Tom Hill's Titan storms away from the start line in the inaugural Yachting World Round Antigua Race today
At 0920 local time this morning the gun fired for the start of Yachting World’s inaugural Round Antigua Race. Having been postponed on Tuesday due to forecast light winds, competitors in the two eligible classes (Big Boat II and III) were relieved to wake this morning to find a fresh Antiguan breeze blowing in from the south-east.
The start, just to the west of English Harbour at Curtain Bluff, was set close to the shore allowing the 12-strong fleet to work their way towards the headland of Shirley Heights. As the fleet passed through the line the wind began to increase producing a shifty 15-18kts working breeze.
Not surprisingly the striking red-hulled 75ft Titan helmed by Peter Isler showed the fleet its intentions right from the start leaving Bill Alcott’s Andrews 68 instantly in her wake. In fact, on passing the headland at Shirley Heights Titan had already taken a three-minute lead. The crew aboard Peter Ogden’s Swan 601 Spirit of Jethou, and Flying Dragon, the Swan 70, also had to resign themselves to the fact that they probably wouldn’t see much of Titan once she’d got through.
It’s going to take the Titan – the fastest boat – at least four and a half hours to complete the 45-mile course and it’ll be five and a half hours at least before the slowest boats make it home, despite the freshening breeze.
So, at this stage it’s not too difficult to predict who’s going to take the Yachting World Trophy for the fastest elapsed time, but as with all racing it’s probably best not to start engraving the trophy yet, they still have 30 miles to go and with a freshening breeze, anything could happen! Chatting from the racecourse at 1130 local time, John Birk, who’s currently out there laying the marks, said: “I can just see the leaders on the horizon, spinnakers bellowing in the big breeze it looks like the red boat, Titan has an amazing lead probably about two miles over the second placed boat which I believe to be Equation. Must dash, need to lay the next mark!”
According to Birk they are currently flying towards Jobo mark – the northern turning point before heading off on a broad reach towards Sunsail (the approximate half way point).