Drama in Antigua

Despite more perfect sailing conditions reports Alaistair Abrehart

Wednesday April 30th 2003, Author: Alaistair Abrehart, Location: Caribbean
Day three of Antigua Sailing Week saw lighter winds ­ 18 knots dropping to 14 as division A completed their last downwind leg ­ but another beautiful day of Caribbean sailing as the fleet headed back to the south coast of Antigua and Nelson¹s Dockyard and Falmouth Harbour.

After the start gun, division A had a fetch to buoys off of the north east coast of Antigua, followed by a reaching leg back out to sea, a beat down the west coast and Cades Reef, a dog leg into Curtain Bluff followed by a beat out to a mark called Shirley off the south east of Antigua and Shirley Heights with a downwind leg to the finish off English Harbour. Division B followed a very similar course without the dogleg and final beat out to Shirley.

As the fleet headed south it was met by shifty and gusty conditions as the offshore wind funneled down valleys and round hills with 30-degree oscillations. The only thing to be done was be prepared for the radical shifts and adapt where possible. Many a boat carrying a spinnaker lost control but no knockdown broaches were witnessed. Kites went up, kites came down and numerous boats including Equation and Favonious didn¹t attempt to fly their kites at all ­ and may have paid the price.

Clay Deutsch's Swan 68 Chippewa ­ and one of the kite flyers - had a great day winning the big boat class and put itself at the top of this class after three days of racing and two points ahead of second-placer Sotto Voce, the favourite to win coming in to this regatta. Favonious placed second and Equation was last giving them a tie for third place.

Frank Savage's Swan 56 Lolita had another storming day racking up another win, cementing its lead in racing II and fleet. Vellamo 2 is four points behind with Blue three behind her.

The super-competitive 15-boat racing III had an exuberant start line which saw a number of boats forced out at the committee boat end. The antics resulted in a general recall for the class. Antigua's Caccia Alla Volpe and Near Miss were neck and neck down the first reaching leg but the higher rated Near Miss crossed the line after Caccia and received a third for the day with Reflex 38 Irish Intuition second.

In racing sport boat home town Huey managed to wrestle top place back from the Beneteau 38 Credit Moderne.

Starr Trail racked up another win while Swan 62 Constanter ­ tying for first place yesterday - is out of the running with a broken boom today. Liara has now filled the second place slot with pocket maxi Helsal 2 third.

Spirit of Minerva retired with an injured crewmember as did Gibian with a damaged mainsail.

Tazani, the Swan 59, bulleted racer/cruiser II again today while some in that class are questioning its presence. However a tough battle is ensuing between the closely-rated likes of Jacana, Jus' Do It 2, Celerity and Disco Inferno II. Jacana topped this pack today followed by Celerity and Disco but skipper Matt Abbiss and crew are pleased with their results so far.

Although a three-times ASW veteran, Abbiss' Beneteau 47 is sailing with a charter crew made up of individual slots. "We're managing to get it together now," said Abbiss. Most of the people know each other but have never sailed together. With skills ranging from racers to those that have never raced before, Disco is now fourth in the thirteen boat class.

"Everybody flew in Saturday night. We had a few drinks that night, we met on the boat seven o¹clock Sunday morning, we did a bit of a beat, turned around and did a bit of a run and did a few gybes. So we¹re all growing used to it," continued Abbiss.

Grain de Soleil is leading racer/cruiser III. Kenta is leading performance cruising I while HuGo looks set to better rival L'Esperance with an 11 point lead. This class was the scene of some upset when King's Legend, charter yacht and Whitbread veteran, failed to adequately duck X-612 World of Tui. Her pulpit caught World Of Tui's running backstay and the rig came tumbling down on to the same errant pulpit. Needless to say World Of Tui is out of the regatta but King¹s Legend is too with pulpit and bow damage.

Despite the concerns of Kalikobass skipper Kevin Paul, today was not the day for Beneteau 53 Hark and Kalikobass managed to sail better than its rating for the second day to maintain its lead at the top of cruising I.

Locahy Maiden, a Hylas 46, won cruising II today but Columbia 50 Arawa has held on to her lead in the class.

The bareboat classes saw a near re-run of yesterday's scores with Fabi, Rosco, Lofoten I and Taz once again winning bareboat classes I, II, III and V respectively. In bareboat IV Casanova won the day while Sun Odyssey 44 Phoebe leads the class.

As crews paint the town red on the regatta strip between Nelson's Dockyard and Antigua Yacht Club Marina thoughts will be on the day off tomorrow for ASW's ubiquitous LayDay which will see high jinks, fun and frivolity at Antigua Yacht Club.

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