Andrew Pindar chats to Sue Pelling about his debut on one of his own raceboats at Antigua Sailing Week 26/4/06

A total of 183 yachts have signed up for this year’s Antigua Sailing Week that starts on Sunday 30 April.

Now in its 39th year and sponsored by Rolex this year’s event promises to be one of the best yet with some of the world’s top sailors preparing themselves for a week of exciting racing.

Among the largest entries are two boats from the UK,Nephelethe Frers 112 owned by William Ainscough, andSojanaPeter Harrison’s Farr 115 which last year completed the Rolex Transatlantic Challenge and won the Antigua Megayacht Challenge.

Among the big fleet of Swans competing there’s the Swan 68 Chippewa owned by Clay Deutch of Newport Rhode Island which will be racing in the Big Boat Racing class againstNumbers, the Farr 60 owned by Dan Myers and Frank Savage’s Swan 56Lolita, 2005’s Antigua Sailing Week overall regatta winner.

Other notable entries in the Big Boat Racer/Cruiser Class areStarr Trail, Robert Mulderig’s Farr 72 from Bermuda andManu, the Swan 70 owned by Holger Boehres from the Cayman Islands.

Big British boats to keep an eye on are Andrew Pindar’s two yachtsPindar AlphaGraphicsthe Open 60, and the Volvo 60Pindar. For this regattaPindar AlphaGraphicswill have among the crew leading British yachtsmen Brian Thompson and Alex Thomson, with Thomson racing the boat in the Guadeloupe-Antigua Race which starts tomorrow.

Pindarthe Volvo 60 skippered by Round the World sailor Loz Marriott is also due to arrive into Dickenson Bay tomorrow.

Interestingly Andrew Pindar – Chairman of the Pindar Group and owner of the two Pindar yachts – will be competing in Antigua on one of his yachts for the first time ever and says he’s really looking forward to the challenge. “It’s quite a novelty,” said Pindar, “I been fortunate to sail other glamorous boats such asMaiden II, the giant cat, andMari-Charon one off events, but never have I completed a series aboard my own boat. So I thought what I really needed to do, was get the boats across to Antigua and actually campaign the full week with me onboard; unheard of!”

For Pindar this is also the ideal opportunity to use his boats for corporate entertaining and give Nick ‘Nobi’ Black, the Open 60 boat captain, a chance to skipper the boat. Pindar continued: “Nobi is a professional sailor in his own right but spends his entire life preparing the boat for other people to go racing, so this will make a big change for him.”

From Antigua the Open 60 will be taken up the east coast of the USA to compete in the Newport-Bermuda Centenial Race on 16 June with Andrew Pindar once again part of the crew. Pindar added: “The ocean crossing to Antigua will be made up of a mixed crew also including Loz Marriott. There are one or two people we owe sailing days to from charity things who’ve said they’d much rather do an ocean crossing than just go out for a day so we’ll be offering the odd place onboard.”

The plan after Bermuda is for Mike Sanderson, once he’s completed the Volvo Ocean Race aboard the leading yachtABN AMRO 1, to bring the boat back to the UK. According to Pindar Sanderson wants to do another ocean crossing on her before the Route du Rumb in November.

Looking further ahead to the future of the Open 60 it seems that although Pindar has plans he’s quite happy with the situation of where the boat’s at right now. The next stage of evolution is likely to be before the Barcelona World Race. Pindar continued: “We know that the Open 60 we have at the moment is there or thereabouts the fastest in the world. Moose [Sanderson] has done a lot of study as to its performance against the others. At some point someone else will come up with something quicker but they’ll be slower initially before they learn to get them to be quicker? at the moment we would be foolish to change it because it’s the fastest we can get. But there will be the next stage of evolution so we will be looking to that. Probably in time for the Barcelona World Race.”

And looking ahead to the start of this Sunday’s Antigua Sailing Week and what competitors are likely to expect, Pindar concludes: “?Antigua Sailing Week must be one of the most fun but hard racing regattas to get involved in. The breezes off Antigua are strong so it does test boats and people but there’s a very fun, relaxed atmosphere. It’s one of the pinnacle gold regattas to go to, and being at the end of the Caribbean season it’s one where everyone’s ready for a big blow out… see you there.”