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3 April 2004, 08:46 am
Beautiful Weather Begins Caribbean Regatta
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BVI Spring Regatta

Back to back racing, roasting Caribbean sunshine and wind touching 12 knots at times launched day one of the 33rd BVI Spring Regatta yesterday.
Six races were held for the beach cats, six for the IC-24s, two for theboats on the Norman Race area and four for each class on the Cooper Race area courses, giving a total of 34 races for the 132 boats competing.

Boats on the windward-leeward Cooper Area race course potentially had six course permutations to contend with which could include two possible windward marks, a windward finish line, a leeward finish line and a gate.

In the highly competitive sport boat type class C, BVI Melges 24 MistressQuickly leads taking three firsts and a tie for third. USVI boats Magnificent 7 and Broken Drum are second and third respectively.

Mistress Quickly's owner Guy ELRIDGE has relinquished the helm to old University friends Barry and Sue PARKIN, current Flying Fifteen world champions with five Olympic campaigns between them. "We sailed last weekend [at the Rolex Regatta] and got to grips with all the crew handling so we came out today and were right on the money," said Barry. "All the boat handling was perfect and I felt a bit more relaxed in the boat. I hadn¹t sailed for six months before last weekend. We basically started well in the first three races, and sailed pretty solidly upwind in phase with the shifts working towards the right hand side most of the time which was where there was more pressure and didn't make any mistakes - which is how you win races."

Although an accomplished small keelboat sailor (Etchells, Dragons, Solings) Barry hasn't sailed a Melges for 10 years. And how does this husband and wife team divide their roles? "We both do tactics and shout at each other a lot. We don't necessarily agree on much. I'm a good starter and Sue's a good trimmer." Guy's job is to keep between them. Bryshaun SCATLIFFE, a 14-year old graduate of the Royal BVI Yacht Club sailing progamme trims the jib upwind.

In the big boat class A Tom HILL'S Titan XII with Peter HOLMBERG calling the shots, and occasionally seen at the wheel, took the day leaving Roy E. DISNEY¹s crew on Pyewacket in second place with Chippewa (2,3,4,3) third.

Class C sees Roger STURGEON¹s Reichel-Pugh Rosebud at the top of the tree with Vim second and Aera third. Storm, Bandit and Flirt are tied for fourth place. "We just weren't in synch today," said Trinidadian Chris AVEY who is working the bow on Storm. Paul AMON of Soca Sailboats who built this boat and the infamous Henderson 35 Crash Test Dummies noted that tactics in the BVI are as much about spotting the pressure-differential as the shifts; in today's conditions there can be five knot differences and following the lifting shifts is not necessarily always the right thing to do.

Swan 44 Crescendo finished the day leading Class E with two first and two seconds with Lazy Dog only one point behind. Pipe Dream, a BVI racer cruiser, finds itself in the unusual and uncomfortable position of fourth place in Class F with Antiguan Six Meter Trouble leading with three firsts and a fourth. Boomerang is second and Dehlerious is third.

Racing on the Norman Area course were the Performance Cruising, Jib and Main, Bareboat A and B, and Multihull classes. David BRENNEN, PRO on this course for the second year, heard last year's request for more racing and responded by setting up courses conducive to squeezing more than one race a day in for all classes.

Such is the geological/topographical nature of the BVI, that many of the marks from previous regattas have been replaced this year by islands on the Norman Race area previously known as the non-spinnaker course. Spinnakers are now permitted on this course and allow those that don't want to race back to back windward-leeward courses the chance fly a chute perhaps with less practiced or short-handed crew.

This morning's race saw them racing a triangle course clockwise around the L-shaped Peter Island taking Dead Chest island of "yo ho ho and a bottle of rum" fame to starboard, Carrot Rock on the southern tip of Peter to starboard, around the west end of the islands and back to the start/finish boat.

The second race took the fleet from the start off the west end of Peter Island around Flannagan, north to a mark near Tortola's Pockwood Pond, south east to Peter Island's Great Harbour and then to the finish. Dave's comment in the middle of the second race about the change in format was, "The boats seem to be loving this."

Full results and photos are available on the official BVI Spring Regatta & Sailing Festival web site at the address below.
Alastair Abrehart (As Amended By ISAF News Editor)
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