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Mix, Bake and Party

We’ve spent a lot of time sailing Caribbean waters, but we have to admit we’d never even heard of this annual March regatta before receiving this report from San Francisco Bay sailor Lynn Ringseis:

"Here’s an ideal recipe for a fun-filled regatta: 1) Mix together 30 sailboats, a handful of competitive sailors, boatloads of cruisers looking for a party, and a cluster of ‘senior’ race committee members. 2) Bake under the tropical sun while racing to Anegada, the most laid-back of the British Virgin Islands. 

"The annual Dark and Stormy Regatta has often lived up to its name, but this year Mother Nature was in a mellow mood. On March 8 she supplied just enough breeze for racers to sail from the starting line near Marina Cay to the finish off the channel markers for Setting Point, the main anchorage on Anegada — a low-lying, coral-formed island that is unique within the BVI chain."

An Anegada hammock ideally situated to take in yet another dreamy sunset.

© Lynn Ringseis

Race organizer Martin Van Houten said, "We are into promoting fun races. We want to attract people who are sailing their houses. There will be some competitive racers, but we want everyone to be a winner, so all entrants receive prizes." One of the most competitive local boats was the Melges 24 Firewater, which took line honors. Second across was Luv, a visiting 46-ft X Yacht from Denmark. The 35-ft Edel cat called Wildfire crossed third.  

Sunday’s lay day did not have to rely on wind at all. While there were loads of activities, such as a horseshoe tournament, sandcastle sculpting and kite building/flying, some sailors chose to roam the miles of pristine and undeveloped beaches and count the shades of blue in this ever-changing aqua landscape, which is connected to the fourth largest barrier reef on earth, Horseshoe Reef. Along with snorkeling and visiting the island’s many funky beach bars, the day was capped off with a fabulous buffet dinner and music under the stars hosted by the Anegada Reef Restaurant. 

The return trip on Monday, March 10 — when BV Islanders celebrate Commonwealth Day — brought a flat, glassy sea and a long motor trip to Nanny Cay Marina for the awards ceremony.

Van Houten is Commodore of the West End Yacht Club (WEYC), an ultra-informal club that meets casually at the Fish ‘n Lime restaurant (formerly the Jolly Roger) in Soper’s Hole. The Club hosts several other fun races that he characterizes as "Fungattas," such as the Sweetheart’s Regatta on Valentine’s Day, Foxy’s Wooden Boat Regatta May 24-26, the Firecracker for July 4th and Foxy’s Cat Fight (catamaran racing) October 24-25.

The race committee coined the name Dark and Stormy Regatta a few years back due to wild conditions that year. Gosling’s Rum soon stepped up as a sponsor to help promote one of the Caribbean’s signature libations: the dark and stormy cocktail which is made with a healthy dose of Gosling’s rum mixed with ginger beer over ice with a wedge of lime. We found it to be the perfect beverage to sip at day’s end from a beach hammock, while enjoying the setting sun. 

For more info on these events, look for the WEYC’s Facebook page (coming soon).

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