Monday, April 25, 2016

Antigua Sailing Week Preview

J/11S sailing Antigua (English Harbour, Antigua)- Antigua Sailing Week started in 1968 when a group of friends got together to hold a regatta.  A number of the friends were hoteliers and part of their objective in creating the regatta was to extend the winter season by getting people to stay in Antigua a little longer – or to come specifically to participate in the event that would in turn extend the end of the current season.

Therefore, in 1968, the Antigua Hotel Association sponsored the very first Antigua Sailing Week that was held from the 8th through the 15th of June with participating boats from the United States, Canada and the Caribbean.  Festivities included a three-day ‘Lord Nelson Regatta’ with sailing yachts of up to 135-feet in length, power boat races, deep-sea fishing and Sunfish sailing contests.  There was also a two-day race among Antigua’s workboat fishermen whose boats had been freshly painted in bold Caribbean colors specifically for the event.

The Antiguan Government and Antigua Sailing Week Committee went to great lengths to welcome visitors and ensure they had a good time.  For those not on the water but looking for a way to be part of the action, there were beach and verandah parties from which the events could be observed.  Then, there was the truly infamous final awards party taking place in Nelson’s Dockyard with the Lord Nelson Costume Ball held on Saturday, June 15, 1968.

The inaugural Antigua Sailing Week was such a huge success that it was repeated for the following 47 years. The dates eventually changed and it became tradition for Antigua Sailing Week to officially begin on the last Sunday in April every year.

Recognized as one of the best sailing locations in the world, Antigua is bracing itself for an influx of sailors and yachts from at least 22 two different countries. The largest number of yachts by country will be Great Britain joined by crews from Antigua, Australia, Austria, Brazil, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Ireland, Italy, Lithuania, Netherlands, Poland, Russia, St. Maarten, South Africa, Sweden, Trinidad and the United States of America. Over 1,000 sailors will be making the journey to the mecca of Caribbean sailing for a week of superb racing and fantastic parties.

A full week of racing starts on Sunday, April 24 and concludes Friday, April 29. Racing takes place around laid marks and point-to-point courses in the world famous sailing grounds off the south coast of Antigua. Daily prize givings are held at the Presidente Beer Garden at Antigua Yacht Club, which provide great opportunities for sailors to meet other teams. The Final Awards Presentation and after party is held in the historic surroundings of Nelson’s Dockyard. Wednesday, 27 April is the Presidente Lay Day Beach Party with fun and games on Pigeon Beach.

The regatta has always attracted the big entries, and this year’s current list includes 28 competing yachts at 50 feet and over. The entry list is bristling with proven winners including 2016 St. Maarten Heineken Regatta winner EL OCASO, the J/122 sailed by Rick Wesslund’s team from Miami.  For Antigua, EL OCASO will be sailed by a hot crew from the United Kingdom- Chris Body’s team from Royal Southern YC on the Hamble.  Joining them in CSA Racing 5 division will be another J/122- Pamala Baldwin’s LIQUID from Jolly Harbour YC.  In addition, two other U.K. crews will be on the starting line; David Ballantyne’s J/133 JINGS! from the Royal Ocean Racing Club on the Isle of Wight and Andy Middleton’s J/120 PERFORMANCE YACHT RACING “SUNSET” from Cowes, I.O.W.

CSA Racing 6 division has a trio of J/Teams up against a dozen other contenders, Jonty Layfield’s new J/11S from Antigua YC, Robbie Ferron’s J/39 MICRON 99 OSSENFEFFER from St Maarten YC, and Joe Da Ponte’s J/44 ZAFU 444 from Vancouver Rowing Club in West Vancouver, BC.

A classic J/35 is sailing in CSA Racing 7 class, Remco van Dortmondt’s SUNBELT REALTY DASH from Willemstad, Curacao and in CSA Racing 8 will be the famous J/30 BLUE PETER sailed by Tanner Jones from Jolly Harbour YC on Antigua.  Sailing photo credit- Tim Wright/  For more Antigua Sailing Week information