Rain squalls ripped through the Sir Francis Drake Channel at the start of racing, enhancing the trade winds to over 20 knots for most of the day. A short sea state, at times rising to three metres when the fleet was racing out of the channel added gusto to the wet and wild conditions. Across the three combat zones, concentration, anticipation and ultimately boat handling were the keys to success in the big conditions. It wasn’t until later in the afternoon that the breeze subsided to a relatively calm 18 knots, but by then, several yachts had been forced to retire with boat damage on day one of the BVI Spring Regatta.
The action was fast and furious, especially in CSA Racing 1 on the SOL Course, with several boats surfing at well over 20 knots of boat speed. For the first race in CSA Racing 1, Steve & Heidi Benjamin’s HP40, Spookie port tacked the fleet at the pin end and eventually won the race after time correction. Spookie was also victorious in the second race, a technical windward leeward course. However, TP52 Team Varg/Conviction, skippered by Ola Hox was the winner of the third and final race of the day. Spookie leads the class by a single point from Team Varg / Conviction. The Trinidad team racing Mark Chapman’s Kerr 11.3, Dingo had a solid day to take third place after three races.
“That was a lot of fun, we hit 22 knots of boat speed on one surf – a wet and wild day,” smiled Spookie’s owner/driver, Steve Benjamin. “For the first start, we spotted a wind shift towards Tortola due to a squall and we wanted the pin because of that. The second race, we sailed well, the boat was constantly at polar speed but in the last race, we managed to snag a fish-pot which cost us time. Conviction was impressive today, the guys had great boat speed and handled the conditions well.”
In CSA Racing 3, Debbie Clasen’s BVI Tartan 10, Windemon had a great day on the water, winning the first two races and placed second in the third. British tactician Andrew Kerr, who now lives in Seattle spoke about their strategy: “Before racing, we emphasised that you can’t win the regatta on the first day but you can certainly lose it. So our approach today was to race well but not take any big risks and have a solid day. The big conditions definitely suited Windemon upwind today, especially in the first two races, but in the last race, a short beat and a long reach really suited the Melges 24, Boogaloo. Fair play to them, they sailed past us on the reach and kept the boat under control. Tomorrow, it looks like we may have similar conditions and all we really want to do is to try and make sure we have a chance of winning the class by the last race on Sunday.”
Windemon lead CSA Racing 3 with Morgan Dale’s Melges 24, Boogaloo in second and Jordan Mindich’s J/105, Solstice in third. Unfortunately, Paul Davis’ J/27, Magnificent 7 suffered rig damage, all of the crew are safely ashore.
The Melges 32 Class enjoyed four electric windward leeward races on the One Design Course. Jaime Torres’ Puerto Rican team on Smile and Wave came off the water on top by a single point from Luis Juarbe’s Soca. Sergio Sagramoso’s Lazy Dog made it a 1-2-3 for Puerto Rico after four races but suffered rig damage on the last race, which will keep the team busy with a repair tonight.
“This Smile and Wave team have been together for a long time and I think that showed today,” commented Jaime Torres. “We put in maybe 15 heavy weather gybes and they were all fine; that takes a good crew. However, our upwind speed is not as good as it could be, the short chop today was a big factor. Some of the guys had failures today, we have a few small repairs but nothing that will stop us racing tomorrow. I put that down to a good team and a well maintained boat. It was tough racing today in those conditions but I have to hand it to the Race Committee; we had good square courses of just the right length and rest in between. We were pretty much exhausted by the end, but the Race Office gave us a great and challenging day on the water.”
Congratulations should go to the yachts with a perfect score after Day One of the BVI Spring Regatta. Bob Beltrano’s Swan 53 Nai’a, Keith LiGreci’s Jeanneau 40 Girasoli, Charles Garrard’s Sunsail 44i Team Merlin, Rob Swain Sailing’s Beneteau 423 Lazy Daze, Ryan Wooldridge’s Trimaran Triple Jack and Richard Palm’s Outremer 51 Archer. Other noteworthy performances today were not even racing. Spookie’s chase boat towed Magnificent 7 back to Nanny Cay after their rig failed and BVI Spring Regatta Chairman, Bob Phillips was calling in all sorts of favours to assist Lazy Dog in repairing their spreader damage – you need someone like Bob on Good Friday!
This evening in the Regatta Village at Nanny Cay crews will enjoy music by the Shooting Star Steel Pan Band and Hudson and the Hoo Doo Cats.
Racing at the BVI Spring Regatta continues tomorrow, with similar conditions expected out on the race course. For pictures, video and full results, visit www.bvispringregatta.org