We don’t normally hype stand-up paddle boarding events in far-flung destinations, but this year the British Virgin Island’s annual Painkiller Cup definitely has a West Coast hook. Adopted sons of San Francisco Jimmy Spithill and Shannon Falcone — key members of the winning Oracle Team USA America’s Cup team — have confirmed that they’ll attend this year’s event, slated to take place January 25.
Organized by longtime BVI event promoter Andy Morrell, the Cup’s 14-mile course runs from Trellis Bay (adjacent to the BVI’s international airport), west through the Guana Island cut, along the north shore of Tortola and across the potentially rough five-mile channel to Jost Van Dyke island’s idyllic White Bay, home of the Soggy Dollar Bar. The Painkiller cocktail was invented there by Daphne Henderson in the late ’70s.
The route is to be run by three-person teams, one of whom must be female. Paddlers will rotate on and off their board — in open water — every 30 minutes. Unlike most Caribbean sailing regattas, the Painkiller Cup offers at least $10,000 in prize money, with half of that going to the top team. A three-mile Mini-Painkiller Cup event will also be run for less-adventurous paddlers, with a course from Sandy Cay to the Soggy Dollar Bar.
As remarkable as Spithill and Falcone are as sailors, achieving podium finishes in this event won’t be easy. Among the competition will be Chase Kosterlitz (top-ranked U.S. racer), Belar Diaz (top Spanish racer), and Kai Lenny (the Hawaiian watersports whiz who raced the AC72s with his kiteboard on San Francisco Bay. Many amateurs from the U.S., Caribbean and elsewhere will also participate.
In conjunction with Spithill and Falcone’s BVI visit, the sailing-oriented Bitter End YC resort will hold a special HIHO Bitter End America’s Cup Party, Thursday, January 23. There, we assume, mere mortals will have a chance to rub shoulders and drink rum with Jimmy and Shannon. Exact details are TBA, but if you’re going to be in that part of the Caribbean in late January, you won’t want to miss it. Who knows, we might even show up ourselves.