Taking place in the azure waters of the magical Caribbean yacht charter destination – the British Virgin Islands, the first day of this year’s Loro Piana Caribbean Superyacht Regatta and Rendezvous went with a bang as perfect conditions greeted both the fleet of 20 sailing superyachts as well as the gaggle of seven motor yachts, participating in this popular race. The 2013 event is organised by Boat International Media and Yacht Club Costa Smeralda.
A few high clouds that drifted overhead earlier in the morning soon gave way to blue skies and sun, with a southeasterly breeze that held fairly consistently around 14 knots. ‘Today should be easy [for the race committee],’ said Principle Race Officer Peter Craig, surveying the bay and the yachts moored at the YCCS Marina. ‘We have breeze, so around the island we go.’
With the yachts, which range from the 23.5m Wild Horses to the mighty 62m mega yacht Athos, powering across the start line in a staggered start of two minute intervals, it was the 54m Perini Navi charter yacht Parsifal III that led the fleet up the first beat to a laid mark one mile to windward of the start line.
After the windward mark, the course took the fleet on a fetch inside the Dog Islands and down to Ginger Island. The Division B boats then headed inside Ginger Island, past Round Rock, for the long leg along the south side of Virgin Gorda, before turning downwind at the northeast corner and heading for the finish just past Necker Island.
As the yachts approached Round Rock, Athos had caught up with Parsifal III and snuck past on the inside, with the Oyster 100 yacht Sarafin also taking a tight line up the inside. At the turning point just three minutes separated the first five yachts, with 32m Carl Linne and 23.5m Wild Horses in of pursuit of the leading pack.
For the Division A boats – those with a more cruiser-racer bent – it was the Southern Wind 100 yacht Cape Arrow that passed the southern point of Ginger Island first, hotly pursued by the Fitzroy Yachts-built 49.7m superyacht Zefira just 40 seconds behind. Four minutes later and the 45m charter yacht Salperton, helmed by multi Olympic gold medallist Shirley Robertson, blasted around with the 34m luxury yacht Unfurled for company. This surge by Salperton would set up a nice little battle for honours over Zefira further up the course.
Luxury yacht Salperton managed to squeeze by Zefira at the north-eastern corner of Virgin Gorda, a point which offered the opportunity for the fleet to hoist kites for a final blast home. Sneaking up the inside and taking advantage of a slow hoist on Zefira, Salperton went on to claim victory in Division A, ahead of Zefira in second and Cape Arrow in third.
In Division B, charter yacht Parsifal III managed to cling on to her early advantage, taking victory over Athos and Sarafin.
‘It doesn’t get better than this,’ beamed Shirley Robertson back on the YCCS dock after racing. ‘A great boat, great wind and a perfect course for us today – and we sailed well. Rounding Ginger Island was quite hard – it’s very high and there’s no wind underneath so you quickly catch up with the boats in front, many of which were parked for ages. Our winning manoeuvre with Zefira came at the hoist – we got inside them and made our move.’
For superyacht Parsifal III the joy of taking Division B victory was clear, as the owners, guests and crew celebrated on the sundeck after mooring up. ‘We had a good day today,’ said her tactician, Dirk Johnson. ‘We made a good lay to the first mark and we were out in front. That’s the key – once in front you have to stay there.’
There was much less adrenalin pumping on the motor yachts, who went out to watch the fleet go through sail hoisting manoeuvres and run the start line before setting off for lunch on Peter Island, courtesy of the BVI Tourist Board.
For Friday the initial forecasts suggested slightly lighter winds for the racing, but the only thing that was on the minds of owners and guests as the sun set – apart from the cocktails of course – was the thought of enjoying the exclusive Loro Piana owners’ dinner on the YCCS terrace overlooking Gorda Sound.