Unseasonably light wind played havoc with the racing on the second day of Antigua Sailing Week

The weathermen struck for the second day of racing in Antigua Sailing Week 2005. Unseasonably light wind postponed the races for Division A and B fleets for an hour and while it eventually filled in enough to start races, it never really held.

On the Division A course – further out to sea than Division B – the wind was in the region of 8 knots and 220 degrees. By the time the start sequence had completed the wind had dropped to four knots. When the racing was finally abandoned for the day, the wind was down to two knots and had shifted to 340 degrees – it reached all other directions in between. Titan XII was 300 yards from the finish when the first race was abandoned due to the wind shifts. Yachts heading to, and from, the leeward mark with their spinnakers up was the clincher for the race committee.

Further inshore, Division B sat in rain, which took the wind with it. The rain held off until the fleet had rounded the marks off Blue Waters on the north-west tip of Antigua. After an unusual spinnaker run to these marks, the fleet was heading back on an equally unusual beat when the heavens opened and the wind disappeared. The fleet sat bedraggled looking for wind, facing each and every direction. This same rainsquall, which had headed up along Antigua’s coast from the south, hit the committee boat on Division A from the north. The yachts in Division B slowly escaped the wind vacuum and the race committee shortened the course.

Although it looked like a lottery on the water, a number of class winners yesterday also won today including Dasian, Mustang Sally, Nanuk, Justice, Seabiscuit and Durley Dene. Those that headed inshore got the wind when it returned first. “We just kept trickling along. A lot of the others just parked up,” said Ollie Alsop, crew member on Durely Dene.

Another boat to head inshore was Dufour 47, SAP Lycee Blanchet. This yacht, crewed by students, and skippered by their teacher, was dragged kicking and screaming from the bareboat class into Performance Cruiser III. Never having flown a spinnaker before, this crew placed sixth yesterday but racked up a first today.

“The rain and wind went left and right and we played good,” said skipper Frederic Fernandez. “After the rain came, everyone took their spinnakers down but we kept ours for three or four minutes more. During the rain we stayed in the right direction for the next buoy and we had a little wind, but enough, to go on. After we go to the left, inshore, we kept the wind and doubled [the distance] on all boats. We stayed in the wind but we were a little bit lucky.”

None of the old-hands that have run Antigua Sailing Week were able to recall a similar race day for the event. “Late-80s or early-90s” was as close as it got.

An early decision by the race committee cancelled the inaugural Yachting World Round Island Race. The yachts in Big Boat Racing II and Racing 3 will now join the rest of the Division A fleet on the South Coat Race tomorrow. However, the wind is expected to swing back to an easterly and settle back to more typical Antigua Sailing Week conditions for the last part of the event.


Division B, Race 2A

Performance Cruiser I – Dasian, Swan 75, Danilo Salsi, Italy

Performance Cruiser II – Shamrock, J/120, Tom Mullen, BVI

Performance Cruiser III – SAP Lycee Blanchet, Sunfast 37, Frederic Fernandez, Guadeloupe

Cruising I – Mustang Sally, Farr 46, Warren Batt, Australia

Cruising II – Arawa, Columbia 50, Doug DeCluitt, USA

Bareboat II – Nanuk of the North, Beneteau 50, Patrick Festing-Smith, Canada

Bareboat III – Dill, Dufour 50, Jan Soderberg, USA

Bareboat IV – Justice, Beneteau 47, Justin Barton, USA

Bareboat V – Seabiscuit, Sun Fast 37, Pat Nolan, British Virgin Islands

Bareboat VI – Durley Dene, Bavaria 36, Alsop Thompson, British Virgin Islands