The non-spinnaker and spinnaker classes started in Sir Francis Drake Channel off Nanny Cay and then headed anti-clockwise around Tortola taking a navigation mark off Beef Island Bluff, Scrub Island, Great Camanoe, Guana Island, Steele Point in West End, to port. The finish was in Soper's Hole, West End, off the Jolly Roger Restaurant.
After the initial beat up the Sir Francis Drake Channel, it was all down hill once the fleet rounded Great Camanoe and ideal conditions for the light Melges 24.
'Excellent day, perfect weather,' said Guy ELDRIDGE, owner and skipper of Mistress Quickly. 'Wind being from the north east really helped us because we were able to use light air, light winds all the way up on the beat. On run there was just enough breeze for us to surf. We had to work it, pump it the whole way down and had to switch through three different trimmers to keep them going. We managed to survive the light air at Steele Point and that was that. We made it round.'
The day started briskly with winds reaching 20 knots but diminished as the day wore on. While local knowledge generally dictates that you hug the south coast of Tortola as you head upwind, some boats, particularly those that were sailing short-handed, opted to head further out and minimize the tacking.
Triple Jack, the trimaran Transat veteran, took line honours with a time of three hours, fifty-two minutes and 52 seconds (3.52.52). She was first to experience the aptly named Soper's Hole where the wind disappeared, shifted wildly and caused no end of headaches for Triple Jack and subsequent yachts attempting to finish.
Mistress Quickly, Olson 30 Willy-T and J/33 Boomerang tussled their way around the course only to enter Soper's Hole where tactics gave way to a lottery as they attempted to reach the finish. Mistress Quickly finally crossed the line four hours, twenty-six minutes and 21 seconds later (4.26.21) - far enough ahead to beat Willy-T by over six minutes on corrected time.
Pipe Dream won the Racer-Cruiser class. Cacafuego topped the Cruising class while Tikitas, despite crossing the start line thirty-five minutes late, was second.
Traditional Island Sloop Moonbeam skippered by the governor of the British Virgin Islands, His Excellency Tom 'the sailing governor' Macan, joined the fray on a shortened course but did not complete the race. An honourable mention went to Angel Ayala and his Sun Bum II crew who came from Puerto Rico for the race.
The prize giving was held at Pusser's Landing, Soper's Hole, where Pusser's Rum ships decanters, flagons and hip flasks were awarded. Guy Eldridge was presented with the Pusser's Round Tortola Race perpetual trophy.
Pusser's Rum, the Original Navy Rum, has sponsored the Round Tortola race since 1989. 'The Round Tortola Race is a sailor's race and Pusser's Rum is a sailor's rum so we're very pleased to continue to support this great event. No one is more deserving of a tot of Pusser's Rum than those competing in this race,' said Charles TOBIAS, owner of Pusser's Ltd.
For more than 300 years, from the earliest days of wooden ships and iron men, sailors of Great Britain's Royal Navy were issued a daily ration-or 'tot'-of rum by the ship's 'Purser' (corrupted by the sailors to Pusser's).
On July 31st, 1970, the Admiralty Board abolished the daily issue of Pusser's Rum. In 1979, entrepreneur Charles Tobias resurrected the Pusser's Rum tradition. He obtained the rights and all the blending information from the Admiralty and formed Pusser's Ltd. on Tortola in the British Virgin Islands. He began bottling and selling Pusser's Rum to the public for the first time in 1980. Prior to then, it was restricted to the Royal Navy.
Pusser's Round Tortola Race - Final Results (corrected times):
1 Mistress Quickly, Guy Eldridge (3.52.15)
2 Willy-T, Kevin Rowlette (3.59.02)
3 Boomerang, Pat Nolan (4.01.13)
1 Pipe Dream, Peter Haycraft (3.56.11)
2 Dehlerious, Bungie Flynn (4.04.51)
3 Aquilo, Mike Williams (4.15.20)
1 Cacafuego, Arjan Stoof (4.36.06)
2 Tikitas, James Bridgewater (4.46.39)
3 Alcestis, Craig Chomiak (5.12.23)