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41st BVI Spring Regatta & Sailing Festival: A Grand Finale

April 03, 2012

A southeasterly breeze of about 12-15 knots coming from Dead Chest Island, offered shifty conditions for a tense last day of racing at the BVI Spring Regatta & Sailing Festival. On Sunday, April 1 all classes competed in the Sir Francis Drake Channel outside Nanny Cay and there was plenty of traffic to fight with. Probably the most important factor was staying in clear air and spotting the shifts as they whipped over and around the chain of islands on the south side of the Channel.

Spectacular scenery on the race course at the BVI Spring Regatta

Spectacular scenery on the race course at the BVI Spring Regatta & Sailing Festival where warm water and hot racing are guaranteed Credit: Todd vanSickle/BVI Spring Regatta & Sailing Festival

Regatta Chairman, Bob Phillips has been on the water every day during the regatta and he is rightly proud of the 2012 edition: “Above all, sailors love sailing and the BVI Spring Regatta has an excellent race area. In the present economic climate an entry of 100 boats has got to be seen as a success, especially as we have attracted larger yachts including seven Swans and the STP 65 sailing yacht Equation. However, the BVI Spring Regatta & Festival is not just about the big boats. This year the event celebrates its 41st year and it has always been about providing good racing for a wide variety of people on the race course and great entertainment back on the shore.”

In the Multihull Class, Peter Aschenbrenner’s ballistic trimaran yacht Paradox, was the comfortable winner. This is Peter’s first regatta although he is no stranger to the BVI: “This is my fourth trip to the BVI. It’s such a spectacular place and I have to say that we have really enjoyed the regatta, largely because of the courses that we have been given, especially mixing it up with the keelboat fleet on the second day. It would be great to have some other multihulls of the same speed. The atmosphere at the regatta is excellent, we would just like a bit more competition.”

In Class 1, clear air at the start is something that Stefan Lehnert’s Tripp 56 yacht Passion 4C has been wanting throughout the regatta, but Bill Alcott’s STP65, Equation has just too much speed. Although Passion 4C have started well all week, the German team was not able to hold their lane. However, two short windward leeward races today favoured Passion 4C and the German team put in a perfect performance to finish the regatta in style winning both races. Jason Putley was spotted on board Equation today, a big treat for the 13-year-old BVI bowman.

Nanny Cay Resort

Nanny Cay Resort, Marina & Boatyard Credit: Todd vanSickle/BVI Spring Regatta & Sailing Festival

In Class 2, Peake Yacht Service, RP37 yacht Slippery took the first race of the day to put pressure on class leader, Willem Wester’s Grande Soleil 46 yacht Antilope. The two Farr 400s pinned Antilope out on the left of the course and Slippery got away well on the favoured right side and covered Antilope from the front, effectively slowing them down. However, Antilope came back strongly in the last two races to take the class title. Blade won the battle of the Farr 400s, beating Magnitude in all three races today.

In Class 3, Richard Wesslund’s J/120 yacht El Ocaso put in another solid performance, scoring a win in the first race and two 2nd places to clinch the class win. El Ocaso has not scored out of the top three in the nine race series. Jaime Torres’ First 40 sailing yacht Smile and Wave has a conventional spinnaker pole and today’s windward leeward racing is probably what the Puerto Ricans wanted all week. However the team will take great satisfaction is scoring two wins today. Ondeck’s First 40 yacht Lancelot II skippered by Chris (Jacko) Jackson claimed third. In the Melges 24 division, Andrea Scarabelli’s Budget Marine/Gill from St.Martin held off local BVI team, Fire Water skippered by Henry Leonnig.

In Class 5, Ian Hope-Ross First 36.7 yacht Kick ‘em Jenny corrected out to win the first race of the day and two further podium finishes secured the class win for the team from St.Martin.

Kevin Rowlette’s Olson 30 yacht Rushin’ Rowlette sailed extremely well today and was rewarded with two race wins but the Tortolans had to settle for second place for the class, but Kevin Rowlette was delighted to be named best BVI Boat at the regatta winning the Premier’s Cup: ‘It’s been a lot of fun, great sailing on an interesting variety of courses and we were really in with a good chance of winning the Class, but losing a guy over the side with the spinnaker up doing 10 knots put an end to that, but we got him back on board okay. It is really an honour to be named best BVI boat as there are so many good BVI teams at this regatta.”

Bill Alcott

Bill Alcott/Ed Palm/Tom Anderson's STP 65 Farr sailing yacht Equation win Class 1 Credit: Todd vanSickle

In Class 7, there was a dramatic change to the overnight standings. Class leader, Henry van Melle’s J/46 Jent went from 1st overall to 3rd. Andy Middleton’s First 47.7 yacht Global Yacht Racing scored three podium finishes to clinch second place in the class but it was a very happy Christian Reynolds on the dock after today’s racing. His Swan 51 sailing yacht Northern Child scored two wins and a 2nd to win the class:

“With light weather and windward leeward courses, I knew Andy (Middleton) was the biggest threat today,” admitted Reynolds. “Jent has small headsails to reduce her rating and we thought they wouldn’t go well in the light, but I have to put a lot of credit down to our crew. It was busy out there and we had to keep concentrating and pulling off the maneuvers and we knew that would put us in with a chance. Winning at this regatta is very special, it really is a lot of fun and we fully intend to fill the trophy with Mount Gay Rum tonight and celebrate long into the evening.”

In Class 8, Warren Thring’s Cold Beer raised a cheer scoring their first podium finish of the regatta but Antonio Sanpere’s J/36 yacht Cayennita Grande won the first race today by a huge margin to secure the class win.

