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Heads of State go Head to Head in the "Tortola Sloop Shootout"

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August Festival, "Tola Boat Shootout"
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August Festival, "Tola Boat Shootout"

As part of the BVI August Festival Celebrations, the Honourable Chief Minister, Dr. Orlando Smith and His Excellency, (past) Governor Thomas Macan, went head to head on August 3, 2004 in the first annual, "Tola Boat Shootout" sailing race in Road Harbour, Tortola.

The Tortola Sloops, often referred to as "Tola Boats", are recognizable throughout the Caribbean as the oldest and most efficient wooden boat designs still in use today!

Though there isn't much demand for wooden boats anymore, the Tola boats remain a standard by which today's sailboats may be judged.

The shootout between the two friendly rivals was the brainchild of Jeff Brooks, a staffer for the Marine Studies Department at the H. Lavity Stoutt Community College.

The Chief Minister & Jeff Brooks spacer Race Captain - Shaina Smith
Chief Minister Smith & Jeff Brooks
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Race Captain - Shaina Smith

Jeff is charged with the care and maintenance of the College's boats ... three of which are the only known, Tola Boats left in the world. Of those three sloops, only Moonbeam and Youth Instructor are Seaworthy.

The Chief Minister Inspects the Sails spacer
Chief Minister Inspects the Sails
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Responsibility for coordinating the Festival sailing race fell upon race captain, Shaina Smith of the BVI Power Boat Association. Dave Cooper and Martin Van Houten of the West End Yacht Club set the course marks and served as race committee.

"Moonbeam" was built in Anegada by Watson White in 1982, marking the 100th birthday of her older sister, Vigilant!

"Youth Instructor", the larger of the two boats was the last sailboat built by master shipwright, Osmond Davies of East End, Tortola.

The 4 man crews aboard each Tola Boat were loaded with ringers, including two previous, BVI Olympic sailors (Elvett Meyers & John Shirley) as well as 4 other notable BVI sailors with a history of yacht racing wins under their belts!

In the first race, both helmsmen displayed excellent tactical skills and the distance between the two boats was almost imperceptible! Each skipper covered the others' moves very well!

Carving upwind beautifully, Moonbeam, helmed by Governor Thomas Macan, began to pull away from Chief Minister, Orlando Smith aboard Youth Instructor early on in the race. However, the Governor's lead was soon to become part of BVI history!

The Chief Minister and His Crew spacer The Chief Takes the Helm
The Chief Minister and His Crew
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Orlando Smith Takes the Helm
The Chief & Governor - Neck & Neck spacer Moonbeam (Macan) Takes the Lead
Smith & Macan - Neck & Neck
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Governor Macan Takes the Lead

In a classic, tactical move, and after rounding the windward mark, the Chief came steaming down Road Harbour, behind the Governor and effectively stole his wind.

Governor Macan ... on a run! spacer The Chief Minister Blows Past
Governor Thomas Macan on a run!
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The Chief Minister Blows Past

In the photos above, Governor Macan's crew aboard Moonbeam look aft as the Chief Minister aboard Youth Instructor, steals their wind. Having accomplished his task and slowing Moonbeam sufficiently, Chief Minister Smith sails high ... leaving Governor Macan and crew to roll in her wake!

The Governor in Hot Pursuit spacer The Chief Minister Sails to Victory!
Governor Macan In Hot Pursuit
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Chief Minister Smith Sails to Victory!

In what was a clear victory, the Honourable Chief Minister, Dr. Orlando Smith was declared the winner of the first race of the first annual BVI, Tola Boat Shootout!

The two crews then swapped boats for the second race which had a somewhat less than elegant start. Moonbeam, helmed by the Chief Minister was slow to the line (having misjudged their starting sequence), while the Governor powered over the start within a second or two of the horn.

Despite a valiant effort, the Honourable Chief Minister and his gallant crew were unable to regain the ground lost at the start. The second race went to His Excellency, Governor Thomas Macan!

The Tola Boat Shooutout in Road Harbour - August Festival, 2004
Tola Sloop Shootout in Road Harbour - August Festival, 2004

Read about "Vigilant" | BVI Festival Photos
Tortola Map | Photos of the British Virgin Islands

All photos of the Tortola Sloops are copyrighted by Bareboats BVI and may not be used on the internet without prior written consent.


For more information British Virgin Islands sailing charters and regattas,
Call or write our Tortola bareboat charter specialist!

Phone: (284) 495-4168 Tortola, British Virgin Islands
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Text & Photos Copyright © Bareboats BVI. All rights reserved.
Launched August 17, 2004 - Last Updated: January 27, 2014