TORTOLA, BVI -- New activities for the BVI Spring Regatta (BVISR) and Sailing Festival were outlined at a press conference hosted by the Event Committee at Nanny Cay. The occasion included the culturally and historically important presentation of Intrepid, a Tortola sloop that was donated to the British Virgin Islands Maritime Museum by the BVISR in association with VP Bank.
The new Sailing Festival, which takes place in the three days prior to the regatta, will be based out of Nanny Cay Resort and Marina on Tortola. Nanny Cay is the presenting sponsor for the BVISR and Sailing Festival and host venue for the regatta.
"We started the Sailing Festival over a decade ago to fill the few days between the Rolex Regatta in St Thomas and the BVI Spring Regatta," said Judy Petz, director, BVISR and Sailing Festival. "It has now become the fourth largest regatta in the Caribbean. This year we decided to give the visitors new waters to sail and let them have a chance to see more of Tortola, and the opportunity to bring their friends and family to enjoy Nature's Little Secret at leisure before the three days of regatta racing."
This year's activities include a race around Tortola for the Nanny Cay Cup, and the first annual Caribbean Insurers Island Invitational race to Pirates on Norman Island, which will culminate in SUP racing and beach games for event participants, visitors, and the general public. A 'Wind, Water, and Wander' day on Tortola offers visitors a choice of land- and water- based activities.
Traditional Tortola sloop racing
Showcasing the history and culture of the BVI as part of the BVISR and Sailing Festival, the event organisers are incorporating an exhibition and sailing race of the four Tortola sloops. These traditional boats encapsulate the sailing history and maritime heritage of the BVI. The 22-foot, 100-year-old Intrepid will be in the fleet. Intrepid was built in Tortola in the 1920s and has been away from local shores for 82 years. The BVISR and Sailing Festival organisers, along with VP Bank were instrumental in returning Intrepid to her place of birth.
"On behalf of the people of the Virgin Islands, I am very pleased to welcome home Intrepid, one of the few remaining Virgin Island sloops," said Myron Walwyn, minister for education and culture. "The build and design of this boat tells the story of people who had no choice but to become ingenuous boat builders. In this vessel we see the hard work of our forefathers. I anticipate that this boat will be used to further share the story of our people to our youth, those that come to live among us and also to our visitors."
Walwyn provided a background on the times and importance of the sloops in the BVI's history and acknowledged the significance of the donation to the education of the BVI's young people to appreciate their heritage and legacy.
Governor Boyd McCleary, in his remarks on the return of Intrepid to the BVI, spoke of his sailing experiences on a Tortola sloop and shared some of his knowledge of the history of the sloops. He further expressed his support of the BVI Spring Regatta and Sailing Festival.
VP Bank is also underwriting a book by Professor Brooks about boat building in Tortola, tied in its support by offering to fund the purchase of Intrepid as a donation to the maritime museum.
Sjoerd Koster, head of banking at VP Bank said: "We strongly believe that it is our role, rooted in the BVI as one of the largest banks in the Territory, to facilitate the growth of the economy through our financing activities, trade through our wealth management activities and the BVI culture through our corporate sponsorship and donations to benefit the BVI society in the broadest sense."
The BVI Spring Regatta and Sailing Festival is held in partnership with the Royal BVI Yacht Club and the BVI Chamber of Commerce and Hotel Association (BVICCHA) and this year takes place March 25 - 31.