In Class 9 Jon Charlton & Claude Bonanni’s Team Red Stripe won today’s only race. However, Keith Smith LiGreci’s Girasoli came 2nd, which was enough to secure the class win: “This is the first major regatta with the boat and we are absolutely delighted to win our class,” said Keith. “Although Girasoli is new this year, the team have been sailing together for years with Bill Berardelli who passed away recently and I would like to dedicate this win to his memory, he was a great guy.”

In the IC24 Class, Frits Bus finished the 14-race series in style to clinch the overall victory with Andrew Waters’, Conch-Querer second. There was an intense battle for the last podium position between Peter Houtzagers’ Satisfaction and David Irwins’ Grey Ghost; Satisfaction won the encounter by a single point.

In Bareboat 1, Dick Backstom’s Soul Mates finished the regatta on a high winning the last race. However the class title goes to Christine Joseph’s Sexy and We Know It. Tijmen van Elst’s BK Grondlogistiek takes second with Soul Mates third.

In Bareboat 2, Neil Harvey’s Acadia won today’s race and an outstanding protest was dropped giving Acadia the overall class title. Bill Petersen & Peter Stazicker’s Team Trolly Car were second overall and Rob Swain Sailing School racing Perelandra scored a third in today’s race to win a close battle with Team Cape Fear and AvalonRacing, to take 3rd place for the regatta.

In the Bareboat Class the winner of the International Yacht Club Challenge is BK Grondlogistiek representing the IJmuidenYacht Club in Holland, winning the substantial prize of a week’s free charter in the BVI from Sunsail. The second prize of two round trip tickets from Cape Air goes to Avalon Racing representing the Caernarfonshire Yacht Club in Wales.

The Prizegiving on Sunday´s evening brought the BVI Spring Regatta & Sailing Festival to a close, with a presence of 2,000 revelers and cabaret provided by Moko Jumbies striding through the beachside tents on giant stilts. Live music from Gazebo lighted the blue touch paper with a set including reggae, rock & roll and rock anthems.

2012 Les Voiles de St Barth: BACK FOR MORE

April 03, 2012

On the eve of the third running of Les Voiles de St. Barth, April 2-7, the palm-fringed port of Gustavia, St. Barthlemy quickly filled with an impressive array of race boats: ocean-racing maxis including the 90-foot sailing yacht Rambler and the Swan 112, charter yacht Highland Breeze; classic beauties such the Olin Stephen-designed Dorade sailing yacht and the Fife-built yawl Mariella; a trio of IRC 52s, multi-hulls including the 66 Gunboat Phaedo, and two large racing classes with a mix of Melges, J/boats, and a mix of 40-footers, including the hot-off-the-press Carkeek 40, Decision.

Sailing yacht Nilaya heads out for practice prior to the start of Les Voiles de St Barth © Christophe Jouany  Les Voiles de St. Barth

Sailing yacht Nilaya heads out for practice prior to the start of Les Voiles de St Barth © Christophe Jouany Les Voiles de St. Barth

Over 60 boats are registered for this year’s edition, up from with a large number of returning entries, proof that the regatta has filled the need for spirited competition towards the end of the winter season a time when tourism typically begins to wind down in the Caribbean. Though that was hard to tell yesterday, at the islands tiny airport, as the steady stream of small commuter planes landing were filled with a duffle bag-wielding collection of sailors from the ranks of the Americas Cup, round-the-world-ocean races, and Olympic competition, that included Gavin Brady (Vesper), Scott Vogel (Rambler), Bouwe Bekking (yacht Nilaya), Cam Lewis (Paradox), Charlie McKee and Ross MacDonald (Mayhem), Tony Rey, Jeff Madrigali, and Nacho Postigo (Powerplay), and Dee Smith (Decision).

Gustavia Harbour on the eve of the start of Les Voiles de St Barth - Credit Christophe Jouany Les Voiles de St. Barth

Gustavia Harbour on the eve of the start of Les Voiles de St Barth - Credit Christophe Jouany Les Voiles de St. Barth

But it’s not just the professionals that flock to Les Voiles de St. Barth, the regattas program and mix of courses also appeals to a competitive group of amateur and family racers that hone their skills on the growing circuit of Caribbean regattas that take advantage of this sailing paradise.

While not the easiest of destinations to reach some U.S. west coast sailors logged 16+ hours in transit, while others from Europe only slightly less the island of St Barths itself is a welcome reward at the end of the road: a turquoise blue, crystal-clear sea, pristine white sand beaches, and an array of fabulous restaurants just payoff for a long day’s journey.

Francesco Mongelli, navigator onboard Jim Swartz IRC52 Vesper, is here racing in St Barth’s for the first time. The Italian sailor, who sails primarily in Europe, has been racing with the Vesper crew since last October, and was clearly keen to have touched down in this French paradise, Its a mix of all the best sailing places, together with perfect weather and good food. Having spent the afternoon in a tender carefully checking out the coastline and charted (and uncharted) rock outcroppings, Mongelli added, Its pretty similar to Porto Cervo, the difference is that there you more or less know where everything is, and the charts are accurate. You cannot take the same risk here that wed take in Porto Cervo.

