At BVI Spring Regatta, it’s always a pleasure to host fast and well-crewed boats and the event certainly appreciates the commitment it takes to get boats and crews to the BVI. Fortunately, sailors of all experience levels love sailing and racing in the BVI, so when pro sailor and Tortola-raised Alec Anderson got the call to join the crew for Spring Regatta on M2, the San Francisco-based Cape 31, his response required no thought.
“I got the call, said yes, I’d do it, then got off the phone with my wife looking at me…we usually discuss these events before I commit, but an opportunity to race in the BVI, my home turf?” Anderson laughed. “Any opportunity I get to race here I wouldn’t miss for anything. I’m staying with my parents just up there (pointed to the hills behind the marina). Nanny Cay is ground zero and where I grew up, everything about my childhood is right here.”
Anderson recalls that windsurfing was really his first watersport, riding on the front of his dad’s board back and forth in front of Nanny Cay. By the time he was seven, Alec was participating in the Club summer sailing programme starting from the beach in Road Harbour, chasing the ferries and playing in the lagoon. He went on to sail Optis, switched to the Laser Radial, and started out on an Olympic campaign in the 49’er. Fast forward, he now lives in Miami pro sailing.
“I’m super lucky and it all started in the BVI,” he noted. “It’s a small place, yet my friends from here and I have all gone onto careers in the marine world.”
Tony Rey, a pro sailor from Newport, RI, USA is also on board M2 this week. He grew up in Larchmont, NY, the “light air capital of the east coast” he joked, and he’s been racing boats for as long as he can remember.
“It’s what I’ve always done, I’ve been a pro sailor since the late 90s, and was lucky to get into it right when there was an opportunity to even be a pro sailor,” Rey explained. “My mentors were all the guys like Tom Widden, Mike Topas, and Ken Read. It’s fun now to be a Doyle guy. I’m still great friends with those guys but up against them on the big boats that I work on.”
While Anderson primarily races small fast one design boats, Rey is often racing bigger boats.
“Every season is different and what keeps me excited about this is the variety,” he said. “I just did the St Barths Bucket Regatta on a 150’ schooner, Columbia. I put a charter together for the team which was very successful, it was an awesome week, and I learned a lot about schooners,” Rey smiled. “Then the 31’er last week in St Thomas and now here, then the Etchells Worlds in Miami in a few weeks. This summer I’ll be racing Zemphira, a 76’ modern classic in the Maine and Nantucket circuit.”
Racing with each other this week on the Cape 31, in just a few weeks Rey and Anderson will race against each other in the Etchells Worlds in Miami.
“Funny enough, the Cape 31 is a pretty big boat for me,” Anderson said. “For the past five-six years I’ve been racing boats like the J/70, the small Melges, Etchells, so at 31’, M2 is a big boat for me.”
It seems to be that there are an increasing number of smaller fast, especially one design boats, now being sailed in many places, and Rey agrees.
“Pro sailors do sail on big boats like TP52s, but here’s the cool thing. When I started out, I’d get on board these bigger boats and the owner quite often wouldn’t touch anything, sometimes he wasn’t even on the boat, which would be unfathomable for a guy like Alec because he comes from a different generation. What’s neat today is that you’ve got guys with all the resources in the world, and they love racing Etchells, J/70s, Cape 31s, because you get so much value for the sailing. It’s phenomenal. You can race these boats with fewer people, you’re close to the water, it’s wet, you’re sore, you’re bruised, it’s great, it’s hands-on sailing! While we love for these guys to build big boats and buy lots of big sails, in fact, it’s becoming hard to talk them out of this kind of racing!”
M2 are looking forward to taking on the Cape 31 feisty Flying Jenny, who earlier in the week won the Round Tortola Race for the Nanny Cay Cup, winning in division and overall on corrected time.
“We’ll absolutely have good competition with them but we’re going to focus on our own boat, we’re a new team altogether, we’re going to focus entirely on getting the crew work dialed in,” Anderson said. “It looks like good breeze so that’s going to be important.”
Helming M2 this week is Steve Rowland, from Connecticut, USA, who recently took first in class and an overall win at St Barth’s on his 109’ pilothouse sloop Nakupenda.
“Steve’s coming in on a bit of a high, but he’s not helmed a boat with a tiller, at least not since he was a kid, so we’ll get some practice today,” Rey noted. “We’re going to have a great week racing on M2, the racing here is spectacular, and the wind machine is on! The plan with Flying Jenny is to follow right behind them until right at the finish, which is when they give the prizes out, not at the start. If we do get ahead early, no problem, they give the prizes at the finish. Let’s go get ‘em!” – Michelle Slade