BVI Spring Regatta Moves Into Full Swing

Thad Lettsome (left side of baton); Glenford Gordon (holding baton) and local optimist sailors with the Queen’s Baton Credit: Todd vanSickle/BVI Spring Regatta

The 2014 BVI Spring Regatta and Sailing Festival’s Regatta Village at Nanny Cay opened with Maritime Heritage Day and a full schedule of activities. The Queen’s Baton Relay made an official stop in the Regatta Village to begin the celebration. International food, drinks and fun were served late into the night after the Mount Gay Welcome Party kicked off the official BVI Spring Regatta.

The Queen’s Baton arrived in Tortola mid-day from Jost Van Dyke. Thad Lettsome, a 12-year-old local Optimist sailor and member of the Royal BVI Yacht Club, was the first to receive the Baton on the island of Tortola. He carried it onboard the 102-year-old Tortola Sloop Intrepid, sailing around Nanny Cay before handing it to Glenford Gordon, a local sailing silver medalist from the 2011 Athens Special Olympics World Games.

“It felt special,” said Lettsome, who is training for the Optimist South American Championship next month. “It was a surprise when they told me I was going to carry it – I didn’t expect to do this. I’ve never done anything like this before.”

The Glasgow 2014 Queen’s Baton Relay is currently in the middle of a 190,000 km, 288-day journey, visiting countries in Asia, Oceania, Africa, the Americas, Caribbean and Europe en route to the XX Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, Scotland beginning on 23 July 2014.

Thad Lettsome carries the Queen’s Baton onboard Intrepid – Credit: Todd vanSickle/BVI Spring Regatta

Earlier in the day, the Tortola Sloop Spring Challenge sponsored by VP Bank, featured racing by three, locally built yachts, including Intrepid, constructed in 1912. Also racing were Youth Instructor and Sea Moon. Winners of the race will be announced on Sunday during the regatta awards ceremony.

The Mount Gay Welcome Party was in full swing by sundown, and Nichole Raab’s aerial performance dazzled the crowd. Raab, who is also racing with Team WAVE, hung suspended from a crane and by dock lines above the beach at Nanny Cay. After, the band Final Faze took the stage.

Nichole Raab performs in the Regatta Village – Credit: Todd vanSickle/BVI Spring Regatta

BVI Spring Regatta Underway
The three day BVI Spring Regatta gets underway today with a fleet of international and local yachts racing on three courses. The One Design Course will feature a windward-leeward route for the Melges 32 and IC 24 classes. The racing boats and performance cruisers will be on the SOL Course, beginning with a pair of windward-leeward races, followed by a third race planned around the islands. Most of the classes racing the Norman Course for cruising yachts will race twice on Friday, with the course staged near Peter, Norman and Flannagan Islands. The Norman course will include the jib & main, bareboat and multihull yachts.

“We think the wind is going to be up in the low 20s and we expect just to have a good time,” said Matt Brooks, owner of the wooden yawl and Transpac winner, Dorade. “You never know how things will go in sailboat racing. We’ll just try to do our best, have some fun and see what happens. We’re looking forward very much to participating in the regatta.”

Tonnerre de Breskens 3 (Ker 46) will be back on the race course after winning the Nanny Cay Cup on Tuesday. Joining Peter Vroon’s yacht in the Racing 1 fleet is the RP 52, Highland Fling XII; two British yachts – Bella of London (Grand Soliel 50) and Fenix (Swan 60) – along with the Russian crew onboard Parma, the Dufour 45E Performance yacht.

On the One Design course, three Melges 32s from Puerto Rico will be racing – Lazy Dog, Smile and Wave, and SOCA – along with Kick ’em Jenny 2 from St. Maarten. The six-boat, IC 24 fleet features two local yachts – INTAC and Tortola Express.