Atmosphere on the dockside at Les Voiles de Saint Barth © Christophe Jouany  Les Voiles de St. Barth

Atmosphere on the dockside at Les Voiles de Saint Barth © Christophe Jouany Les Voiles de St. Barth

Racing will run from Tuesday, April 3 to Saturday, April 7 and will feature a mix of Olympic triangles, short coastal courses, and a 20-30 nautical mile round-the island race. The fleet will be split into seven classes: Maxi (> 21 meters), IRC52 (former TP52s that have been optimized for the IRC rule), Spinnaker I + II, Non-Spinnaker (racer/cruiser), Classic (vintage/traditional), and Multihull. Thursday is a layday at Nikki Beach, with lunch and a full afternoon of activities, including a paddleboard competition.

New this year, Les Voiles will offer real-time race tracking with 2D visualization via the internet. Waypoint-Tracking developed the system in close collaboration with ISAF. The site will allow enthusiasts to follow the daily racing action live or to replay at a later time.

Many of the competing boats are moored stern-to at the Quai General de Gaulle, site of the Race Village, where all of the daily breakfast and post-race activities and music take place. This evening, skippers and tacticians were on hand for the Skippers Briefing led by Loic Ponceau, Race Committee Chairman, and organizers Francois Tolede, Luc Poupon, and Annelisa Gee. Following that was Les Voiles St. Barth Opening Ceremony, where Bruno Magras, President of the Collectivit of St. Barth, welcomed more than 500 sailors to the weeklong event.

A regular and enthusiastic competitor in the Caribbean, Sir Peter Harrison was named the godfather or patron of this year’s Les Voiles. Harrison, owner of the 115-foot Farr-designed Sojana yacht, told the crowd, “As a visitor from England to this beautiful French island, one of the most beautiful in the West Indies, I’m thrilled to be asked to the patron of Les Voiles. Bon vent Les Voiles de St. Barth, and good luck, everyone!”

Also sailing on sailing yacht Sojana is Lionel Pan, who is also back for his third Les Voiles. He said, “Obviously there are plenty of good reasons to be here, and to come back every year with the same enthusiasm: this place is made for sailing. In a very short time, Les Voiles de St. Barth has become the place to be, very much like Saint Tropez in the Mediterranean. And the word is spreading around. Shortly there will be a waiting list to be a part of the event!”

Whisper heads out to practice for Les Voiles de Saint Barth © Christophe Jouany  Les Voiles de St. Barth

Whisper heads out to practice for Les Voiles de Saint Barth © Christophe Jouany Les Voiles de St. Barth

The weather forecast for the next few days calls for light winds, though the breeze is expected to increase throughout the week. Racing is scheduled to start tomorrow, Tuesday, April 3, two miles northwest of Sugarloaf Rock off Gustavia; one race is scheduled with a start time of 12noon.

BVI Spring Regatta & Sailing Festival 2012: Farr 400 sailing yacht Blade wins the 2012 Nanny Cay Cup

March 30, 2012

Big breeze as well as ocean swell offered a right motivation to the sailors in the Nanny Cay Cup. The 22-mile race from Virgin Gorda to Nanny Cay Marina in Tortola was an amazing spectacle. The 34-yacht fleet took pleasure in a blasting reach through the foaming waters of The Sir Francis Drake Channel in fabulous Caribbean sunshine.

Winner of the 2012 Nanny Cay Cup - Michael Shlens´ Farr 400 sailing yacht Blade

Winner of the 2012 Nanny Cay Cup - Michael Shlens Farr 400 sailing yacht Blade

However, Peter Aschenbrenner’s 63ft Trimaran yacht Paradox was given a separate course outside the channel. The giant multihull was searing through the ocean swell, often close to airborne and consistently hitting speeds in excess of 20 knots. Paradox completed their 25-mile course in just one hour and 40 minutes.

In the Racing Class, Michael Shlens Farr 400 sailing yacht Blade, cut through the surf with precision to beat sistership, Doug Baker’s Magnitude, by over four minutes. Blade took the corrected time win in the Racing Class with Blade in second place. Third was Bill Alcott’s STP 65 yacht Equation which was the first monohull home by a significant margin. Blade had world-class tactician, Dee Smith on board.

“The Farr 400 just loves these conditions,” commented Dee. “The all carbon structure means that Blade gets on the plane easily and the reach through the channel was a real joy. So far 10, Farr400s have been built and they are spread out all over the world, but it would be great to have a full class enjoying these fabulous conditions.”

There was high drama in the Cruising Class with a tie for first place on corrected time. BVI skipper, Antonio Sanpere with a crew from the Naval Academy Sailing Squadron is racing his J36 yacht Cayennita Grande. The local boat corrected out to exactly the same time as Shamrock VII owned by Boston sailor, Thomas Mullen. However, Shamrock VII and Alan Fougere’s J/160 Avatar results are subject to a protest hearing.

In the Bareboat Class, Leonard Nekeman’s Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 44i yacht Lucky Dutch took line honours by some margin. Neil Harvey’s Dufour 425 yacht Acadia was next to finish but only a single second ahead of Hans Schrederhof’s Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 44i. The rest of the fleet were not far behind; a ball of boats competing for places meant that the entire chasing pack finished within minutes of each other. After time correction, the winner was actually the last boat to finish, Peter Rutkowski’s Beneteau Oceanis 361 yacht Perelandra. Bill Petersen and Peter Stazicker’s Team Trolly Car were just 10 seconds off the winning time in second place from Neil Harvey’s Acadia, which claimed third.

Tonight the official Opening Party for the 41st BVI Spring Regatta took place and Michael Shlens Farr 400 sailing yacht Blade was awarded the Nanny Cay Cup for their outstanding performance in the Racing Division, especially by beating another one design Farr 400 by a significant margin but also for correcting out ahead of STP65 yacht Equation, which is significantly larger that the 38 foot Farr 40.

