Crosswind Paddle Company partners Alex and Colin looked forward to the 2020 Painkiller Cup in the British Virgin Islands for the better part of a year. It had been a goal of ours to make trip to the beautiful British Virgin Islands to compete in the infamous Painkiller Cup Paddle Race. The Painkiller Cup is an annual race that centers around a 14 mile team relay race and also includes the Mini Painkiller Cup, a 3.5 mile solo race which goes from Sandy Cay to the famous island of Jost Van Dyke.
We put in hard work all season and our goal became a reality when we booked two flights from Richmond, VA to Tortola, BVI. After arranging race board rentals, an Airbnb on a docked catamaran, and a trip aboard the Rebel Yell sail boat from the main island of Tortola to the starting point at Sandy Cay, all that was left to be done was to enjoy a beautiful island race down in the Caribbean.
Once on the island, we were left in awe of the pure beauty and sense of calm of the British Virgin Islands. The first full day we rented a Jeep and did some exploring around Tortola. The views from driving around the outer ring of the island were stunning and our first stop was to the popular beach of Smuggler's Cove. Having a couple drinks on the beach relaxing we ran into John and Stephanie, two racers also participating in the Mini Painkiller Cup who had just picked up their rental boards from BVI SUP Company and were going out on a paddle. After talking shop and watching them paddle, they were gracious enough to let us go out on pre-race paddles ourselves. We spent the rest of the day sightseeing and stopping into a few bars and meeting the wonderful locals. Everyone we met had friendly personalities and big smiles, which made our experience very welcoming.
Race day came quickly as we walked over to Nanny Cay Marina, loaded up our boards and equipment and boarded the Rebel Yell catamaran with the other racers. What caught our eye first and foremost was windy conditions and heavy seas that day. Bumping up and down and holding on tight as we left Tortola and headed to Sandy Cay definitely had us a little nervous of what typically is a calm and paddle friendly location. Starting at Sandy Cay, which is nothing but a very tiny island with one beach and a small forest, it was definitely one of the most interesting SUP race starts of our young careers. The conditions were undoubtedly tougher than anyone had expected as heavy swells and white caps engulfed our boards during the open ocean section. We paddled hard and many people including ourselves fell in a couple of times due to the rough conditions, but at the end of the race landing on the beaches of beautiful Jost Van Dyke and drinking a few cold Painkiller's made it all worth it. The rest of the afternoon was spent enjoying a hearty meal at Heindo's Hideout and cheering on our fellow paddlers at the award ceremony.
The 2020 Painkiller Cup and Crosswind's BVI trip was short and sweet but was definitely one for the books and we highly recommend this race to any other avid paddlers. We look forward to continuing our success as a small business in Richmond, VA and are excited for what the next Crosswind Paddle trip will entail.
- Alex & Colin