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Club 1973 at The Royal BVI Yacht Club

Club 1973 is the brand new restaurant, bar and club house at the Royal BVI Yacht Club opening just in time for the Club and BVI Spring Regatta’s milestone 50th Anniversary celebrations at the end of March.

Abby O’Neal and Adrian Johnson, joined by a talented team of professionals have renovated the space and created a whole new food and beverage menu with extra special offerings for the enjoyment of RBVIYC members and the general public.

About the Club’s founding partners

Abby and Adrian have been associates for years. Meeting through their shared interest in a sustainable environment. Abby was managing director of Green Technology (BVI) Ltd and was promoting compostable tableware to reduce plastic waste. Adrian was involved in ecological technology by improving the disposable nature of organic waste to reduce greenhouse gases. They were introduced by the late Colin Bramble who thought they could be a good match. How right he was. They have been firm friends ever since.

Abby, an experienced businesswoman has many varied connections to the marine industry both in her career and life. Her father, the first Premier of the BVI, the late Hon. Ralph T. O’Neal was instrumental in enticing the yacht chartering industry to the BVI from the U.S. Virgin Islands and ensuring its sustainability.

After first visiting the BVI in 1980, Adrian has brought hundreds of visitors to the Territory as a charter yacht broker and skipper of both large and small yachts and by leading large flotillas. His love of sailing and its joys and challenges morphed into a charitable endeavor. In his home country of Canada he founded Broad Reach Canada, that utilises sailing as the medium for helping at-risk youth to change their lives’ trajectory.

Extensive renovations

For the make-over of the space Abby and Adrian engaged local construction company Rufred Forbes Associates lead by Cortez Forbes and well-known Interior Architect and artist Debi Carson.


“There was a strong desire from the team to implement a change of identity for the future of the Club, while also preserving a space that traditionally worked well for the members” says Debi.

Clever design features created for function and visual attractiveness, such as the nautical themed decorative screen with vertically run dock lines that delineate the entrance way from the dining area, but do not obstruct the views or natural trade winds flowing through the space.

The colour scheme is inspired by everything ocean, with a deep turquoise to accent the royal blue in the Yacht Club colour scheme and varying shades of white to reflect the hue of sea-spray, then grounded with wood tones. Whilst the fixtures and fittings consist of shiplap, teak and greenheart; nautical lines, stainless rigging and woven textile materials.


The bar has been carefully refurbished to preserve a large part of the Yacht Club’s heritage. “The original bar top, fabricated by members over 30-years ago, has been restored to reveal a beautiful natural teak” says Debi. “It has also been relocated to allow for a closer connection to the outdoors and unobstructed views of the channel.”

Casual bar seating has been increased on the porch and service for this space can be obtained through an open window connecting to the indoor area.

A dedicated area at the entrance features yacht club collectables, memorabilia, photographs, awards and trophies associated with the hundreds of events organised over the Club’s 50-years.

Sailors will be thrilled to hear that restroom facilities have been completely upgraded and refurbished with luxury finishes and much-needed hot showers!

Food & Beverage

The operations manager consultant of Club 1973 is Rhys Jenkins, a seasoned and versatile food and beverage professional. He cut his teeth in the Cayman Islands and as such is well-versed in tropical catering.

A bar and nightclub in the entertainment district of Toronto gave Rhys a wealth of knowledge in running his own business. After seven years of successful operation, he moved on to a golf club where he became the general manager of the bar and restaurant.

Club 1973’s beverage line-up is traditional yet playful with a unique signature cocktail list as well as some of the classics. Rhys is an experienced mixologist and has a passion for spirits, fresh ingredients and menu design. There will be spirit-free cocktails and fresh juices too.

The Club is proud to welcome Chef, Kenetha Ashton to the team. Kenetha, who trained at the Chef Academy in London has recently been busy wowing guests on private charter yachts with culinary creations learned from her time at prestigious Michelin-starred international restaurants such as Pied-à-terre.

Local ingredients are a priority to Kenetha – both from land and sea. Fresh ‘Catch of the Day’ will be on the menu with special preparations changed out regularly. Kenetha cooks everything from scratch and we highly recommend her Gourmet Burgers made fresh, daily with homemade potato burger buns.

Besides lunch and dinner, Club 1973 offers cocktail kits to go, lunch boxes and meal kits, all prepared and ready for a sumptuous meal at sea.

Bar snacks with traditional favourites such as conch fritters, fresh fish bites and more. On Sundays, brunch is served with a signature Bloody Mary.

Welcome one and all

Everyone is welcome, from RBVIYC members to locals and visitors alike and Adrian knows of at least nine Royal Canadian clubs whose members will be interested to hear of this hand of friendship.

Arrangements are being made to provide a dinghy dock space at the Road Reef Marina just steps away from Club 1973.

Event venue & chill out space

Apart from normal meetings, pre-race directions and award ceremonies, there will be social events, quiz nights, gourmet nights with wine pairings and guest chef evenings and members are welcome to use the Club and its facilities for special events such as anniversaries and birthdays.

During periods outside mealtimes members and guests will be able to use the Club for casual visits and enjoy a coffee while checking emails and messages, just read a book or play a game of chess.

An exciting future

“The Royal BVI Yacht Club is thrilled to partner with Adrian, Abby and their team” said Tamsin Rand, the Royal BVI Yacht Club’s Manager. “Their vision for creating a fantastic bar and restaurant that has captured the spirit of the Yacht Club at its heart is very exciting.

By displaying the trophies and awards for guests to enjoy, preserving some of the historical elements and celebrating sailing, it really feels like a clubhouse again! The choice of the name Club 1973 is a perfect tribute to the Royal BVI Yacht Club’s origins in the year that we celebrate our 50th anniversary”. •

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