Inaugural Full Moon Race – British Virgin Islands 2018 – Podiumed!!

Heartbeat IV – Inaugural Triennial Full Moon Race – British Virgin Islands

Racing under the flag of the RBYC (and RORC)  Heartbeat IV came 2nd in the Inaugural Absolut Vodka Full Moon Race, an ~ 180 mile race around the 64 (or so) British Virgin Islands – yet another podium finish!  This race will be a triennial event and 17 boats were entered for the first edition.   The first part of the race circumnavigates Tortola and the proceeds on and round Virgin Gorda and Anegada to the East, and back to Great and Little Tobago in the West. The course is shown below.

BVI Full Moon RACE


We delivered Heartbeat to Tortola – clearing immigration in Road Town Harbour.  This was the first time any of us (apart from Paul W) had seen some of the absolute devastation wrought by Hurricane Irma (and the Maria). The pics below show the full team together in Road Town and Heartbeat IV (of course) flying her assorted battle flags.  We also show a couple of examples of boats that had been destroyed.



Leaving Road Town we went to Nanny Cay where the marina team had got the outer marina in superb condition.  Technically the Full Moon Race is  challenging and the local almanac states ‘those unfamiliar with the waters should never travel at night’ and ‘the Horsehoe Reef south of Anegada is the biggest boat cemetery in the Lesser Antilles’.  Heartened by this and with ~ 40 waypoints we had three navigators cross-checking each other, particularly as we could hear waves breaking on the island shores throughout most of the race. The Heartbeat IV team was made up of seasoned Burnham, EAORA and RBYC sailors who have sailed together for years (Dani Southey, Nicola Paterson, Paul Wood [current EAORA chair], Paul Blande, Sarah Gazzard and John Hounsell).

The first part of the race, circumnavigating Tortola was a gentle sail, with winds dropping off as we went from East to West, and then picking up substantially as we rounded the Western tip and sailed East, by Deadman’s Chest the light had gone and we had a very heavy 25k+ Easterly  with driving rain beating up along the southern islands before turning North for Anegada.  It was like a warmer version of a wet and windy April North Sea crossing, with double reefed man balanced with #3.  This lasted for ~ 8 hours by which time many competitors had retired.  Having rounded Anegada and stood off the Horseshoe Reef the rest of the race was pretty idyllic Caribbean sailing, as shown in a couple of pictures below.  In particular we saw the Full Moon, captured as a tiny dot in the background in the first two images:


We had no idea how many competitors were still on the racetrack or where thet were so were delighted to find on finishing that we were placed 2nd in the CSA Racing Division, behind a race optimised Swan 45, with a young fit team (no offence to the crew of Heartbeat IV!).  It was billed as ‘One Brilliant Night’ – and it was.



To all of us, what was most striking was the amount of hurricane damage that exists. The number of sunk boats, damaged properties and cars is amazing and had not really been conveyed by the media. The BVI Spring Regatta Team and the Nanny Cay Marina Team had done a phenomenal job in being able to get the Regatta together, and we felt pleased that Heartbeat had supported their efforts. Part of the HB the team volunteered to assist with beach clean ups and this was much appreciated.  We also met the Royal BVI Yacht Club team who had lost all their cadet fleet dinghies in the hurricane. They have organised a ‘donate a boat part’ to support the cadets, who are children from all backgrounds across the Island.  It would be nice if RBYC members felt they could contribute, and the link is here:

This was another fantastic trip and we all felt privileged to have been there, to have supported what will become another classic long distance race, and to meet the resilient BV Islanders.  We will all be back.

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