What could be better than fun, friendly sailboat racing, with the world’s top sailors, in paradise? The Bitter End Yacht Club (BEYC) Pro-Am Regatta has been doing that for 30 years: bringing top-notch pro racers to compete with regular folks, like you and me; in Virgin Gorda, in the British Virgin Islands.
As fate would have it, this event is always held right around Halloween, and as a Mom, that meant Trick or Treating prevailed …
No, not just for my kids, Michaela and Kieran – but the hundreds of other goobers and goblins who line up each October 31st on our front porch: as we have hosted THE Halloween House in our Santa Barbara neighborhood for ages.
But last year, with my two kids in college, I had the chance to get out of dodge and revisit the BEYC Pro-Am. What a riot! It started with a day of Laser and Hobie cat racing, followed by the Sunsail Defiance Day race to the Baths and back. Next was a fleet race on the IC24s (a modified J/24 hull with Melges 24-style cockpit) followed by a layday. Then two more days of various IC24 racing. They’re not the biggest or sexiest boats to photograph, but a real joy to sail, and shoot, in an amazing setting.
In between all that racing? Volleyball games, spike ball matches, scuba and snorkeling excursions, and parties, parties, parties! We stayed in one of the lavish villas at the BEYC, and had a gorgeous Moorings 4800 catamaran at our disposal (and used that to cruise around the islands afterwards). Several pro sailors I’d worked with before were there, plus scores of ‘amateurs’ … we made a ton of new friends and had a real blast!
Tragically, this year’s hurricanes did a number on the Virgin Islands, and our beloved BEYC was destroyed. Crews are working hard to return this amazing property to its prior splendor.
And we are back to Halloween House!
We have a whole storage unit dedicated to scores of ghouls and goblins, towering vampires and scary witches; fog machines, sound machines, lights, and masses of webbing. It truly ‘takes a village’ to set up for Halloween, so friends come over to help (and each bring a few bags of candy to fill the coffins … I mean, coffers!)
I find Halloween is just another opportunity to exercise my creativity. Setting up the composition of the décor and characters, and creating the lighting plan, feeds my creative soul. And each year I come up with some crazy costume design too.
It’s so much fun, as hundreds and hundreds of kids walk up the steps, some cheery, but some cowering, at the terrifying display and sound effects. Perhaps I should consider an ‘Ultimate Halloween’ calendar … Scary!
These customized IC24s are not the biggest, or sexiest boats to photograph, but a real joy to sail, in a great setting.
For nearly a decade we’ve had the pleasure of featuring Matias Capizzano’s work in the Ultimate Sailing Calendar. Featuring dinghies – like our July Optis – frequently manned by young sailors; it’s a great equalizer to the big boats and offshore venues you typically find in the calendar.
Even though these are small boats, the vigor and excitement these competitors display are no less intense than America’s Cup or Volvo Ocean racers. No matter what size your vessel, sailboat racing can be an intense sport! And dinghy sailing is an inspiring tribute to our origins as sailors. No one started their racing career on a TP52! The juniors featured in Matias’ images are the rock stars of tomorrow.
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