Making BVI Whoopie on Whoop Whoop

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Racing this week in the Sport Multihull division are six boats, all local and crewed by locals who know the BVI waters like nobody else. They have been sailing with and against each other for years. To say this fleet is highly competitive, well…you figure that out.

Henry Leonnig, Gerard Kraakman, and Hugh Pritchard Jones own Whoop Whoop, the “older” guys on the boat who have each lived on Tortola for more than twenty years. Sailing with them this week is Samuel Allen, BVI born and bred, and the nipper on the boat. Pritchard Jones grew up sailing as a kid in North Wales in the Irish Sea, Leonnig started sailing in his mid-teens in  Annapolis, MD and went straight into racing, Kraakman raced as a kid in Holland…in cold water!

Leonnig, Kraakman, and Pritchard Jones raced together many years ago starting back in the IC24 days, Leonnig noted. He then bought a Melges 24 which they sailed for a decade before Hurricane Irma hit.

“My Melges was fine, but there was no more competition,” Leonnig said. “At the time Gerard started talking about trimarans being all the thing, and soon everyone in the BVI was buying trimarans. A friend was selling his, we bought it and we’ve been racing Whoop Whoop ever since.”

Prior to buying Whoop Whoop, Leonnig, Kraakman, and Pritchard Jones had done a lot of multihull racing on Triple Jack, the Kelsall 47 owned by locals Steve Davies and Richard Wooldridge.

“We love fast boats, I think that’s the defining thing,” continued Leonnig. “It’s not a matter of multis vs monos, we just like fast boats!”

Kraakman added, “It’s also about competition, having a fleet and the camaraderie of similar boats racing against each other. It’s not about one boat that goes fast, it’s about having six or seven boats of the same class on the start line and that’s why we got into multihulls here. It’s important to have that class, and here we have friends to race against in this class.”

Whoop Whoop competes in all the local club races organized by the West End Yacht Club and the Royal BVI Yacht Club – the season starts in the fall and ends right before hurricane season with the last race held in July.

Whoop Whoop loves 15-18, high teens, pushing low 20s is a lot of fun, noted Leonnig. Looking at the light air forecast for day one of the regatta, he said:

“We’re lucky that we’re on a fast boat so the boat will move! Our strategy will be very technical, finding where the breeze is coming from, and where the pressure is on the racecourse. We’re looking at two windward leewards today so we’ll be working on kinetics – the balance of the boat and distribution of weight will be important. Sail trim is always key, we’ll be powering up the sails as much as possible to power up the boat so that it transfers into good boat speed, as well as working for position on our competitors. That will be racing today.”

He added, “Our rating is pretty tough because we’re a light boat, so we owe everyone time. There are two other Corsair 27s just like Whoop Whoop in terms of build and model, but the weights of the boats are different. But, we’ll be mostly looking to sail fast and have fun either way!”