Titan 12 beaten by TP52 and Lolita the Swan 56 has to settle for fourth behind smaller boats including British Kerr 30/4/06

A light easterly breeze in scorching Caribbean sunshine greeted competitors for the opening day of Antigua Sailing Week which started today.

Nearly 200 boats made their way out of Falmouth Harbour for coastal racing which took the two divisions on courses in opposite directions halfway round the island to Dickenson Bay. In the Big Boat racing classes the 35-mile course, in the easterly direction, was the first of the two-leg Round the Island Race for the Yachting World Trophy which was last year won Tom Hill’s 75ft maxi yacht Titan 12.

Although the wind was variable and shifty failing to reach more than 12 knots throughout the day competitors were rewarded with a fantastic welcome to the Beach Bash when they arrived at Dickenson Bay during the early afternoon joining the thousands of locals, sailors and other visitors to the island who spent the afternoon enjoying what this regatta is so famous for – partying.

Chatting on the beach about today’s racing within Division A, Racing Class III Frank Savage, from the New York YC and owner of the six-year-old Swan 56 Lolita, said it was a tough opening race because it was so shifty: “The first leg was kind of tough and then the breeze picked up but it was incredibly varible. The premium was placed on crew work just watching the windshifts.”

Despite stomping home first across the line in her fleet however, it was the lighter weight, smaller boats that benefited from the light airs and Lolita had to settle for fourth overall. In first place was the Italian Swan 45 – DSK-Comifin, the British Kerr 11.3 skippered by Peter Rogers took second, and the American Melges 32 skippered by Tim Kimpton was third.

Although Lolita has won the regatta overall in the past Savage insists that today’s performance was typical of how his boat performs, commenting: “I’m very proud of the way the 17-strong crew worked today, but it was a typical Lolita performance, we always end up in the top three or four, consistently. We’re always in the hunt, so we had a wonderful day today.”

By talking to Savage it was obvious that Antigua Sailing Week is one of his favourite regattas, concluding: “I love this regatta more than any other regatta in the world. I just love the environment and the people. I feel really good being here. The only other regatta that even competes with this is the Swan Worlds in Sardinia.”

The results of the first stage of the Yachting World Round the Island race for the fastest elapsed time puts the TP52 Rosebud ahead of last year’s inaugural winner Tom and Dottie Hill’s maxi yacht Titan 12. Stage two of the Round the Island Race for the Yachting World Trophy takes places on Tuesday after tomorrow’s Jolly Harbour races.