Sunday, April 30, 2017

Epic Fleet for Antigua Sailing Week

J/122 El Ocaso sailing Antigua (English Harbour, Antigua) – A staggering number of sailors from around the world are descending on the Caribbean island of Antigua to celebrate the 50th edition of Antigua Sailing Week. Over 150 teams racing on a huge variety of yachts will make this year’s event the biggest for many years. After the Guadeloupe to Antigua Race on Friday, April 28 and Saturday’s Peters & May Round Antigua Race, Antigua Sailing Week will begin on Sunday April 30.

About 1,500 competitors from 32 countries will enjoy five days of world-class racing, preceded by the Guadeloupe to Antigua Race and the Peters & May Round Antigua Race. Thousands more will join in the party celebrations, with seven beach days and party nights, including internationally acclaimed Damian Marley heading an all-star line-up for “Reggae in the Park” in the historic Nelson’s Dockyard.

Antigua sailing weekFor five days crews are challenged with a variety of coastal race courses (54 choices in all!) that encourage tacking duels around the buoys – all in the picture-perfect setting of the deep blue Caribbean Sea off Antigua’s south coast with the ever-present trade winds. The idyllic racing is enhanced by sailors retiring to Antigua Yacht Club for passionate post-race analysis and daily prize-givings that carry on into the evening.

152 teams from 28 nations are racing at Antigua Sailing Week from around the world.  Fourteen European countries are well-represented, including Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Great Britain, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, Norway, Sweden, Lithuania, Russia and Switzerland.  At least ten Caribbean island nations will be on the starting line, including Antigua, Saint Maarten, St Barths, Puerto Rico, St Thomas USVI, Tortola BVI, Trinidad, Barbados, Martinique, and Jamaica.  And, from the “America’s”, there are teams from Canada, USA, Mexico and Argentina.

J/Teams have a United Nations flavor to them, with ten J’s (about 11% of the 94 CSA Class keelboats) hailing from Europe, the Americas and the Caribbean!

J/122 Liquid sailing AntiguaIn the fourteen-boat CSA 4 Class, the on-going battle between the fleet-leading J/122s will continue- a drama-filled experience for both Pamala Baldwin’s LIQUID from Jolly Harbour YC in St Johns, Antigua and for Bob Hiller’s crew on EL OCASO from Lake Geneva YC in the American Midwest.  In their last encounter, Baldwin’s LIQUID team got the upper hand on EL OCASO, taking 2nd in Les Voiles de St Barths with EL OCASO 3rd.  Their biggest threat comes from a “new kid on the block”, an insanely experienced team on David Ballantyne’s J/133 JINGS/ JINGAROOS, a crew that hails from Cowes, England and have a lot of RORC offshore racing and Solent around-the-cans experience.  Fighting to stay in the hunt will be two J/120s, Ben Jelic’s JAGUAR from St Maarten and Tom Hawker’s SUNSET from Royal Victoria YC in British Columbia, Canada.

The ten-boat CSA 6 Class has two J/109s sailing that had flashes of brilliance at Les Voiles de St Barths.  Both boats are from St Barths, Sophie Olivaud’s ALBACOR IV and David Cullen’s POCKET ROCKET.  They will be up against a hot local J/105 from Barbados YC, Peter Lewis’ WHISTLER.

J/39 99 sailing AntiguaThe J/39 MICRON 99 OSSENFEFFER, sailed by Robbie Ferron from St Maarten YC, will be taking on the eight-boat CSA 7 fleet.  And, a famous Antiguan team lead by Tanner Jones from Jolly Harbour YC will be racing their equally famous J/30 BLUE PETER/ CARIBBEAN ALLIANCE INSURANCE against a dozen boats in CSA 8 class.

Interestingly, many sailors making a long journey to the 50th edition of Antigua Sailing Week will be from Australia, New Zealand and South Africa. The ten Australian crew racing the J/133, JINGS/ JINGAROOS have notched up 22 Sydney Hobart Yacht Races between them!!

“We are coming to Antigua to redeem the most coveted item on our collective sailing bucket list – Antigua Sailing Week!” explains ‘Aussie Jings’ Headsail Trimmer, Jasmine Hogg. “It is everyone’s first time here and I had no problem in persuading the motley crew to make the trip for my big birthday. We are all absolutely thrilled to be taking part.”

With Antigua Sailing Week celebrating 50 years, it is also of great importance to be looking forward, as well as remembering the past, hence this year’s mantra: Old Traditions, New Ways. Sailing is now a part of the school curriculum in Antigua & Barbuda and many young Antiguan sailors will be participating this year, racing with their heroes, but also learning how to win by themselves.   Sailing photo credits- Tim Wright/  For more Antigua Sailing Week information Add to Flipboard Magazine.