(Nanny Cay Marina, Tortola, British Virgin Islands)- There seems to be an interesting pattern developing since the beginning of the Caribbean offshore sailing season. J Teams are roaming across vast expanses of oceans like the pirate days of old, in a hunt to collect as much silverware (and Rolex watches) as they can, often winning the parties, too, before they head back to their home ports in late April. Something's happening, and it's all good!
So far, from Puerto Rico to Heineken St Maarten to Rolex Regatta in St Thomas, J teams have been cashing in their chips, having played a few good hands, and collected the big silver in all three events. And, the J wave keeps on rolling, with several more J's surfing onto the podium at this year's famous BVI Spring Regatta.
While St Maarten and Rolex were near perfect regattas this year for breeze, wind and sun, the BVI was anything but that! While the first two days saw good easterly winds funneling beautiful sunny breezes down the Sir Francis Drake Channel at 15-25 kts, the last day produced epic, stormy Atlantic conditions for much of the day. With winds roaring in from the north Atlantic, the sea state kicked up to six feet and the wind speed for the first start was 20 plus knots when a vicious squall darkened the horizon in The Channel. Blinding rain colder than the sea spray reduced visibility to just a few feet and had sailors scurrying for foul weather gear. With wet sails, slippery decks and the big easterly breeze blowing squalls in off the Atlantic, the last day of racing got off to a nasty start. However, conditions improved during the day with the squalls diminishing to allow the competitors to dry out in the fresh 15-20 knots of warm breeze and glimpse of sunshine through the broken cloud.
On the second day of racing, there was a bit of drama at the start of Spinnaker Racing 1 and 2 when Rick Wesslund's J/120 EL OCASO suffered a collision with another yacht in the starting area, which resulted in neither boat taking part in any of the day's racing. It was a rather unfortunate incident for Rick and crew as they were having a fantastic time, especially, sailing against their new-found arch-rivals, Sergio Sagramoso's J/122 LAZY DOG.
Nevertheless, as a result of this debacle, LAZY DOG's Puerto Rican team got away well in the first race to score their fourth bullet of the regatta and finished the day in style by winning again to open up a massive lead in the class. Harold Keating's J/95, SHAMROCK VII had a perfect score as well, taking all three races in Performance Cruiser 2. Stanford Joines, St.Croix-based J/36 PALADIN had a consistent day but slipped back to second overall in the class by a single point. Meanwhile, Bob Armstrong's fire-engine red J/100 called BAD GIRL was hanging on to third overall, seemingly having an impossible time trying to crack the top two spots.
On the last day, the Puerto Rican gang on the J/122 LAZY DOG finished the regatta with a bullet and a third place to win CSA Racing Class I. Having finally found a new gear, the St Croix boys on the J/100 BAD GIRL nailed two seconds, but not enough to hop into second, having to settle for third overall and some nice silverware.
In CSA Performance Cruiser 2 class, Harold Keating's J/95 SHAMROCK VII had a perfect score for the second day running to win the class by a big margin. Stanford Joines J/36 PALADIN was second and a nice performance by French women skipper, Sophie Olivaud to sailing her J/109 ALBACOR IV to fourth overall!
The BVI Spring Regatta hots up! All the time. Between the sailing on the water and the afternoon and evening entertainment, it's hard not to be entertained. For starters, they had the Bastanaak Swimwear and Beachwear Show, poolside, at the Nanny Cay Resort on Saturday afternoon. They exhibited stunning styles, handmade in South America from Bastanaak's Juliana Diaz Molano. Then, the day before, they had the spectacular aerial dancer, Nichole Raab who usually performs on the tall ship PROVIDENCE! However, she performed in the air suspended between massive palm trees along the shore at the Regatta Village. Then, the bands in the Village for late evening entertainment were quite good, with "Hudson & the Hoo Doo Cats" performing Friday and "Quito & the Edge" performing Saturday night. It was fun for all around the harbor and the resort pools and beaches! Can't imagine why anyone would want to leave after such a bacchanalian festival! For more BVI Spring Regatta sailing information