British team's effort to race their own boat in Antigua results in top position at Sailing Week 5/5/06

The British team aboard the Kerr 11.3 Highlife competing at Rolex Antigua Sailing Week have been enjoying some superb racing within Racing Class II. In fact going into the penultimate day’s racing they were leading the class which comprises a selection of Swans including Frank Savage’s Swan 56 Lolita, Murka 2 and DSK Comifin – a couple of new Swan 45s.

Owned jointly by Peter Rogers and Roger Duckworth and shipped over from the UK especially for the event Highlife has really shown her true colours at this regatta and is proving to be reasonably difficult to beat particularly on the downwind legs.

Although designed under the IRM rule, and she rates fairly well under IRC, Highliffe is racing this regatta under the CSA (Caribbean Sailing Association) rules. Commenting Rogers said: “The CSA rating system is a bit of a novelty. First of all we got rated under CSA symmetrics and then we did the BVI with that rating. I asked the measurer to give us a measurement under asymmetric but we came out quite a few points lower which surprised us, so we’re racing here with asymmetrics which I think is probably a wise choice bearing in mind the sort of courses.”

For non-professional sailors shipping a boat out to Antigua for Sailing Week is a big commitment but Rogers who’s raced here several times aboard charter yachts decided to take the plunge this year and make the commitment. Rogers said: “The problem with charter boats is that the boat’s unfamiliar and you’re never going to get the best suit of sails or equipment. For us bringing our own boat was the only option if we intended to succeed.”

According to Rogers shipping the boat to Miami was the best option and then sailing it down to Antigua. They even managed to slip in a couple of other regattas – Key West (finishing second overall) and the BVI Spring Regatta – along the way.

“The cost of shipping of course is not cheap but if you ship as deck cargo with the rig up the total transportation cost is approximately £20,000. “We bought her out as deck cargo with the rig up,” added Rogers. “If you take the rig out you risk getting it damaged so you’re better off coming out as deck cargo. We shipped her to Miami and a couple of guys took it to Key West, did that and then four of us bought it over to the BVIs, it took us eight days, we had 45 plus knots of breeze, 20 ft waves so it was a fairly hairy 1,200-mile trip and, we did it all in one go.”

From Antigua Sailing Week Highlife will be shipped back from Miami at the end of May and should arrive in the UK at the beginning of June to catch the back end of some of the IRM events. She’ll then be racing at Cowes Week and Rogers is keen to defend last year’s Dartmouth Regatta win by competing again this year.

And Antigua Sailing Week next year? “Too right, I love this event and I will be back, hopefully with our own boat again, next year.”