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It began as just an idea. An idea sparked by a love of the tranquil blue waters of the Virgin Islands, the warm steady trade winds, and the picturesque scenery of the islands.

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In 1972, local sailors felt it was the right time to organize a major regatta, inspired by the perfect conditions that prevail in the BVI, and events which were beginning to establish an ideal climate for larger scale sailboat racing. Bareboat charters had established themselves in the BVI offering larger yachts to race aboard, small Squib and Sunfish classes were racing among themselves, and privately-owned yachts added to the overall fleet.

Over 20 boats, including the first one-design fleet to race – the Squib class - competed in that first 1972 regatta. It was won by the yacht Nutmeg skippered by Alex Forbes of the UK who had brought his boat across from St Thomas to race. 

In 1973, with the formation of the BVI Yacht Club, the Spring Regatta became a joint effort between the BVI Yacht Club and the Hotel Association. Initially, sailors came from mainly around the Caribbean to enjoy friendly racing at the BVI Spring Regatta – from St. Thomas, St. John, St. Croix, and Puerto Rico.

Early courses took the BVI Spring Regatta fleet back and forth across the Sir Francis Drake Channel and to the south of the barrier islands. One race a day was sailed, and the fleet often ended the race and began its party on a different island than the one from which it had started.

The sailors that raced and cruised the 19-foot Squibs in the early days are part of the BVI Spring Regatta and the British Virgin Islands heritage.

An early Squib owner, El Richardson, said: “We went every place in that boat and had a great time. It could sail in any weather and was so stable, you never needed to reef. The Squibs would get into the big waves on the other side of Peter or Salt Island, we’d set the chute and take off, lots of time, catching up to boats that were a lot bigger than us. We did really well!”

El competed in every BVI Spring Regatta from 1972 - 2002. 

Tony & Ellen Sanpere

Tony and Ellen Sanpere were recently first to sign up for 2023 BVI Spring Regatta chartering a Sunsail 47 to be named Team Cayennita for the event. Tony and Ellen have been attending the BVI Spring Regatta since 1996 competing on their boats Cayenne, Cayennita, Cayennita Grande, and Pandemonium.

Tony has competed in over 20 BVI Spring Regattas. His history with the BVI Spring Regatta dates backs to the early 70s, competing in the first event and racing with Jean Brauer from St Thomas and Bob Moya from Puerto Rico. Over the years he crewed on Morningstar, MuMu, Twisted Lizard, Broken Drum, and Hotel California II.

Did you compete in the early years?  We'd love to share any photographs you have from the early years.  Please submit them if you can!

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