Spectacular race conditions greeted the well-rested fleet at Day 4 of Rolex Antigua Sailing Week 5/5/06

Spectacular race conditions greeted the well-rested fleet yesterday at Rolex Antigua Sailing Week for the fourth day of the regatta. Steady, 12 to 16 knot wind and sunshine created another picture-perfect day. Despite fairly light wind for Antigua – many competitors here talk of years past seeing wind in the high 20s – competitors reveled in the conditions and turned in solid performances.

Both Divisions started and finished the South Coast Race just outside Falmouth Harbour and were treated to an approximately 20-mile race along the rocky shores with distant views of neighbouring island sisters Montserrat, St Kitts and Nevis. “Everything comes down to tomorrow’s race,” said Spirit of the North’s Chris Hanson of the competition in Cruising I class. “Southern Dream (the Beneteau 50 owned by Jim Flanagan of the US) won the first two races and we’ve won the second two, and at the moment we are leading the fleet.”

Although many of the boats in this class were involved in some congestion at the start, Derek Waiter’s London-based Bavaria 49 found its way to a good overall race. “It was a fetch to the first mark, when it should have been a beat. Then the wind came round again by the time we got to the next mark and we had a nice spinnaker leg. During that leg, Ikra II (Hakan Norberg’s Preles 72 from Norway) caught up to us and just got by us at the finish.” Among Spirit of the North’s crew is skipper Owen Parker, noted captain of Morning Cloud, former British Prime Minister Sir Edward Heath’s entry in the 1979 Sydney Hobart Yacht Race.

Typical of the enthusiastic competitors found at this year’s regatta, Abid Hussain from San Francisco couldn’t keep the huge smile off of his face moments after returning to the dock from racing in Bareboat IV class. “This regatta is fun because you have all of these different classes and different levels of ability on every boat,” said the young sailor who chartered the boat along with friends from the Bay Area and Greece. “We are in the middle of our class. There are the top boats and the bottom boats and we are one of five in the middle. We are all within a couple of minutes of each other and we’re always near each other in the standings. It is great sailing!”

With another win yesterday, Tom Hill’s Titan 12 from Puerto Rico continues to lead Racing Big Boat I class over Rosebud, the TP52 owned by Roger Sturgeon of the US. Additionally, Titan is leading its fleet – a combination of its own class combined with Racing III – with Rosebud in second.

The winner of Racing III was Crash Test Dummies, Tim Kempton’s Melges 32 from Trinidad. A battle among the two Swan 45s, the Italian DSK-Comifin, owned by Danilo Salsi and Murka 2, owned by Nikhail Mouratov of Russia, with noted professional sailor Chris Law onboard.
Today’s final race, the Ocean Race, will take place off the south end of the island and decide the fate for many classes.
For results go to: www.sailingweek.com.