Marcus Wieser, one of the world's top match racers, was among the endless list of rockstars aboard the Swan 70 Flying Dragon at Antigua Sailing Week which concluded yesterday
The rain held off for the second day in a row and temperatures reached well in the 90s for the final day of Antigua Sailing Week. The wind, again from the south-east, was incredibly light at times causing frustration to those whose last race results rested upon it.
Flying Dragon, a Swan 70 owned by 41-year-old ship owner Erck Rickmers, competing in Big Boat Racing Class II, has been consistently finishing in fourth throughout the week, including Thursday’s Round the Island Race for the Yachting World Cup.
Marcus Wieser who was aboard Flying Dragon, acting as tactician and calling the shots for the owner who was helming reckons that fourth was basically their position for the week. Commenting Wieser said: “It’s a good boat but the those leading the fleet [Titan and Equation] were more racers than us so we couldn’t really expect much higher than fourth. And the Round the Island Race, which we particularly liked, well there really was no chance of us winning that on elapsed time. It was a shame because there were not many big boats here this year. That would have made the competition much more exciting.”
Chatting about the regatta in general and how it compares with the highly serious regattas he’s used to Wieser said: “This regatta is not on the highest level of racing but it’s fun sailing. Sometimes you can’t always sail seriously, you have to do some fun events too. If you only do serious sailing you lose concentration. I did however, find the heat totally exhausting. I’ve never been here before and coming here from the winter in Europe was hard. We were hiding in the shadow whenever we could.”
Wieser said he doesn’t know whether he’ll be here next year but what ever happens it won’t be on Flying Dragon because now this regatta is over she’s up for sale, “The owner is getting a bigger one – a Swan 100 which is still a cruising boat.”
As far as Wieser’s immediate sailing plans are concerned he says he has a busy schedule lined up, commenting: “My next next event is a little Dragon event in France and then I go to Germany for the Swedish Match Cup in two week’s time. Now there’s a German America’s Cup Challenge [announced yesterday] many of Germany’s good sailors will be involved in that. Maybe me, I don’t know yet.”
Harm Mueller Spreer – current European champion and three times winner of the Gold Cup in the Dragon class – is another superstar aboard Flying Dragon this week. Mueller Spreer who’s on mainsheet for the regatta was chatting about his sailing plans post Antigua too and says that most of his time will be taken up with the Transpac preparations. “Marcus and I are have a new boat designed by Rolf Vrolijk and having it built in Bristol USA and should have it by the end of this year. We’ll sail it in the Med next year, for the whole season. Now Germany has a challenge for the America’s Cup maybe some guys from that might come with us for training purposes. It’s a very competitive class so why not. If you sail against the best guys you get better.”
The up and coming Transpac European circuit is looking extremely promising with 12-14 boats estimated to turn out this year. Mueller Spreer added: “We’re expecting around 20 boats next year and around 12-14 boats this year. It’s attracting a lot of competitors from IMS class. This racing is more like Farr 40 racing with a box rule and is very close racing. The sail design is moreorless fixed, the length, weight and many of the measurements are fixed. There are so many different designs from all the top designers.”
Eduardo Valderas, who works with Bruno Peyron and is navigator aboard Orange II, has been Flying Dragon’s navigator this week. Commenting on this week’s conditions he said: “We’ve had all kinds of different wind from 4kts to 40kts. We had a tropical storm on the way here. As a navigator it has been fantastic weather to play with on the racecourse. The tide is just four metres so we don’t have to worry about that too much. Because we are always racing at a certain time of day the weather conditions are very similar every day which tends to make life fairly simple.”
In answer to what’s happened to Orange II now she broken the world crewed speed record? Valderas concluded: “Now that we’ve broken the record the boat has been taken apart until further notice.”
And Peyron’s plan? “The Oops Cup which starts at the end of May. We’ll be sailing it in a two-year-old upgraded trimaran – the sistership to Groupama.”