The monsoon-like weather with torrential rain and big winds sweeping across Antigua today has done nothing to dampen the spirits of the competitors preparing for tomorrow's start
The monsoon-like weather with torrential rain and big winds sweeping across Antigua today has done nothing to dampen the spirits of the competitors flocking to English Harbour for the start of Antigua Sailing Week. If anything it’s raised the spirits with most of the crews from the 182 yachts moored up in the south of the island making the most of the extreme conditions and using it as the perfect excuse to head for an ‘earlier than usual’ afternoon visit to the bar. What state they’ll be in on the start line tomorrow for the opening Dickenson Bay race remains to be seen!
While some of the larger yachts such as the two maxZ86s – Roy Disney’s Pyewacket and Hasso Platner’s Morning Glory – and Mari-Cha are not at the event this year, there’s plenty of quality entries in the big boat racing classes including event favourite Titan 12 – Tom Hill’s Reichel Pugh 75 — who has Peter Isler at the helm.
Another one to watch is Peter Ogden’s new Swan 601, Spirit of Jethou, and fellow British competitor Erck Rickmers’ Swan 70 Flying Dragon. Sadly, Maximus, the new 100ft super-maxi which was being shipped out to Antigua to make her regatta week debut in preparation for next month’s Rolex Transatlantic race, has been delayed on a broken down ship so will no longer be able to make event.
The 14 teams who took part in the passage race from Guadeloupe to Antigua on Thursday suffered incredibly light winds which put paid to any chances of breaking Mari-Cha’s record time of two hours 18 minutes and 42 seconds set last year. The Dixon 65, Liara, took line honours but the overall winner was Top 50, a BOC Open 50, skippered by Guadeloupe’s Luc Coquelin. Swan 65 King’s Legend was second and Santa Cruz 70 Hotel California was third.
Following tomorrow’s Dickenson Bay race and the Virgin Atlantic beach bash, competitors will race, on Monday, back south round to Jolly Harbour. The Falmouth Harbour Race for division B will take place on Tuesday with Big Boats and Racing 3 racing the inaugural Yachting World Round Island Race. The remainder of Division A will race the South Coast Race. Lay-Day fun follows on Wednesday with beach-front antics at Pigeon Beach and a hockey tournament in Falmouth Harbour.
Thursday, the yachts are back on the ocean with Division A racing windward/leeward courses and Division B sailing the South Coast Race. Friday marks the last official day of racing with the Ocean Race. Saturday the prizegiving is preceded with third annual Bareboat Challenge Championship Race.
The Lord Nelson’s Ball and prizegiving at the Copper & Lumber Store wraps the event on Saturday evening.