Light winds make Sunday a long day on the water at Antigua Sailing Week

Today held much promise: the first day of all-class racing for this year’s Sailing Week, which includes the Yachting World Round the Island Race and the Dickenson Bay beach bash. But when competitors awoke this morning to rain and no wind, they knew it made the long day’s racing, even tougher. But by 0840, the time of the first cruising class start, conditions had improved, and by the time the big boys hit the line on the final start at 0925 there was a Northerly breeze of 10 to 12 knots to help them ply their way through over 100 boats in front of them.
Once again this the Antigua Sailing Week classes are split into two fleets – A and B – with the latter comprising cruising and performance cruiser classes, and the A fleet, the racing classes. The A fleet were taking part in the 50nm Yachting World round the island race today, and the B fleet sailing the 34nm round to Dickenson Bay. They’re long courses for all, but the B fleet are at least rewarded on arrival with a true Caribbean party, the Dickenson Bay Beach bash.
The duel between Tom Hill’s 75ft Reichel Pugh Titan 15 and the 72ft Ran belonging to Skype’s co-founder of Niklas Zennstrom promises to be a highlight of the week (although disappointing that Leopard’s decided to skip the week in preparation for a Transat record). Although Titan took first blood with line honours in the Round the Island Race to scoop the Yachting World trophy, by finishing six minutes later, Ran pipped them for points on corrected time (Titan give Ran over a minute an hour), with Lee Overlay beating fellow Cookson 50 Privateer to third. Having held the record up until last year in his previous boat Titan XII, Hill would have been wanting to re-gain the honour from current record holders Sojana (4 hours 37mins set last year), but in the light conditions, could only post 5 hours 19 mins for their circumnavigation.
Yet despite the power and glamour of seeing these two, plus Sojana, two Cookson 50’s and a TP52 in Racing 1, it’s already looking like the Racing 3 class will be the closest battle on the water. Richard Matthews signaled his intent early on Oystercatcher XXVI: with Andy Beadsworth calling tactics, the ex-owner of Oyster hit the startline perfectly, quickly opening up some breathing room between his Humphreys-designed 42 footer and the two J/122s, King 40 and Reichel Pugh 44 in his class. But the light conditions didn’t suit the planing boats so well, and it was the battle of the J’s as the locals on Lost Horizon missed out by an agonizing one minute to fellow J/122 Catapult from the US – now that’s good one design racing! Apparently Catapult waited for their competitors at the line and received were applauded for their win, so there’s friendly spirit in this rivalry.
The Beneteau 40.7s taking part in this class were among the eight boats not so happy this evening, as they missed the eight-hour time limit. Although it’s understandable that Race officer David Brennan wouldn’t want to stay on the water all evening, it’s unfair on those boats out on the water for such a long day not to receive their rightful positions – and not really in the spirit of a social regatta like this. As this is being written there is a protest for redress going on, which will hopefully rectify their rightful positions (Elandra for example sailed a cracking race, and would be third instead of ‘DNF’ with redress).
Either way, they’d surely prefer to be with the cruising division, who made it to Dickenson Bay this afternoon for a highly spirited (thanks to the ‘Rom Ponch’) party (see picture).

In Racing 2, Swan 56 Perseverance slightly mistimed their start and were recalled, watching On Deck’s Spirit of Minerva demonstrate a textbook start – proving having someone like Brian Thompson aboard does help. But it was Lindsey Duda’s Santa Cruz 52 that won class 2 on corrected time today.
The Performance Cruising 2 class was a masterclass in local knowledge: the top four boats Biwi Magic, Blue Peter, Streaker and Hugo B all come from the Caribbean, and proved their experience in the fickle conditions.
Stronger winds are forecasted for the rest of the week, so let the games continue…

For full race results see