BVI Spring Regatta & Sailing Festival 2012: the Bitter End Cup won by Dufour 405 sailing yacht Team Trolly Car

March 30, 2012

Racing finally started yesterday for the BVI Sailing Festival with a 30 mile race around the fabulous Caribbean island of Virgin Gorda. A 15-knot easterly breeze with flat water offered awesome sailing conditions to the sailors.

Champagne sailing for BVI Sailing Festival competitors racing round Virgin Gorda for the Bitter End Cup Credit: BVI Yacht Shots/BVI Spring Regatta & Sailing Festival

Champagne sailing for BVI Sailing Festival competitors racing round Virgin Gorda for the Bitter End Cup Credit: BVI Yacht Shots/BVI Spring Regatta & Sailing Festival

First away was Peter Aschenbrenner’s 63ft Trimaran yacht Paradox with round the world legend Cam Lewis on board calling tactics. The ballistic multihull was first to finish by some distance, completing the course in an elapsed time of three hours, nine minutes and six seconds, just 13 minutes shy of the course record set by Swan 82 charter yacht Virago.

Paradox owner, Peter Aschenbrenner comes from San Francisco but he has an international crew on board from America, Britain and France. “We sail just six up, as Paradox has power assisted winches and hydraulic systems,” commented Aschenbrenner. “This is my first trimaran but I have been sailing skiffs for a while. I knew the designer Nigel Irens as a friend and I love asymmetric sailing and going fast! It would be nice to see other trimarans come here for the Festival. There are many multihulls in the Caribbean and the BVI is such a great place to come sailing. Today, I especially enjoyed the reach past Necker Island, really enjoyable, fantastic sailing.”

Line honours for Peter Aschenbrenner's 63ft Trimaran in the Round Virgin Gorda Race today  Credit: BVI Yacht Shots/BVI Spring Regatta & Sailing Festival

Line honours for Peter Aschenbrenner's 63ft Trimaran yacht in the Round Virgin Gorda Race Credit: BVI Yacht Shots/BVI Spring Regatta & Sailing Festival

Neil Harvey’s Dufour 425 yacht Acadia led the bareboat fleet from start to finish. In a highly competitive start, Acadia took a port flyer and crossed the entire flotilla. Once in clear air their advantage was magnified by a lift onto starboard tack and Acadia looked to have got away to a winning lead but were destined not to even make the top three.

Dufour 405 sailing yacht Team Trolly Car sailed by Bill Petersen and Peter Stazicker corrected out to win by just over two minutes from Leonard Nekeman’s Lucky Dutch, (who were spotted in the Bitter End grocery store purchasing a case of Heineken prior to the race!). Timen van Elst’s Sunsail 44i BK, Grondlogistiek was third by just 24 seconds.

In the Cruising Class, Stephen Schmidt’s Santa Cruz 70 yacht Hotel California Too, put in an impressive performance to take monohull line honours. But there was a long wait to decide the winner of the Cruising Division on handicap. Alain Fougere’s J/160 Avatar yacht corrected out to win the class but had to wait close to an hour to be sure of the win. Thomas Mullen’s J/95 Shamrock VII was a desperately close second by just a minute with Hotel California Too in third.

Last year's BVI Spring Regatta Winners, Antilope has top Dutch sailor on board, Bouwe Bekking Credit: BVI Yacht Shots

Last year's BVI Spring Regatta Winners, Antilope yacht has top Dutch sailor on board, Bouwe Bekking Credit: BVI Yacht Shots

The Racing Class start was an intense affair. A dog-fight kicked off between several boats in the starting sequence. Molto Bene was called back on an individual recall but returned to start correctly. Stefan Lehnert’s Tripp 57 yacht Passion 4C made a conservative start but got away well. Notably Passion 4C held their genoa through the lee of Prickly Island and stayed high rather than going for an early hoist. Michael Shlens’ Farr 400 sailing yacht Blade went for an earlier spinnaker and looked to have caught a hyper-gust, which knocked them sideways. Global Yacht Racing’s First 44.7, skippered by Marcus Chollerton-Brown put in an impressive performance to finish fourth in the Racing Class. Especially as this was the first time the team from the Manhattan Yacht Club had ever raced the yacht.

The Prize Giving at The Crawl Pub, Bitter End was a lively affair thanks to Gold Sponsors, Heineken and Mount Gay Rum. John Glenn, VP of sales and marketing for the Bitter End Yacht Club announced the winners and thanked the competitors for coming to what has been a very enjoyable stay in the out of this world surroundings of the North Sound.

The overall winner of The Bitter End Cup was awarded to Team Trolly Car. Much to the delight of Donna Jo Petersen, who was also celebrating her birthday on board. “It has just been a fantastic day, the guys worked so hard and we had a tremendous battle with Acadia but to win on my birthday with my son, husband and old friends on board was a dream come true, it just doesn’t get better than that.”

Christian and Lucy Reynolds, Swan 51, Northern Child Credit:  BVI Yacht Shots

Christian and Lucy Reynolds, Swan 51 sailing yacht Northern Child Credit: BVI Yacht Shots

Racing concludes today with the Nanny Cay Cup, the first warning will sound at 1000 and a prize giving will be held at the Nanny Cay Marina in Tortola.

Italy’s top commercial television network to broadcast 10 hours live racing from Naples America´s Cup World Series

March 29, 2012

Italy‘s top commercial television network Mediaset has signed a contract to carry up to 10 hours of live television coverage throughout Italy of the highly anticipated America’s Cup World Series races, taking place from April 11 to 15 in Naples.

