2007 BEYC 'Drakes Challenge' – Eleven IC24s rigged up on a very grey and gusty Saturday morning to do battle.   With tropical storm Noel winding up off to the east, bands of squalls were going to make things interesting. Race officers Tom and Barbara F, who have been officiating at the BEYC for over 20 years, got the first race underway after a short delay getting  the course squared up.   During the pre-start the wind went right and it  became a drag race to the windward gate followed by a reach back to the leeward gate.


Plenty of spinnakers flogged out of control with poles saluting the skies.   The second downwind leg saw B Mobile (Colin Rathbun) nearly get up on the plane in a particluarly strong gust .  The race was won by Latitude 19  (Chris Haycraft) who narrowly beat Mio Broadband to the line, with Rathbun third.

For the remainder of the morning conditions stayed 'fresh to frightening' and the race committee decided to continue racing without spinnakers.   At the front of the fleet a pattern emerged with Rathbun, Haycraft and Hirst rarely out of the top three.   The large fleet meant that being over early produced big scores.   Andrew Waters found this out the hard way posting two 9ths in the morning session.

Lunch was called and it was Rathbun and Haycraft locked on 6 points with Hirst on 9 after 3 races.  Waters and his crew licked their wounds and sought refreshments.   This made all the difference in the world as they convincingly won the first race of the afternoon.   Waters, second last year, with a scoreline good enough to win any regatta was the pre regatta  co-top seed…   Was Andrew Waters now back on track? I'm afraid not,  another pair of 9ths rounded off Mio Broadband's miserable day.

The weather conditions improved with the wind moderating and settling down blowing out of Gun Creek.  Haycraft, Rathbun and Hirst continued  to show the way with the exception of an OCS (and a whopping 12 points) for Robbie Hirst in race 6.  Best of the improvers for the day were Chris Currerri sailing racinginparadise and James Woods sailing INTAC.  

Over half of the competitors slogged back down the Sir Francis Drake Channel to hear Ben Ainslie speak at the RBVIYC.   After the nasty trip back up to the BEYC the following morning most were heard to say,  'That's the last time I commute to the BEYC!"

Sunday sees a bit of sunshine poking through the clouds and a steady breeze from the Southeast.   The final morning's racing gets underway.   Lat 19 looked to be in control with a 4 point lead over Hirst even after the discard which hooked in after race 7.  That all changed in a heartbeat as Haycraft got buried at the start in the first race and posted an 8th, Rathbun won with Hirst second.

Haycraft bounces back with a bullet in race 8, Rathbun 3rd and Hirst 4th. The improvers are now mixing it up at the front with Currerri and Woods going especially well.  Robbie Hirst sails a blinder to win race 9, Rathbun 4th, Haycraft 5th.  At this point Rathbun is sailing back to the dock with the regatta in his pocket but enough boats hover around the committee boat and Tom declares race 10 is on.

It's down to the wire.   This race decides the regatta.   Rathbun's vanghas exploded off the mast and he's struggling.   After a tense affair Hirst posts a 2nd, Haycraft a 3rd and Rathbun a 6th, none of us know who has won overall.  Back at the BEYC lunch is ordered and everyone waits for Tom to bring the results.   Hirst has done it by one point, totalling 24 points from 9 races.   Rathbun and Haycraft are tied up on 25 with Haycraft taking second with his 3 bullets over Rathbun's 2.   If Hirst had scored just one more lonely point Haycraft would have sealed the regatta with a three-way tie.  Hirst would have been third with only one bullet!

A few other 'what if's' are explored but it's team Robbie Hirst and Mio Broadband who accept the perpetual trophy from BEYC supremos Mikhail Shamkin and John Glynn.  The competitors thank Tom and Barbara for a great job in very tricky conditions.   The match racing betwen Peter Holmberg and Robbie Hirst's team was cancelled as more line squalls rolled in with over 40kts of wind and horizontal rain.

Written by Richard Wooldridge

Upcoming Races

Quantum Sails IC24 International Regatta 8-9 Dec
Commodore’s Cup and Prize Giving 15 Dec

Latitude 18 Halyard Challenge 5 Jan
Governor’s Cup 19 Jan
Colombian Emeralds BVI Women’s Regatta 26-27 Jan
30th Annual Sweethearts Regatta 15-17 Feb
26th Annual Classic Yacht Regatta 15-17 Feb
11th Annual Dark and Stormy Regatta 7-10 Mar
BVI Sailing Festival 24-27 Mar
BVI Spring Regatta 28-30 Mar
Virgin Queen Pizza Pursuit Race 19 Apr
BVI Dinghy Championships 10- 11 May
34th Annual Foxy’s Wooden Boat Regatta 23-25 May
Financial Services Challenge 21 Jun
17th Annual Firecracker 500 Race 4 – 5 Jul
Lowell Wheatley Anegada Pursuit Race 19 Jul
Back to Schools Regatta    6-7 Sep
Pete Sheals Match Racing 4-5 Oct
Willy T Virgins Cup Race 11 Oct
Trafalgar Cup Race 18-20 Oct
11th Annual Foxy’s Cat Fight 24-26 Oct
bMobile BVI Schools Regatta 1-2 Nov
North Sound and Back Race 8-9 Nov
Nanny Cay IC24 Nations Cup 15- 16 Nov
Pussers Round Tortola Race 22 Nov
Gustav Wilmerding 18th Memorial Challenge 5-6 Dec
Quantum Sails IC24 International Regatta 13-14 Dec
O’Neal & Mundy Commodore’s Cup 20 Dec

And if that's not enough, check out the forum on www.IC24.org for more weekly beercan racing action right off the southern end of Nanny Cay.