Sir Richard Branson talks to Sue Pelling at the Virgin Beach Bash about his day on the racecourse at Antigua Sailing Week
Antigua Sailing Week’s Dickenson Bay Beach Bash after the first day’s racing has always been known for attracting more visitors than most Caribbean regattas put together. But today’s epic event sponsored by Virgin Atlantic saw an estimated 5,000 visitors flock to the west coast of the island to enjoy probably one of the best Dickenson Bay parties on record.
It is a day when not only the entire racing fleet and associated crews head for the beach but an occasion when the locals turn out in force to demonstrate how to party Antiguan style. And what a party it was!
Richard Branson, who’d been racing for the day aboard a 104ft cruiser-racer was enjoying the party as much as anyone even found time to tell Yachting World why he thinks this event is so special. “It’s the first time I’ve been to Antigua Sailing Week and it’s great. I was also lucky enough to sail today, We had a lovely sail and the boat reached speeds of up to13kts, although pretty much everything that could have gone wrong, went wrong. I’m sure the crew will get it right tomorrow!”
Not known for his attendance at sailing events it was interesting to find out what other sailing Branson does: “I sail Hobie Cats mainly but I’ve been lucky enough to sail aboard PlayStation with my good friend Steve Fossett on a 24-hour trip where we encountered a terrible storm. Otherwise I haven’t really done an awful lot of big boat sailing.”
And the best part of today’s racing? “The absolute best part was the start of the race which I always find incredibly exciting.”
Exciting too was Branson’s guest appearance in the Bath Tub Derby which ended up with him throwing his crew overboard and jumping ship himself. Not surprisingly he didn’t make it to the finals!