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30 March 2005, 09:37 am
Sailing Festival Kicks Off Seven Days Of Fun
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2005 BVI Spring Regatta & Sailing Festival
Tortola, British Virgin Islands

Day one of the BVI Sailing Festival - the three-day, low-pressure warm up for the BVI Spring Regatta to take place this weekend (April 1-3) - saw 34 boats in four classes cross the line off Nanny Cay Marina as they headed up to the North Sound in Virgin Gorda racing for the Bitter End Cup.
Winds of 12-14 knots greeted sailors and with the wind blowing from an unusual south-easterly direction the first mark at The Baths was an easy beat.

In the five-boat racing class, Bill ALCOTT's Andrews 68 Equation, the scratch boat, developed an early lead off the start and earned line hours with an elapsed time of 2 hours, 35 minutes and 51 seconds. After the windless conditions last year in which only Equation and Roy E. DISNEY's MaxZ86, Pyewacket, finished in class, Alcott crushed his time of four hours and three minutes.

However, Mick SCHLENS, back in the BVI for the fourth time and sailing Cosmic Warlord (Express 37), chartered from the Bitter End Yacht Club for the second year, won the race on corrected time. He was followed by Peter NEWLANDS' Beneteau First 40.7. Equation was third after the number crunching.

Tom MULLEN and his J/120 was first in the Cruiser division which saw twelve boats racing. Grand Soleil 43 Aix d'or was second and Big Ben, a Beneteau 50, was third.

Justin BARTON's Justice, recently a class winner in St Maarten's Heineken Regatta, topped Bareboat A with a solid 10 minute lead on corrected time. Dot Com sailed by Dunbar, last year's Bareboat A winner and recipient of The Moorings Sailing Festival Cup as the best performing bareboat in the Sailing Festival, was second. Spencer WILKINSON was third on Best Friends.

After leaving Nanny Cay Marina, the presenting sponsor and host marina for the 34th annual BVI Spring Regatta, the course took participants to a mark off The Baths - one of the British Virgin Islands' most picturesque natural wonders - and then on to the North Sound leaving a group of islands known as 'the Dogs' together with Mosquito Island and Mosquito Rock to starboard and entering the North Sound via a channel through Colquhoun Reef. The finish line was off the Bitter End Yacht Club.

Wednesday ( March 30) is LayDay Bitter End-style with as much - or as little - as people want to do.

The second annual Nations' Challenge Cup in which teams take part on a 'first come first served basis' to represent their country takes place tomorrow. The event will be sailed in the Bitter End Yacht Club's fleet of Hunter 216s. With two flights, the 'B' teams will race in the morning, and the 'A' teams will race in the afternoon. Four races will be sailed in each flight with the boats swapped after each race. Team USA (Los Angeles) which comprised of Pyewacket crew headed by Ben MITCHELL won last year's inaugural event.

An Around Virgin Gorda Race is also planned. The course is approximately 24 miles, and will provide for some stunning spinnaker runs down the backside of the island.

The expanded seven-day format billed as 'seven days of fun with two great events in one' has turned the traditional three days of racing action into a week-long sailing vacation that takes participants throughout the British Virgin Islands. The inaugural Sailing Festival introduced in 2003 saw 38 boats compete.

The three-day BVI Spring Regatta takes place on the south side of Tortola in the Sir Francis Drake Channel on three different courses. The largest ever BVI Spring Regatta concluded in 2003 with 138 boats.

For full details on the 2005 BVI Spring Regatta & Sailing Festival including daily news, photos and results, visit the official web site via the link below.

Alastair Abrehart (As Amended by ISAF)
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