America´s Cup World Series 2011

America´s Cup World Series 2011

Mediaset SpA., known as Gruppo Mediaset in Italy, through its Italia 1 and Italia 2 channels, will showcase the international Naples races with live, free-to-air coverage.

“Italian fans are the most passionate in the world and we are bringing them 10 hours of live coverage of this exciting sport, staged in one of the most historically important and beautiful cities in Italy,” said Luca Tiraboschi, Director of Italia 1 and Mediaset Italia 2.

The new look America’s Cup broadcasts put the spotlight on the sailors, with on-board cameras and microphones, and Liveline technology that overlays virtual graphics on the live television pictures, giving viewers more information than ever before.

Mediaset joins a group of leading broadcasters that already includes NBC in the United States, TVNZ in New Zealand, Sky Sports in the UK, Canal+ in France and Viasat in Scandinavia, among others. Similar to Mediaset, Sky Sports in the UK has scheduled up to 10 hours of live coverage from the AC World Series Naples.

The Naples event features 11 yachts with 9 different teams from 8 countries, including: Luna Rossa Challenge, Italy (Skipper Max Sirena), Two Boats – (two helmsmen TBA on April 4); Aleph, France (Skipper TBA); Artemis Racing, Sweden (Skipper Terry Hutchinson); China Team, China (Skipper TBA in China March 30); Emirates Team New Zealand, New Zealand (Skipper Dean Barker); Energy Team, France (Helmsmen Loick Peyron/Yann Guichard); Green Comm Racing, Spain (Skipper Vasilij Zbogar); ORACLE Racing, USA – Two Boats – Skippers Jimmy Spithill and Darren Bundock; and, Team Korea, Korea (Skipper Nathan Outteridge).

Currently leading the 2011/2012 America’s Cup World Series overall standings is Emirates Team New Zealand skippered by Dean Barker, who come into the Naples event leading by just 1 point from ORACLE Racing Spithill.

But the competition is getting stronger. In Naples, Luna Rossa will join the America’s Cup line-up again with two boats entered, reviving a presence in the America’s Cup which dates back to 1999.

“I think Luna Rossa might be considered the favorite in Italy,” commented Jimmy Spithill, the ORACLE Racing skipper, mounting pressure on the newcomers to perform on home waters. “To be honest, I would not be surprised if they were to win. They are in their home country with two of the best helmsmen in these boats.”

Mediaset will also provide live coverage of the AC World Series in Venice (May) and Newport, Rhode Island (June).

BVI Spring Regatta & Sailing Festival 2012: The first day´s racing called off

March 28, 2012

There was no racing yesterday, on the first day of the BVI Sailing Festival. Principal Race Officer, Dave Brennan postponed the start of the race to Bitter End and indicated to the 48 racing yachts in the starting area to head for Virgin Gorda, to find out if the situation would get better. In the vicinity of Ginger Island, there were some signs of a stable wind developing, but it was short lived and competing for the day was cancelled shortly after 1100.

A windless day at Nanny Cay for the first day of racing in the prelude to the BVI Spring Regatta Credit: Todd vanSickle/BVI Spring Regatta & Sailing Festival

A windless day at Nanny Cay for the first day of racing in the prelude to the BVI Spring Regatta Credit: Todd vanSickle/BVI Spring Regatta & Sailing Festival

“Unfortunately the wind has not materialized and there will be no racing today.” Commented Dave Brennan, Principal Race Officer: “The important thing is now to make sure the fleet gets to the Bitter End Yacht Club as every indicator available to us is forecasting that there will be no wind today. However, tomorrow is looking far more promising with possibly 15 knots of breeze, so we hope to get the racing started then, perhaps with a race around Virgin Gorda for the Bitter End Cup.”

Hoping for breeze on day one of the Sailing Festival from Nanny Cay to Bitter End Yacht Club Credit: Todd vanSickle/BVI Spring Regatta & Sailing Festival

Hoping for breeze on day one of the Sailing Festival from Nanny Cay to Bitter End Yacht Club Credit: Todd vanSickle/BVI Spring Regatta & Sailing Festival

Yesterday, the fleet could enjoy a race around Virgin Gorda which will result in some spectacular scenery. Notably, The Baths located on the southern end of the island, these unusual geologic formations echo the island’s volcanic origins, as huge granite boulders lie in piles on the beach, forming scenic grottoes that are open to the sea.

Regatta bow stickers are carefully applied. Ready to race!  Credit: Todd vanSickle/BVI Spring Regatta & Sailing Festival

Regatta bow stickers are carefully applied. Ready to race! Credit: Todd vanSickle/BVI Spring Regatta & Sailing Festival

With an early arrival at the Bitter End Yacht Club, competitors will be able to take advantage of some fabulous facilities, including all manner of aquatic sports, restaurants and beach bars. Many local sailors consider the North Sound as the most picturesque area of the British Virgin Islands. Yesterday’s awards party was obviously not possible so the limbo jump-up at Almond Walk and adjacent beach will be the first competition of the BVI Spring Regatta & Sailing Festival!

Farr 400 leaves the dock for the race up to Bitter End Yacht Club  Credit: Todd vanSickle/BVI Spring Regatta & Sailing Festival

Farr 400 leaves the dock for the race up to Bitter End Yacht Club Credit: Todd vanSickle/BVI Spring Regatta & Sailing Festival

Back at Nanny Cay, crews competing in the ISAF sanctioned Grade 3 match racing event sponsored by GILL arrived throughout the day and completed registration for the two day event. If the wind plays ball, exciting duels are expected between the IC24’s on tight windward leeward courses with expert race commentary by Denise Holmberg. Eight teams will compete on courses close to the shore so spectators can watch the drama unfold from the beach at Nanny Cay.

