The seventh annual Loro Piana Caribbean Superyacht Regatta & Rendezvous kicks off tomorrow with a fleet of 17 sailing yachts set to race in the beautiful waters of the British Virgin Islands. Presented by Italian fine clothing brand Loro Piana, the regatta is co-organized by the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda and Boat International Media.
The impressive fleet totals 644m (2,113 feet) in length overall and represents a range of yachts from the German Frers-designed 42m (141-foot) classic Rebecca, perhaps the most beautiful superyacht afloat, to the ultra-modern 35m (115-foot) Swan Shamanna, launched in 2016. The largest yacht is the 60m (196-foot) Perseus3, designed by Ron Holland and built by Perini Navi, and the smallest is the 23m (76-foot) Wild Horses, a W Class racing yacht.
Also entered are the winners of the past three editions of the regatta – the Reichel/Pugh-designed 34m Nilaya from Baltic Yachts, which won in 2016 and ’14, and 2015 winner P2, the 38m (124-foot) Philippe Briand design and built by Perini Navi. Nilaya and P2 also won their respective classes last year, as did the 27m Freya, designed by Frers and built by Swan.
“We like coming back to the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda here in Virgin Gorda because the sailing is the best in the Caribbean,” said Nilaya tactician Bouwe Bekking. “We’ve been sailing together for nearly eight years now and that makes a difference going around the corners and getting the sails up and down. We’ve been pretty handy with that.”
The northeasterly trade winds have been blowing hard in the Caribbean this winter and that’s made it difficult for crews to practice this week. But with the northeasterly breeze around 15 knots today the fleet took to the water in anticipation of racing tomorrow.
“I think the sailing will be fantastic,” Bekking said. “There’s a bit of a mix tomorrow, around 13-14 knots. Sunday might be a bit more and then a bit less on Monday, but it should be really nice sailing conditions for everybody.”
The race committee has upwards of 30 courses that it can send the fleet on any given day, measuring in approximate length from 14 to 30 nautical miles. One race will be sailed each of tomorrow, Sunday and Monday. Superyacht races are pursuit racing, meaning each boat takes the racecourse on its own at a designated time. The races are designed to last two to three hours.
The winner of each of the four classes will receive the Loro Piana Cup and the overall trophy, the Loro Piana Prize: Boat International Media Trophy will be awarded to the class winner that is 100 feet length overall or greater with a full cruising interior.
“Every year since 2011 we have been welcoming fleets of some of the world’s most beautiful sail and motor yachts for the Loro Piana Caribbean Superyacht Regatta & Rendezvous,” said YCCS Commodore Riccardo Bonadeo. “We hope to have the usual perfect sailing conditions provided by Virgin Gorda which, combined with the busy shoreside programme, will assure a spectacular event, one of the best on the Caribbean superyacht calendar. For this 50th anniversary year of the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda we even have a special delegation of more than 40 members who will be on the race course cheering the fleet on.”
The rich social programme that always accompanies the Loro Piana superyacht regattas kicks off this evening with a Caribbean barbecue and welcome drinks at YCCS and continues tomorrow with the exclusive Loro Piana Owners’ Dinner at the yacht club.