BVI 2019 sailing festival and spring regatta: Mixing up the racing challenge

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Greg Slyngstad's Bieker 53 catamaran will have well-known US sailor and Olympian, Jonathan McKee calling tactics for the BVI Spring Regatta © Tim Wright/Photoaction.com

TORTOLA, British Virgin Islands — GunBoat 62 Chim Chim (USA) and owner John Gallagher, fresh off winning the Multihull division at the RORC Caribbean 600 are cruising in the British Virgin Island (BVI) enjoying time with his wife Carol between regattas.

Chim Chim has sailed mainly long-distance races including two Transpac, Gallagher explained. He’s looking forward to mixing up the racing challenge at the 2019 BVI Spring Regatta.

“It will be a real challenge for us racing on shorter courses at BVI Spring Regatta than what we are used to. In the BVI, we’ll be looking to make clean sail changes and clean takedowns. You have to execute in the shorter races; you can be quick but lose it all in the corners,” Gallagher said. “BVI Spring Regatta will be a big change in racing style for us.”

From San Diego, Gallagher and Carol decided that a season in the Caribbean would be an excellent time to cruise off the beaten path in their boat and not be tied down to a charter. They also couldn’t resist the opportunity to race alongside similar vessels.

“One of the reasons we brought Chim Chim here was to see how we would match up with “like” boats, catamaran racer-cruisers, as there are not that many on the west coast,” Gallagher said. “Eight or nine boats in this class at the British Virgin Islands Spring Regatta (BVISR) will be huge for us. We’re excited!”

From Seattle, Washington, US sailor and Olympian, Jonathan McKee, has been with Fujin as tactician since the boat’s inception, completing several race seasons in the Caribbean and loves racing.

“For me, it’s a very cool part of the world and a great place to race sailboats. There’s a particular poignancy now after the hurricanes to see these communities recover and to be an active part of that recovery, spending our dollars.

“I know for our owner Greg Slyngstad, that is an important aspect of BVISR. He also loves sailing in the BVI, and he wants to invest in the recovery of these places. It’s part of the reason we’ll be there,” McKee said.

Bob Phillips, race chairman, said: “We’re thrilled to see a growing Offshore Multihull fleet leveraging Spring Regatta as an opportunity to line up against a significant number of similar boats, while for some of this fleet the BVI Spring Regatta is its main Caribbean event. We’re hoping that the GunBoat Coco de Mer also makes it. We’d love for her to join this strong fleet of great boats and fun owners.”

The Sport Multihull division had doubled since last year when just three trimarans raced in the division. Eddie Brockbank, a BVI local from Tortola, won the Multihull class on his Corsair Spring 750 Lucky seven, at the 47, BVI Spring Regatta in 2018.

“The racing is always fantastic in the BVI, but this year the competition will be so much more exciting in our fleet with five Corsairs on the start,” Brockbank said. “Our local conditions are perfect for these super-fast multihulls.”

Boats that are new to the fleet this year include Maytrix, a Corsair Spring 760 owned by Richard May (BVI), Islands Hops, a Corsair F 31 held by Mark Sanders (BVI) Whoop Whoop! – a Corsair F 27 and Irma Survivor, which owner Kevin Rowlette (BVI) has been fixing up.

Veteran Spring Regatta competitor Airgasm, the Corsair Spring 760R owned by Barney Crook (BVI) and Piglet, a 23′ Newick trimaran owned by Joseph San Martin (St Croix) and long-time fan of Spring Regatta will round out the Sport Multihull division.

With just a few weeks to go before the 48th annual BVI Sailing Festival and Spring Regatta, the entry list is now at 80 boats, with an anticipated final count of at least 90.

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