©2013 Todd VanSickle©2013 Todd VanSickle

Melges 32 Fleet Put On The Race Show At BVI Spring Regatta

8 April 2014

By Jaime Torres — A growing fleet of Melges 32s gathered for some hot racing and party action at the BVI Spring Regatta out of Nanny Cay, Tortola this past weekend. With 10 races over three days in conditions that can best be described as epic, they were not disappointed!

Most of the boats arrived at the BVI after racing in the St. Thomas International where Jaime Torres’ Smile and Wave had a narrow victory over new secondhand Melges 32 Lazy Dog owned by Sergio Sagramoso and Luis Juarbe and his team aboard SOCA. The Puerto Rico contingent was looking forward to racing against St. Martin’s Kick’em Jenny in a 4-boat one-design event at BVI.

The regatta’s organizers gave us our very own start and course area very close to Nanny Cay’s white sand beach so the shore-bound crew got stadium seats to the Melges show. The fleet asked for 50 min w/l courses with some island long distance races mixed in and that is exactly what we got from David Kerr, the One Design PRO.

Day one dawned squally and gusty with winds ranging from 10 to 25 knots and carrying very heavy rain. The race committee ran into trouble anchoring in the 100-foot deep rocky bottom so they sent us out on our first long distance race around Peter Island while they solved their issue.

Ian Hope Ross’ Kick’em Jenny is used to island courses and has the boat well set with outboard jib leads. He schooled the rest of the fleet on the two-sail reach to Peter Island. Lazy Dog and SOCA followed the KJ crew with Smile and Wave trailing the rest by 10 boat lengths. It was Torres setting the chute first on the south side of the island and accelerating down some big swells to quickly pass the front-runners. Kick’em Jenny held on to finish in 2nd place. Kick’em Jenny may have gotten the wrong impression of what one-design Melges 32 racing is about from that first race but once we shifted to full on short course windward leewards, things changed a bit!

With the anchor buried solid, the RC punished us with 4 additional w/l races in challenging conditions. At the end of day one, Smile And Wave led by just 1 point over Lazy Dog and the stage was set for showdown with LD for the rest of weekend.

The 2nd day’s first sunrays brought 18 knots of solid breeze. Team Smile and Wave’s coach Martin Kullman paid a visit to the KJ team to help them with some fine-tuning of their rig. Help indeed! The St. Martin crew found some serious speed and led at every first windward mark rounding that day. But 3 bullets for Smile and Wave solidified its lead into a comfy 6-point advantage going into the last day of racing while SOCA and KJ duked it out to stay on the podium.

The last day was another racer’s dream with more sunshine and winds in the 15 to 20 knot range. In the first race, Smile and Wave recovered from an OCS to finish within a boat length of winner Lazy Dog. We closed out the weekend with a 12-mile w/l around Little Thatch on the west end of Tortola. The fleet rounded the windward mark to face a 6-mile sleigh ride in 20 knots and a sweet 3 to 4 foot swell. Constant speeds in the high teens peppered with 20-knot bursts had everybody grinning. Smile and Wave dominated this long distance with SOCA in 2nd.

The racers welcomed the early end to the day’s racing as everybody needed to prep for long deliveries west and south. This awesome event was capped with lots of live music and plenty of chilled Heineken and Mount Gay rum drinks at the gracious awards ceremony held at the race village. The 41st edition of this classic Caribbean event with its great racetracks, fabulous shore side activities and first class race management could only be improved by the presence of more Melges 32s.

We are doing our part as the North Caribbean fleet is growing steady. Let’s hope 2015 delivers even more exciting Melges 32 one design action.

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