar.
Racing for the eight competing classes will start at 10am on Friday in the Mount Gay Race Day, the first of the BVI Spring Regatta.