March 31, 2009, Road Town, Tortola:  Enthusiastic sailors left the dock this morning for the first race of the 2009 BVI Sailing Festival under cloudy skies and with 15 – 20 knots of breeze.  Although the weather during the first leg of the race was somewhat damp between a little bit of spray and the occasional squall line, it did not compare to last year’s conditions which forced many boats to drop out due to the extreme wind and sea conditions.   This year, despite a few early clouds, it was a picture perfect day for racing.  

The course for the Bitter End Cup led the fleet from Drake Channel south east between Salt Island and Dead Chest, then the beat continued due east up the south side of Salt and Cooper.  The fleet turned north heading back into the channel between Cooper and Ginger Islands, leaving the Dogs to starboard before heading east to the entrance of North Sound at Colquhoun Cut.  The finish line was off the Bitter End Yacht Club.

Winning the Bitter End Cup was no stranger to the winners’ circle, Three Harkoms.  This modified Beneteau 44 has taken top honours in the Rolex International Regatta,  Antigua Sailing Week, BVI Spring Regatta , St. Maarten Heineken Regatta and the St. Croix International Regatta.    Finishing second was a very sleek and sexy Reichel Pugh 52 owned by Jim Mitchell, Vincitore, and Yeoman XXXII, after an emergency repair to it’s keel yesterday, was third.  

Guy Eldridge, racing his Beneteau 10R, Luxury Girl, finished mid fleet in the racing division.  “I wanted to race the Sailing Festival because it is an opportunity to race in the BVI against some great boats.” and then added, “Besides the racing, Bitter End is beautiful and it’s a chance to have fun for a couple of days”.

Clover III, a past winner of this race, finished first, in the Cruising Division.  She was followed by Tom Mullin’s Shamrock, and  Augustine, a Beneteau First 42 finished third.

Team BVI, skipped by another frequent winner, Dunbar, placed first in the bareboat division.  Justice, owned by Justin Barton, with long-time skipper and local legend Presley King on board, was second and another BVI Tourist Board entry, Team Germany, placed third.

Tomorrow is the layday, Bitter End style, which means the sailors have plenty of choices.  They get to choose whether they want to race dinghies in North Sound, keel-boats around Virgin Gorda, go for a snorkel or just lounge by the pool or on the beach.   Then Thursday it’s the sleigh ride back to Nanny Cay for the Nanny Cay Cup and the official start of the BVI Spring Regatta.
Complete results are available at