A Conversation with Jerome and Alec, Bitter End’s Departing and New Watersports Directors.
Bitter End is home to the Caribbean’s premier watersports program, and much of that is thanks to Jerome Rand, its fearless leader and champion for the past eight years. Under his watch, the sailing school was re-vamped, Corinthian re-powered, and Hobies rose to prominence. Now, he’s moving on to pursue the personal dream of sailing around the world solo and welcomes Alec Weatherseed in his stead. With over a decade of professional experience on the water, Alec is most recently the Sailing Director at Stamford Yacht Club and an avid kiteboarder. Both Jerome and Alec recently sat down to talk Bitter End and swap advice for their upcoming adventures.
Alec: So, I know we’re here to talk about Bitter End—but first, give us the scoop on your trip!
Jerome: My upcoming adventure is one that I have been thinking about for over 15 years, a solo sail around the world without stopping. I plan to leave Gloucester, Mass. around the end of October 2017 and sail south of Africa, Australia, New Zealand and Cape Horn. Then, I’ll return north without stopping until returning to Gloucester after 27,000 miles. It is one of the great challenges in the world of sailing and has been a dream of mine for a long time.
A: I certainly wish you the best of luck, mate. Any advice for me as the new guy on the island before you go?
J: Oh that’s easy—have fun! Bitter End has an incredible community, and I’m sure they’ll embrace you with open arms. When it comes down to it, after safety, fun is what everyone wants to have, whether it be sailing, snorkeling or just hanging out at the beach. Why, what do you see as your biggest challenge coming to Bitter End and the BVI?
A: Acclimating to the Caribbean climate? I’m coming from Connecticut after all. [ Laughs ] No, really, I’m looking forward to learning the ins and outs of island life. Discovering the secret spots, the local culture and island rhythm. Getting PADI certified!
J: Well I can tell you my favorite place to eat at Bitter End—at the West Indian BBQ, every Tuesday night in The Clubhouse. Fresh fish cooked perfectly, and all the sides and desserts you could ever want. Hands down the best.
A: I can’t wait. What do you think you’ll miss most about BEYC?
J: By far I will miss working with the entire team at BEYC. They are a community and a family that have welcomed me and made a place for me in their world. They have been my family for almost a decade. I have had the pleasure to work with all the departments at the Bitter End and have learned more than I could have ever imagined. I only hope that I have returned that as much as possible.
A: You certainly have, and you’ve done a fantastic job growing the watersports program. I know that was a key focus of yours.
J: Hey, thanks. What would you like to focus on once you get here?
A: Ultimately, I hope to continue your legacy, and ensure that our waterfront offerings are consistent with our guests’ needs and goals. Certain sports have really taken off in recent years—SUP boarding, kiteboarding. I want to focus on these younger sports to see how we can introduce them to a larger audience, plus maintain the world-class sailing programs and countless excursions synonymous with the Bitter End name.
J: The excursions! I’ll miss the excursions.
A: Do you have a favorite?
J: Definitely the Best of the BVI. You get to see almost the whole country while visiting some of the best snorkeling spots anywhere. Just being aboard the Corinthian and cruising the Drake Channel is one of the great experiences in the Caribbean. To me it is the full experience of the BVI. What about you, what drew you to the BVI and Bitter End?
A: The dream of living and working in a culture that thrives on wind and water sports, working with a passionate staff that shares a love of all things nautical and the amazing guests who are receptive to our enthusiasm for the sea!
J: I think that’s the most important aspect of the Bitter End watersports program, the way we engage and create a unique experience for our guests. We try to provide a very casual and energetic vibe on our beach. You only hear a Sir or Madam if it is called for, more often you will hear back and forth banter about past trips and experiences at the Bitter End, or funny stories about Hobie rescues and other crazy things that always happen on the water! It is truly a one-of-a-kind place and can be enjoyed by anyone. Ok, lightning round—what’s the weirdest thing you’re packing in your bag? Go.
A: Well, weird to most, but perhaps not weird at Bitter End—all my kites and boards. Since picking up the sport in Sri Lanka in 2012, it has changed my life. Favorite boat at Bitter End?
J: Ouch, like choosing a child! [ Laughs ] I have to say that I love sunset sails aboard the Paranda, ripping around Necker Island on a Hobie Getaway and taking in the end of the day with a gentle sail on our Sunfish. Where to find you when you’re not working?
A: Kiting, SUPing, relaxing in a hammock and planning my next adventure or project. Yoga treehouse studio, anyone?
J: Outside of work I think my favorite pastime would be going off to one of the many beaches in the North Sound and swimming in the warm water. Add a full moon or a starry night and you have one of the most beautiful settings in the world.
A: I’ll definitely add that to my list. Jerome, thank you for the energy you’ve infused into the BEYC watersports department during your eight years here. May your travels be fulfilling and your adventures plentiful. Sometime when you’re crossing the vast oceans and find yourself in the dead calm of night, with a cloudless sky above you, reflecting the infinite stars upon the water, please think of your friends at Bitter End and the great times shared. You will be missed.
J: It’s really been my pleasure, Alec. And I’m so grateful to be leaving the program in such capable hands. I know you’ll do great things here.