Winning one’s fleet at the Helly Hansen Sailing World Regatta Series is one thing, but scoring the overall title takes the celebration up a big notch. At each regatta, individual fleet winners’ names are placed into a Mount Gay Rum red hat, shuffled and drawn, with one winner earning a berth at the 2023 Caribbean Championship in October. Racing charter boats provided by Sunsail in the British Virgin Islands, teams will sprint from island to island for six days. Five teams (clockwise above) will take on our 2022 defender, Annapolis’ Team Mirage.
Defender: Team Mirage (J/105)
Cedric Lewis and his talented crew from Mirage arrived in the BVI last October with two clear goals: to have fun and take down the defending champ. It took them six days and plenty of rum to claim the title. Now, with local knowledge and a handle on how best to get the most from their charter boat, Mirage will enjoy the upper handle—er, hand.
St. Petersburg Challenger: Team Matros (S2 7.9)
Tom and Mary Bryant, leaders of the Michigan-based Matros, have confidence they’ll be contenders in the BVI after winning the S2 7.9 class’s Midwinter Championship in St. Petersburg. The trick, they say, will be to “set up the boat each day for the conditions.” Little do they know, it’s the same every day in the BVI—trades are trades.
San Diego Challenger: Team Space Cadet (VX One)
Emerging from the San Diego regatta as the top VX One team in the class’s regatta debut, skipper Charlie Welsh, of Newport Beach, California, will lead his teammates Liz Swain and Carolyn Smith to the BVI, with one big challenge: transitioning from their nimble sportboat to the cruisy charter boat they’ve earned. Not to worry, Welsh says, the space cadets will be in their own orbit.
Annapolis Challenger: Team Shamrock (J/30)
Luck was firmly in hand for Bruce Irvin and his team of youngsters on the J/30 Shamrock, which won an especially challenging edition of the Helly Hansen Sailing World Regatta Series in Annapolis. The crew, he says, were “over the moon” when the pick was made, and the only problem he foresees will be fitting them all on board in the BVI. No doubt, every berth will be occupied.
Chicago Challenger: Team Exile (J/88)
While Jeff Davis’ team on Shamrock, the J/111 version was selected on the spot in Chicago following its win in the ORC division and sub-class. With pressing work commitments, however, Davis ultimately surrendered his berth to the Chicago regatta’s top J/88 team on Exile, skippered by Andy Graff. Graff and Co., happily accepted the challenge, and while highly respected in their one-design class and on the shorthanded racing scene the Great Lakes, Team Exile will be tested to get the maximum speed and enjoyment from their Sunsail charterboat.
Marblehead Challenger: Team Elektra (IOD)
Carolyn Corbet, of Boston, and her teammates on Elektra did the unthinkable in Marblehead, usurping the International One Design defending class champion on the final day, and then winning the fifth and final championship berth. “My crew was hoping for this,” she says. “It’s going to be awesome.”