Day one of the 42nd Sailing Week was a perfect one with blue skies and staunch Easterly trades - here's the summary.
In pumping easterly trade winds and a coursing blue seaway, the 42nd edition of Antigua Sailing Week began with a single race for the Division A Racing fleets and the Division B classes of Performance Cruisers, Cruising fleets, Dragons and Multihulls. The rare Saturday start was the first of many new innovations for the 2009 running of the annual event. The four Bareboat charter classes that comprise the remainder of the 140-strong fleet begin their racing on Sunday.
Under the direction of a new race management team, the U.K.-based GWM Racing Ltd., competition got underway with a 12-nautical mile windward/leeward race for the Division A racers and a 14-nautical mile contest around a modified figure-eight course along the island’s south coast for the Division B sailors. An 18-20 knot northeasterly breeze, with gusts in the mid-20s, provided ideal conditions across the board for the respective divisions.
With Leopard’s pre-start withdrawal, the door was opened wide for Charles Dunstone’s TP 52, Rio, which drew first blood with an inaugural race victory in the four-boat class. In Racing 4, Jamie Dobb”s J/122, Lost Horizon?the Most Worthy Performer in last March’s St. Maarten Heineken Regatta?picked up where it left off with a Race 1 bullet in the 14-boat division.
On the Division B circle, principal race officer Peter Wykeham-Martin oversaw tight competition amongst the Performance Cruising 1, 2 and 3 fleets; the Cruising 1 and 2 classes; the one-design Dragon division; and the Cruising Multihull class. Veteran race official and Antigua Sailing Week arbitrator Arthur “Tuna” Wullschleger, a formidable and consistent presence at the event for over three decades, ably assisted Wykeham-Martin and his team.
“Over the years, the boats at Antigua have become more and more high-tech and sophisticated so the race committee has had to become more sophisticated,” said Wullschleger.
“It’s brilliant having ‘the Tuna’ aboard,” said Wykeham-Martin. “He’s a true observer and he constantly drops these little pearls of wisdom. He’s marvelous and I hope I’m doing just as well as he is when I’m his age.”
In Performance Cruising 1, Damon Guizot’s well-sailed Swan 53, Katrina?a Northern California-based entry sailing an extended Caribbean season after a transit of the Panama Canal, and ably navigated by Tom “The Curmudgeon” Leweck, the founding publisher of the well-known newsletter “Scuttlebutt”?kicked off the regatta with a victory in the 20-boat class, the event’s biggest.
The Performance Cruising 2 class appeared to be shaping up as a battle between two popular racer/cruisers, the Archambault 40 and the Beneteau First 40.7, with three and two entries, respectively. But a funny thing happened on the way to the winner’s circle, as Martin Jacobson’s Swan 44, Crescendo, took the opening salvo in the 10-boat class.
Another Swan, Richard Burbridge’s vintage S&S-designed 43-footer, Pavlova II, was the winner in the Performance 3 class. In the competitive, 14-boat Cruising 1 class, the Oyster 72, Spirit of Montpelier, with Oyster builder Richard Matthews at the helm and British sailing legend Harold Cudmore calling tactics, pulled the proverbial “horizon job” on its class to take the Race 1 victory.
In Cruising 2, local knowledge paid off in spades for Antiguan sailor Hugh Bailey and his talented team aboard the First 456, Hugo B, the day one victor. The Cruising Multihull class was won by Larry Pollock’s 54-foot trimaran, Running Cloud, a feat equaled by Compass Point in the long, lean Dragon fleet.
Pictured by Ted Martin: Pretty in Pink – The Simonis 56 Windemere III revels in the caribbean conditions