Agreement to host the America´s Cup 2013 in San Francisco approved

March 28, 2012

The San Francisco Board of Supervisors today approved the agreement to welcome the America’s Cup in San Francisco from September 7 to 22, 2013.

San Francisco Approves America’s Cup Race for September 2013 Credit Gilled Martin RagetACEA

San Francisco Approves America’s Cup Race for September 2013 - Credit: Gilled Martin-Raget/ACEA

One of the most fiercely competitive and sought after trophies in all of sport, the America’s Cup, was first raced in 1851 around the Isle of Wight, 45 years before the modern Olympics. The U.S. yacht America won, giving the international sailing competition its name.

At the first race, Queen Victoria, who was watching at the finish line, asked who was second to America. The famous answer, “Your Majesty, there is no second.”

The 2013 race will be the first time the competition for the “Auld Mug” will be held in San Francisco, a perfect natural sailing arena where more than one million spectators will see the 34th edition of the America’s Cup.

The San Francisco agreement calls for teams to be based at Piers 30/32 and for the America’s Cup Village – the public Race Headquarters – at Piers 27/29.  The pier improvements will be funded by the Port.

“We have worked very hard to bring this historic race to San Francisco and we’re very happy to have finally reached an agreement,” said Stephen Barclay, interim CEO of the America’s Cup. “Now we are focused on making this the most spectacular race in America’s Cup history.”

“We are thrilled that, in addition to the Louis Vuitton Cup and the America’s Cup racing in 2013, that the America’s Cup World Series will also take place in San Francisco in 2012,” said Mayor Edwin M. Lee. “This will add even more visitors, jobs and economic development as part of hosting one of the world’s premier sporting events.”

The inclusion of Piers 30/32 as the “pit row” for the teams in close proximity to the America’s Cup Village at Piers 27/29 will make the event’s footprint more compact and will benefit the teams as well as the general public.  Racing will be visible from the shoreline – only minutes from downtown shopping and hotels, making this the most spectator-friendly event in the Cup’s 162-year history.

The dates for this year’s (2012) racing for the America’s Cup World Series, the global circuit of events leading up to the 2013 America’s Cup regatta in San Francisco, were also confirmed today:
– AC World Series Naples, Italy – April 11-15, 2012
– AC World Series Venice, Italy – May 15-20, 2012
– AC World Series Newport, USA – June 26 – July 1, 2012
– AC World Series San Francisco, USA – August 21-26, 2012
– AC World Series San Francisco, USA – October 4-7, 2012.

Each event will be a combination of practice and championship racing, with additional practice sailing on-site ahead of each event.

Racing for the Louis Vuitton Cup, the America’s Cup Challenger Series, will take place in July and August, 2013. The America’s Cup Match (finals), pitting the winner of the Louis Vuitton Cup against defending champion ORACLE Racing – Team USA, commences Saturday, Sept. 7, 2013 and is a first to win five-race series.

America’s Cup racing in 2012 and 2013 will be televised internationally, and for the first time in more than 20 years it will be broadcast free-to-air in the U.S. by the NBC network.

This unprecedented broadcast coverage is a reflection of the exciting venue, the technologically-advanced yachts, the Emmy-nominated fan-friendly advances in the television production, and the sheer physical and tactical challenge presented to the world’s best sailors by the yachts, format and venue.

Before the end of 2013 the America’s Cup is expected to have generated more than $1 billion in economic benefits for San Francisco, and create several thousand jobs.

Major sponsors include some of the world’s top brands: Louis Vuitton, PUMA, Prada, Emirates Airline, TAG Heuer, and Oracle.

About the 34th America’s Cup, San Francisco 2013
The racing will be held in San Francisco Bay between the iconic Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz, up and down the City front. The Bay – a natural sailing arena – produces spectacular racing conditions with reliably strong winds, putting shoreside spectators at the heart of the action. Teams will race technologically-advanced 72-foot catamarans with 13-story wing-sails that will propel the yachts at upwards to 50 miles per hour.

Leading up to the 2013 America’s Cup, the America’s Cup World Series is a series of events, bringing America’s Cup style racing to top venues around the world. In 2012 the America’s Cup World Series will feature five events: Naples (April 11-15), Venice (May 15-20), Newport, RI (June 26 – July 1), and two in San Francisco (August 21-26 and October 4-7).

The America’s Cup World Series provides the teams and their sailors an opportunity to prepare for the America’s Cup Challenger Series for the Louis Vuitton Cup that will be held in San Francisco during July and August of 2013, and which will determine the sole challenger in the America’s Cup Match (finals) against ORACLE Racing – Team USA, the defending America’s Cup champion. The final Match will be held in San Francisco September 7-22, 2013.

Sailing yacht Georgia to compete in the Audi Hamilton Island Race Week 2012

March 28, 2012

After beating Australia’s best in the Grand Prix Division at Geelong’s Festival of Sails, kiwis Jim Farmer as well as Chris Meads are now strongly concentrated on Australia’s largest keelboat regatta, Audi Hamilton Island Race Week 2012.

