The British Virgin Islands are a group of over 50 islands in the Caribbean (about 15 of them are inhabited). They are a perfect destination for Stand Up Paddling: the temperature is 25-30°C year round, the water is equally warm and turquoise, the scenery is spectacular. Most islands are within paddling distance of each other and it’s a great place for downwinders, too.

Once of the best ways to see everything of interest in a short time and get to paddle the most awesome routes is to participate in the HIHO Race.


What is the HIHO?

The weeklong event offers a wonderful combination of adventure, racing and island discovery. Your home will be a luxury captained catamaran supplied by The Moorings. In the company of participants from around the World you will begin an odyssey through the beautiful British Virgin Islands. The HIHO fleet will visit Virgin Gorda, Anegada, The Baths, Beef Island, Sandy Cay, Jost Van Dyke, and more.

How does it work?

There are 2 different race classes, the Fanatic Ray one design class for novice and intermediate paddlers and the Open Class on 14’ Race boards. Typically, there is a race every morning (shorter distance for one design, longer distance for the open class) with the finish on some stunning location where lunch is served (last year this included on stop Sir Richard Branson’s famous Neckar island). Then the afternoon is free to explore the scenery, embark on a downwind paddle or relax. Shortly before sunset it is time to head back to the Yachts, which will take the riders to yet another stunning location for dinner. Here are some pics from a nice Downwinder there last summer.
What is the highlight of SUP Racing?
Highlight is the Painkiller Cup on Saturday, a 12-16 mile downwind race team race from Tortola to Jost van Dyke with a whopping US$10000 prize money. The events simple rules stipulate that each team of three must include at least one female paddler, and the maximum board size is 14 feet. The report from last year’s painkiller cup is here.
What is the accomodation like?
It’s no secret that one of the best parts of the annual HIHO Race is the luxurious Moorings yacht accommodations. The bulk of the fleet will be domiciled aboard 46ft air-conditioned catamarans. Spacious and fast under sail, catamarans are ideal for watersports vacations in that they offer plenty of room for boards and other gear. The yachts include an experienced captain who will sail the boat while you race from island-to-island. The yachts include a complete kitchen, 4-cabins with adjoining bathrooms (called heads) plus stereo systems and a flat screen TV. There is also a dinghy and required safety gear.
I want to bring by friend/family but they don’t paddle?
Aside from SUP, there are also Kite and Windsurf Races. If they want to give SUP a go, the BVI are the perfect place to learn and the Open Class races are suitable for beginners. But even without participating in the races, they will never get bored, there is so much to see and do, swimming, snorkeling, exploring the islands, pirate parties….
What will the 2013 Itinerary look like? Will it be the same as 2012?
The beauty of this race is that it will take you to different places every year. This year it will stop at Anegada for example. Here is a first draft of the 2013 itinerary:
Friday, June 28
Container open – competitors can collect equipment
Sunday, June 30
Registration at The Moorings – Board yachts – Afternoon departure for North Sound, Virgin Gorda
Monday, July 1
Racing in Eustatia Sound – Dinner in the North Sound
Tuesday, July 2
Anegada race – Dinner and dancing at Anegada Reef Hotel
Anegada is the northernmost of the British Virgin Islands, a group of islands which form part of the archipelago of the Virgin Islands. It lies approximately 15 miles (24 km) north of Virgin Gorda. Anegada is formed from coral and limestone, rather than being of volcanic origin. While the other islands are mountainous, Anegada is flat and low. Anegada is known for miles of white sand beaches and the 18-mile (29 km)-long Horseshoe Reef, the largest barrier coral reef in the Caribbean, and the fourth largest on earth. It is also famous for it’s lobster.
Wednesday, July 3
Morning racing & kitesurfing – Afternoon yachts race to The Baths – Dinner at the stunning beach club setting of Coco Maya
The Baths are a sublime jumbled collection of sky-high granite boulders by the sea. The rocks are made of volcanic java from about 70million years ago and form a series of grottoes that fill with water and shafts of kaleidoscopic sunlight and look truly otherworldly.
Thursday, July 4
Race to Beef Island – Pirate party at The Last Resort
Friday, July 5
10.000 US$ Painkiller Cup – lunch at Soggy Dollar Bar – Dinner and dancing on Jost Van Dyke
On Friday the painkiller Cup will take place. A 12-15 mile downwind race with an awesome finish at Jost van Dyke’s infamous “Soggy Dollar” bar, which takes it’s name from the sailor’s swimming ashore to spend wet bills. It’s also the bar that invented the painkiller, the BVI’s delicious, yet lethal cocktail of rum, coconut, pineapple orange juice and nutmeg.
Saturday, July 6
Racing at Little Thatch – Awards ceremony at The Moorings Sunday, July 7 Departures

How to get to the the BVI?
You will have to find a flight to Beef Island. From Europe, you can fly with KLM or Air France to Saint Martin and then connect to Beef island via Liat, or you can fly in via Puerto Rico or the US Virgin Islands (St. Thomas), typically with American Airlines

Find a cheap flights with Skyscanner

Further information and registration (save 10% when registering by November 30th)