Caribbean Regatta season overcomes adversity
BY ADMIN • APRIL 27, 2018 • OLDER, RACING, REGATTAS • COMMENTS OFF • 238
Despite the devastating hurricanes of 2017, this year’s Caribbean regatta season has gone ahead with little disruption, much to the relief of the communities involved. In some cases, overall numbers have been down, but long-term sailing enthusiasts who recognise the importance of re-establishing the tourist industry in the affected islands have given enthusiastic support to their favourite events. Many of these sailors travelled from across the world in the knowledge that the people and communities that have worked hard in the past to produce hugely enjoyable and rewarding regattas are now themselves in need of help and a boost to get business started again.
On one of the worst affected islands, the St Maarten Heineken Regatta took place at the end of March. Despite the devastation wreaked on the island, the event was one of the first to commit to running this year, a move that created a deadline by which to get things done, and even then, a change of venue was needed. The event attracted an impressive 100 yachts.
The new docks at Nanny Cay Marina were abuzz for the BVI Spring Regatta © Alastair Abrehart
“This regatta is massive for the island of St. Maarten, and it shows that the yachting world is leading the recovery by holding these events,” said race director Paul Miller. “One hundred boats bring in close to 4,000 people, and that’s 2,000 hotel rooms, 16,000 dinners. It all adds up and is a huge boom to the island’s economy.”
Even though the weather during the event was atypical, with unusually light westerly winds and challenging swells, there was still great racing, followed as always by a fantastic après sail scene. “On Sunday, I realized that we hadn’t run a great regatta by overcoming adversity; we had simply run a great regatta. It’s not a matter that we did it despite Irma; we just did it,” Miller added.
This regatta was followed by two further iconic events on islands that were equally badly devastated by the hurricanes. Barth’s Bucket again attracted a stunning selection of the world’s largest, and most competitive, sailing superyachts to St Bartholomew.
Competitive racing in the Bareboat class at the start of the Round Tortola Race © Alastair Abrehart
Well before the approach of Easter, it was clear that Nanny Cay Marina on the main British Virgin Island of Tortola was going to achieve what at one stage must have appeared impossible to any sane onlooker. Despite the devastation in the marina, which included scores of sunken yachts, plus havoc wreaked by airborne inverted large cruising catamarans, the facility restored enough infrastructure to host almost 70 yachts competing in the BVI Spring Regatta and Sailing Festival.
“We’re incredibly grateful to all the volunteers and people who have made this week possible,” says Race Director Judy Petz. “Nothing has changed on the water – we still have exquisite turquoise waters and beautiful white sandy beaches.”