SAILING  - Audi Hamilton Island Race week 2011 - Calm and Georgia - Photo Andrea Francolini

SAILING - Audi Hamilton Island Race week 2011 - yachts Calm and Georgia - Photo Andrea Francolini

Farmer, an Auckland-based Queens Counsel and highly successful ocean racing yachtsman, is very much a Race Week enthusiast, something all too evident when he lodged the entry for their yacht, the impressive 52ft sailing yacht Georgia, five months before the start of racing in August.

Georgia yacht was the 25th entry in a fleet that is expected to be near 200 when entries close in early August, and while hers is the first to be lodged for the Grand Prix IRC Division, the Cruising Yacht class is showing the way with 19 nominations at this early stage. The entry list is expected to grow into the 30s this week, a number that is satisfyingly more than at the same time in the lead up to last year’s regatta.

Georgia yacht was so dominant at Geelong that she did not need to start in the final race to claim the Grand Prix title in an event dominated by 52-footers. She won by 12 points from Jason Van Der Slot’s Calm on 21 points and Rob Hanna’s much touted, Shogun V, which was third on 24 points.

Farmer and Mead decided to modify their yacht following a disappointing fifth place overall at last year’s Audi Hamilton Island Race Week. After consulting with designers involved with New Zealand’s 2013 America’s Cup campaign they fitted a deeper and more efficient keel, and headsails made using the very latest technology.

These changes have taken Georgia into a new league when it comes to performance, so much so that she could well be the boat to beat in the Audi IRC Australian Championship, which will be part of Audi Hamilton Island Race Week 2012.

The sailing and party agendas being developed for Audi Hamilton Island Race Week 2012 promise to take what is Australia’s most awarded regatta to an even higher level of satisfaction on all fronts.

Noteworthy sailors present at BVI Spring Regatta & Sailing Festival 2012

March 27, 2012

The BVI Regatta & Sailing Festival is famous for amazing sailing conditions, hot racing as well as a friendly atmosphere which attracts plenty of competitors with impressive sailing backgrounds. Registration for the BVI Spring Regatta & Sailing Festival opened at noon today and a steady stream of important sailors were enjoying a cold drink at the Regatta Beach Bar at Nanny Cay.

Team Trolly Car Credit Louay HabibBVI Spring Regatta & Sailing Festival

Team Trolly Car Credit: Louay Habib/BVI Spring Regatta & Sailing Festival

Team Trolly Car, a MarineMax 413 racing in the Bareboat Class aptly captures the true spirit of the BVI Spring Regatta & Sailing Festival. The team is co-skippered by Peter Stazicker and Bill Petersen: “We have come here all the way from California and our main goal is to have as much fun as possible, but I have to say we do have some excellent sailors on board,” admitted Peter Stazicker. “Bill Petersen is a past Commodore of California Yacht Club and was also the mainsheet trimmer for Stars & Stripes in the victorious 1987 America’s Cup. His son, Willy Petersen has graduated from the University of Hawaii, where he was a prominent member of the sailing team. Of course we want to do well but above all we want to have a good time, that is the reason for coming to the British Virgin Islands.”

Skipper of the First 47.7, Global Yacht Racing/EHO1, Marcus Chollerton-Brown will be racing with a team from the Manhattan Yacht Club: “The crew all work in New York but we are a variety of nationalities: British, American, Dutch, Swedish and French. This will be the first time that we have raced together as a team and we hope to be competitive especially in the Spring Regatta, once we have got to know the boat a little better.”

Marcus Chollerton-Brown, Skipper of Global Yacht RacingEHO1

Marcus Chollerton-Brown, Skipper of Global Yacht Racing/EHO1 Credit: Louay Habib/BVI Spring Regatta & Sailing Festival

Back in Manhattan, Marcus skipper’s the magnificent 12 Metre, America II and skippered Clipper Qingdao in the 2007-08 Round the World Race.

Mike Caldwell, boat captain of El Ocaso was enjoying a cold beer waiting to check through Customs and Immigration: “We had a great sail here from St.Martin although the team actually come from Florida. I’m waiting for the rest of the guys to arrive to unload the boat, so it’s a great opportunity to catch up with some of the other teams. There are so many good friends here and it’s one of the reasons we enjoy this regatta so much. Besides the sailing, it’s a really friendly regatta.”

Lucy Reynolds (Northern Child, Swan 51) and Mike Caldwell (El Ocaso)Credit Louay HabibBVI Spring Regatta & S

Lucy Reynolds (Northern Child, Swan 51) and Mike Caldwell (El Ocaso) Credit: Louay Habib/BVI Spring Regatta & Sailing Festival

Tonight’s opening party hosted by Peg Legs Restaurant should be a lively affair especially with the assistance of regatta sponsor, Mount Gay Rum. The party kicks off at 5:30 pm just as the sun will be dipping down into the Sir Francis Drake Channel.

The first warning signal for the Bitter End Cup Race to Virgin Gorda will sound at 1000am tomorrow, marking the start of racing for the 2012 BVI Spring Regatta & Sailing Festival.

International Rolex Regatta 2012: Nice and Close

March 26, 2012

It came down to the wire on the last day for winners in three of six classes at the International Rolex Regatta, which kicked off on Friday and hosted 68 yachts as well as more than 500 sailors representing the USA, Great Britain, Puerto Rico, Canada, The Netherlands, Russia, Italy, Sweden, Monaco and multiple Caribbean islands.

Fleet sailing last day's Pillsbury Sound courses Photo by Roley Ingrid Abery

Fleet sailing last day's Pillsbury Sound courses - Photo by Rolex/Ingrid Abery

The event, in its 39th year and hosted by St. Thomas Yacht Club in the USVI, is the oldest regatta in Rolex’s portfolio of global sailing events, and is considered the “Crown Jewel” of Caribbean regattas.

