Scrub Island Invitational: A Perfect Cocktail of Racing and Relaxing

Today’s winners in the Scrub Island Invitational included Terry McLaughlin sailing on Sul Vento, a Sunsail 41 in the bareboat division. Racing for the first time at BVI Spring Regatta with Steve Denure, his J105 boat partner in Toronto, Canada, McLaughlin’s successfully finding his way around racing a charter boat.

“Today was good although the boats and sails are challenging compared to what I am used to, like the J105 or an IC37 with 3DL black jibs and such,” McLaughlin smiled. “But we’re figuring it out and yesterday we had a second place to the Sunsail 42 in a close race and today we managed to beat them. We’re trying to tweak the boat to make it go faster. I’m very impressed with the Scrub Island resort and I sort of enjoyed the length of today’s race compared to yesterday’s race, especially when you are steering all the time!”

The Elan 450 Emily of Cowes, skippered by Katy Rota, took first in cruising/performance cruising. Emily of Cowes is a familiar sight on the Caribbean winter racing circuit, with their crew often finding themselves on the podium.

“We’ve done this race twice now and for us there’s never a chance to use a kite, so we decided to drop our kite rating just for this race, which obviously worked in our favour!” Rota said. “But we did have a really good start today at the middle of the line away from everyone else fighting for each end, we had clear air and off we went. We know there is a fair bit of current especially on the south side of the island so that played into our decisions today. Our main competitors Panacea and Paroma, who we beat, have both been racing really well this year and we enjoy racing against both of them.”

The Scrub Island Invitational is the perfect combination of racing and relaxing, as Rota noted: “The BVI is the perfect setting for sailing –  flat water and consistent trades most of the time, and the islands are absolutely stunning. This regatta is an amazing balance between racing and shoreside stuff; the racing is not so intense so we can still have fun at the end of the day!”

Other winners included the J122 El Ocaso in the racing division, skippered by Steve Rigby. Adrian Keller’s custom catamaran Allegra racing in the performance multihull division took another win today as did the Leopard 50 La Novia owned and skippered by Georges Coutu.

Even when you live in paradise, not a day goes by when you don’t appreciate what you have here in the stunning BVI, says Neil Hayes, who is racing with Team RTW Ritewayers on the Moorings 46 Sea Esta. Today his team took third in class in the Scrub Island Invitational, a short but beautifully scenic 12NM upwind race to a fabulous island party hosted by Scrub Island Resort, on the heels of a third place in the bareboat class for the Round Tortola Race.

“Today was exhilarating – better than catching the ferry!” Hayes said. “We had a really nice day of racing, it was beautiful coming up the Channel, nice getting around Salt, it got a little bit hairy on the other side then you could  see the finish line and it was a great race to the finish. I am really proud that we got third – we have a completely novice crew, most people on the boat have not sailed at all – ever!”

Colm Crilly, team captain and an experienced sailor, is helping his crew who are mostly Tortola locals who work for Riteway, an event sponsor, learn about sailboat racing. He’s doing a great job, Hayes noted.

“Captain Crilly really took care of our crew and I thought we worked really well together. It was just a great day of racing – living in the BVI is an awesome experience, I think you really learn to value great days like today especially when you can sail to such incredible venues – I certainly do not take it for granted.”

Sandra Grisham, Scrub Island general manager, experienced BVISR racing today for the first time in her one year working on the island and appreciates the energy that the event sailors bring to the island.

“It’s like having all the racing celebrities from all over the world here, we’re a nautical village here – we call all of our rooms the Marina Village so we’re all about boating and yachting. Our front yard has 55 slips with all the beautiful yachts and our hotel guests look forward to seeing all the boats out sailing and getting on boats themselves to sail and a lot of our guests are yachties. We enjoy putting on this event and BVI Spring Regatta makes it very easy – they are very organized; the participants are very organized and kind and our guests at the hotel really love it so it’s a win-win.”

The Scrub Island Invitational is a fun 12NM upwind race to a fabulous island party hosted by Scrub Island Resort. The short race to Scrub Island gives sailors plenty of time on the island to enjoy the best of Caribbean resort life – barbeques, beach, and ice-cold beverages.

Photos: Alex Turnbull and Ingrid Abery