Peter Ogden's reconfigured Swan 601 Spirit of Jethou puts up good performance on opening day of Antigua Sailing Week

In total contrast to yesterday’s interesting, monsoon-like weather competitors in the 183-stong fleet enjoyed classic Antigua conditions for the opening day of 38th Antigua Sailing Week today.

A stiff breeze from the south-east reaching 18-20 knots at times gave crews plenty to think about as they headed off from the start line from English Harbour round to Dickenson Bay on the west coast. The course for Division A which included the Big Boat racing classes took the fleet on a fairly short initial leg out to the east to a turning mark off Shirley Heights.

In the fantastic conditions on a mainly downwind course, it wasn’t surprising to see Titan XII, the Reichel Pugh 75 skippered by Tom Hill taking an early lead off the start line notching up a five-minute advantage over Peter Ogden’s one-year-old Swan 601, Spirit of Jethou at the first mark. Titan extended her lead, revelled in the downwind surfing conditions and took line and overall honours. Spirit of Jethou, which has just been reconfigured with a new keel and new rudders really did give Titan a run for her money but didn’t quite make the grade today once Equation had broken through, and had to settle for third on corrected time.

Chatting just after the finish at Dickenson Bay, Ogden said: “We had a great start but on the run down to Dickenson Bay Equation was a lot quicker than us so she passed us. We sailed down to the last mark in third and then Flying Dragon overtook us but we beat them on corrected time. She’s a great boat and the reconfiguration of the keel and rudders seems to have really made a difference. The builders basically put another half a ton of lead in the keel and increased the size of the rudder.”

Ogden, who’s been racing at Antigua Sailing Week for many years says that Antigua Sailing Week is great regatta but more fun than serious, although he’s not ruling out notching up some good results throughout the week. Unfortunately, however, bearing in mind the speed of Titan he doesn’t hold up much hope of scooping the inaugural Yachting World Round the Island Race. “The Yachting World Round Antigua Island Race on Tuesday for the fastest elapsed time is a really great idea and I’m really looking forward to a good blast but the chances of us taking home the silverware are incredibly slim.”

After Antigua Ogden says he’s shipping the Swan back to the UK to prepare for full schedule of offshore regattas he has lined up. He concluded: “I brought the boat over [to Antigua] on the ARC and that really was fun. Ten days went so fast. I plan to do Cowes Week, Round the Island race, Fastnet, the Middle Sea Race from Malta, then take her across to the States and maybe do Key West. Then next year the Newport-Bermuda, the Giraglia Rolex Cup, and hopefully finish off with the Sydney Hobart which will mean we’ve done all the big races.”