Jim Proctor: 20+ Years Herding sailors to BVI Spring Regatta

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Jim Proctor is sailing BVI Spring Regatta this week on a chartered Moorings 45. He’s become famous at BVI Spring Regatta over the years for herding sailors from everywhere around the US and bringing them to Tortola to race. Sometimes these people are complete novices never having been on a boat, nonetheless, Proctor loves to charter as many boats as he has friends to fill them, and these friends love to come back to BVI Spring Regatta.

Proctor got into sailing growing up on the Tennessee River in northeast Alabama. His dad bought him a Sunfish when he was twelve, and he went onto various sailing schools in high school, taking a hiatus when he was in college, before taking on big boats around 2005. At home, he sails regularly, mostly dinghies, around his hometown Birmingham, AL.

“Alabama has a lot of great lakes and sailing clubs all up and down the state – we have a really active sailing club on Logan Martin Lake right outside of Burmingham,” Proctor said. “The biggest fleet is the Flying Scots and we have over 30 – they pretty much race every weekend and it’s a lot of fun.”

Proctor always arrives in the BVI with a big group of friends which he gathers, he laughs, “anywhere I can find them!” The first year he organized friends to sail was in 2005 when they did Fort Lauderdale to Key West, and after that first year, word got around as to how much fun it is and since then, he’s tried to organize for charter as many boats as he can mostly at the BVI Spring Regatta.

“The most we had was in 2019 with six boats and 36 people – we limit it to six people per boat, so everyone has something to do on board, nobody is stuck on the rail for the whole race just staring at their feet,” Proctor smiled. “That makes it fun for everybody. In any given year half the people who come have never been on a sailboat before, so we go out on the lay day prior to the Spring Regatta, give everyone a job and teach them what to do, practice, then go to the Soggy Dollar for painkillers. The first day is usually kind of rough but by the third day people are nailing tacks and having a fun time. It works out well.”

This year Proctor has chartered three boats, all Moorings 45s, and always tries to make sure everyone in the group has the same boat.

“If we’re racing the same boat, nobody can gripe about handicaps and we have a little friendly competition between the groups, although it can get a little intense at times,” he laughed.

Sailing on the Moorings 45 Tantalizer with Proctor this year are his two sons as well as Mark King, also from Birmingham and King’s two sons. This is King’s third time to the BVI sailing with Proctor, although his first Spring Regatta. He claims to be not much of a sailor although he’s cruised with Proctor at least ten times in various places around the world. He’s looking forward to a wonderful week, especially as it is his 65th birthday on Thursday.

“I’m very much an inexperienced crew mate but it should be a great week as I have my two sons coming down as does Jim and they are all friends,” King said. “I’m here just to enjoy the BVI, have a good time and to keep learning more about sailing from Jim – he’s a great, patient and long-suffering captain.”

Crawford King (34), Mark’s son, is a musician and software writer who lives in Asheville, NC. He’s been cruising in the BVI previously with Proctor but never raced.

He said, “I really don’t know what I am doing but today there are only three of us on board to do Round Tortola, so the odds are not in our favor! I’m just going to do what Jim tells me to do. I like being on the water, this trip will determine if I become more of a sailor!”