Squally conditions and rogue waves for the Yachting World Round Antigua race



Saturday 28 AprilYachting World Round Antigua Race

There was drama right from the start of the 2012 Yachting World Round
Antigua Race
: Squally conditions intensified the trade winds to churn
up the swell into a foaming powerful sea state with rogue waves reaching
over three metres. The feisty conditions caused at least two
retirements due to gear failure. Allyn Salomon’s Beneteau Oceanis 473,
Hermosita suffered a damaged rudder and South African Jan Rupert entry,
Tripp 75 Blackbird was another casualty. The Mini Maxi suffered a ripped
mainsail as the mighty yacht pounded through the surf. This was much to
the frustration of the crew including David Glenn, Editor of Yachting
World who had joined Blackbird for the day.


In CSA 3 two Antiguan yachts came to the fore. Stephen Carson’s
Dehler 34 Hightide was the eventual winner, but Tanner Jones’ J/30 Blue
Peter raced with great aplomb in difficult conditions to claim second.
Rick Gormley’s First 38, Elethea was third.


In CSA 2 First 40, Smile and Wave, skippered by Mario Martinez won by
less than two minutes on corrected time from Nick Burns’ First 40,
Lancelot II. Matthew Shafer’s First 40.7 Cheeki Rafiki was third.


The Yachting World Round Antigua Race was quite an experience for the
crew of Smile and Wave, as Jaime Torres explains: “Mario Martinez is
skipper for the week and our only real preparation for this race was to
sail to the start line, but the team did exceptionally well. However, I
didn’t take into account Sunken Rock off Indian Creek and as a result we
hit. Nobody was hurt and we continued racing, but the error let
Lancelot get away and we could only match them for speed downwind around
the windward side. However, we played the shifts well on the beat to
finish and managed to make a big gain. I have to say I am really looking
forward to Sailing Week, I am sure we are going to have a great battle
with Lancelot.”


In CSA 1, Peter Harrison’s Farr 115, Sojana got a great start and
powered away upwind as a torrent of spray engulfed the magnificent
ketch’s bow. Working the maneuvers on Sojana is a skillful and hugely
energetic team effort, which is fraught with danger and later in the
race that peril was to manifest itself in no uncertain terms.


Sojana had a cracking race, touching close to 20 knots of boat speed
down the windward side of Antigua. Crew work had to be slick, even on a
long race, corners come up alarmingly fast and with pressure loads
measured in tens of tons, even a small error can be a real problem. One
hyper gust sent Sojana’s enormous spinnaker bellowing to leeward, the
main sail boom perilously close to digging a sizeable whirlpool into the
hissing blue water, the big ketch was pushing hard.


With just nine miles to go, Sojana needed to average 10 knots to
break the record when foredeck crew Maurice Belgrave fell off the bow to
leeward. With Poul Hoj-Jensen at the helm, Sojana pulled off a text
book recovery. Without using the engine, Maurice was in the water for
less than five minutes before the bow crew plucked him to safety,
pulling Maurice out of the water and up a full three metres of
freeboard. Apart from a small gash, he was unharmed in the incident,
which is a credit to the entire crew of Sojana.


“Maurice usually dives the boat so it was no big surprise!” Joked
Sojana’s skipper Marc Fitzgerald after the race. “To be fair, I don’t
think we would have broken our record even if Maurice hadn’t gone for a
swim. That time set in 2009 was a very good one and today, the square
beat to finish meant a lot of tacking to stay out of the tide and I
think that is where we fell behind, but we are delighted that Maurice is
fine and it is great to start the week by winning the Yachting World


Despite Sojana’s excellent efforts, on corrected time the German
Tripp 56, Passion 4C steered by Admiral’s Cup winner, Stefan Lehnert
corrected out to win CSA 1 by just over two minutes with Sojana second.
Hector Velarde’s Peruvian NM92, Locura was third.


Tonight the Antigua Sailing Week Welcome Party kicks off in Nelson’s
Dockyard. With the official English Harbour Rum caps being distributed
and entertainment courtesy of the Vision Band and DJ Prebble. It is sure
to be a great night in historic surroundings.


Tomorrow marks the start of the 45th Antigua Sailing Week with racing
for all classes. The forecast conditions are for a full on foam up for
the first day of the Caribbean’s most famous regatta.

To read more on Antigua Sailing Week, including the latest news, galleries and blogs, visit our Antigua Sailing Week homepage.

Photos courtesy Tim Wright (www.photoaction.com)