Today’s tactically demanding Pillsbury Sound races, with courses that wound through the cays of St. Thomas and St. John, decided winners in one IRC and three CSA classes as well as a Beach Cat class, while one-design IC 24s completed six short-course races in Jersey Bay to determine that class’s victor. The races were sailed in picture-perfect conditions, which included plenty of sunshine and 15-knot breezes, which made the overcast skies and intermittent rain showers that prevailed over the last two days but a distant memory.

Peter Cunningham’s (George Town, CAY) 52-foot PowerPlay took overall victory in IRC, where nine boats were competing, and won a Rolex Oyster Perpetual Submariner Chronometer as a prize for its excellent performance. The team’s main competition was Willem Wester’s (Breskens, Zeeland, NED) Grand Soleil 46 Antilope (steered by Belgian Olympian Philippe Bergmans) and Ashley Wolfe’s (Alberta, Canada) IRC 52 Mayhem, which finished second and third, respectively.

IRC winner POWERPLAY yacht Photo by Rolex Ingrid Abery

IRC winner POWERPLAY yacht - Photo by Rolex/Ingrid Abery

“We were head-to-head with Mayhem the whole regatta, which made it exciting,” said Cunningham, noting that Mayhem’s disqualification in the second race of the series (for a pre-start infraction) and the dismasting of Lord Irvine Laidlaw of Rothiemay’s (MON) IRC 52 Highland Fling XII were unfortunate. “We lost the first race today by one second to Mayhem and Antilope (who corrected out equally and posted 1.5 points each) to finished third. The sailing is so interesting here; you can’t relax even one second or it’s the difference between first and second.”

Volvo Ocean Race veteran Bouwe Bekking (NED), tactician aboard Antilope, was pleased with second, especially since Antilope is a heavier displacement boat than the others, and he conceded that the story might have been different had Mayhem not shown a DSQ in her score line. “They would have had a second in that race, so you can count back and see that they would have done that much better,” said Bekking, “but that’s yacht racing.”

The competition today was unusually close in CSA 1, where Andrea Scarabelli’s (Cole Bay, St. Maarten) Melges 24 Budget Marine/GILL managed to maintain the lead it had established on day one and kept yesterday. It was by a mere half point in final regatta standings, however, that the team prevailed over Magnitude 400, a Farr 400 owned and skippered by Doug Baker (Long Beach, Calif.). The battle of the 40 footers, of which there were four in this class, had been billed as one to watch, but it quickly became clear that the Melges 24 came prepared to win.

The first day, Budget Marine/Gill posted two victories in the “town races” that featured plenty of downwind sailing. “This was good for us,” said the team’s tactician Christopher Marshall, “but the second day had lots of upwind sailing and that’s when it paid off for the bigger boats (Magnitude 400 won both races.). Then today was a mixed bag.”

Yachts SMILE AND WAVE and LAZY DOG battled for second and third in CSA 2, respectively Photo by Rolex Ingrid Abery

Yachts SMILE AND WAVE and LAZY DOG battled for second and third in CSA 2, respectively - Photo by Rolex/Ingrid Abery

The half-point difference in the final scores was a result of Budget Marine/GILL’s third-place finish in today’s first race with the exact same corrected time as a second Farr 400 from California, Blade, so each boat was given 3.5 points as an average for third and fourth places (per the racing rules). “In the first start we were over early, so we had to come back and lost at least 30 seconds,” said Scarabelli, who drove. “Everyone was in a bit of a bad mood after that, because if it had not been for that, we would have probably been in second (for that race). We knew we had to do our best in the next race and maybe it would be impossible to win—that we could lose the Rolex regatta because of a half a point.” The team posted a third in the second race to Magnitude 400’s fifth, and that proved to be the combination that would give Budget Marine/GILL the final say and the coveted Rolex watch as prize.

Also winning by a mere half point today in CSA 2 was Jonathan Lipuscek’s (San Juan, PR) J/105 Dark Star. Lipuscek had gone into today’s races with a half-point advantage on the merit of two bullets posted yesterday, and he posted a 2-3 today to prevail over Jaime Torres’s (also San Juan) Beneteau First 40 Smile and Wave, also winning the a Rolex watch for his performance. Making it a triumvirate of Puerto Rican teams on the podium was Sergio Sagramoso’s (San Juan) J/122 Lazy Dog, in third, also with only a half point separating it from Smile and Wave. The three teams had been locked in battle for the entire regatta.

“We simply tried to minimize errors and do everything with patience,” said Lipuscek at the Rolex Awards party, which was held on the St. Thomas Yacht Club’s beach and featured a giant stage built out over the water. (It had been used on Saturday, as well, for the regatta’s headlining Reggae Concert.) “It’s incredible that we’ve won the watch; I didn’t believe it until now.”

Puerto Rican teams also finished top-three in IC 24s, which sported the largest fleet here with 15 boats. Dominating was Puerto Rico’s Fraito Lugo (Ponce), onboard Orion, who counts this as his ninth time to win a Rolex watch here. He passed the watch on to his foredeck crew Pablo Mendez and said that a full rotation has now been made as far as his crew getting to proudly share in the spoils of victory. “It’s experience in the boat,” said Fraito when asked what his secret to success was. “Pablo has been sailing with me since 2002, and my tactician and trimmer have been with me 18 years. It feels so good to win; we lost this regatta last year, so we came back this year very aggressive.”