Woody Cullen and two of his three kids, Emma (26) and Craig (24), sailed WaveWalker, their new-to-them Swan 58 from Spain to Antigua in early 2023, arriving in the British Virgin Islands just in time for their first BVI Spring Regatta (BVISR). Woody and his wife Carolyn grew up cruising in the Caribbean, but they had never raced its spectacular waters. Quickly they discovered that warm water and hot racing are not to be ignored!
“We love the BVI,” Woody shared. “I have sailed there since I was little with my father, whether bareboating or our own boat but always cruising. However, last year we discovered that the BVI is just as great to race in – we had a blast and we’re excited to be making our return to the BVI Spring regatta this season for some fun, friendly competition and all the celebrations afterwards.”
While home base these days is in the mountains of Sun Valley, Idaho, Woody and Carolyn both grew up outside of Philadelphia. Woody grew up sailing around Cape Cod and Nantucket with his grandfather who had a J24 which he sailed on the Delaware River. With his dad Woody sailed on the Chesapeake, New England, the Caribbean and raced in Annapolis to Newport and Newport to Bermuda races several times.
Carolyn grew up sailing in Maine, racing at both Bar Harbor and Northeast Harbor yacht clubs racing Mercuries and crewing on IODs. She cruised with her parents throughout New England and all over the Caribbean.
The Cullens have owned much smaller boats, like day sailors and a Beetle Cat called Dash which Woody and the kids raced on when they were small. WaveWalker is their first foray into a bigger boat – the Cullens had seen it a few years ago in the Caribbean under the previous owner and really liked the look of her. She was barely a year old when she came up for sale in Europe and while she’s a big step up from their humble Beetle Cat, the Cullen’s were thrilled to be able to make WaveWalker their own. Most of all, they love being able to have their loved ones on board to share fun times.
“It’s really important to us to have family and friends as crew, it’s a goal of ours,” Carolyn shared. “We had some pros helping us out last year and we’ll have some with us again teaching and coaching us, but our family and kids get first invite.”
Usually, Woody helms and Carolyn is on trim with the kids in various positions that they have come to like; Emma has learned the bow, Craig found his groove at mid mast, and youngest son Robby (19) enjoys trimming the kite. WaveWalker will return to BVISR in March with mostly the same crew; the Cullens are looking forward to being based out of Nanny Cay this year for the first time.
“We can’t wait to sail together as a team on those gorgeous turquoise waters and experience the amazing hospitality from everyone in Nanny Cay again,” Carolyn said.
Following BVISR WaveWalker will race Antigua Sailing Week, and the Cullens plan to do as much Caribbean cruising as they can squeeze in before sailing her back to New England this summer where they plan to do the Newport to Bermuda race.
“Racing is hard on the boat as we are finding out, we did have to upgrade some winches, and lines due to wear and tear, and this year we have a new jib and new kite,” Woody noted. “It’s been a learning process, but it certainly is making us better sailors as well as it is fun and exciting. We had a wonderful time last year, the BVI hasn’t changed much at all over the years, and I can’t think of anywhere else that is as easy to enjoy!”