Lolita wins Sailing Week

Alaistair Abrehart reports from the final day of racing from Antigua

Saturday May 3rd 2003, Author: James Boyd, Location: Caribbean
It was a knee-knocking, nail biting finale for the 36th Antigua Sailing Week today. The last day of racing action for division A took place under the imposing cliffs of Shirley Heights and out to 'Africa' - a mark so named for its proximity to the land mass nearest Antigua in a south-easterly direction - while division B was racing between English Harbour and 'Curtains' off Cades Reef.

Frank Savage's Swan 56 Lolita went in to today as the winner of racing II and with another win resoundingly stamped its mark on the class with an 11 point margin. Solid sailing and teamwork notched up a fleet win by a slimmer margin of nine points to the Antiguan/Italian second-placer of Caccia Alla Volpe. Swan 56 Vellamo 2 took the second position in class from Flirt by two points.

Having placed first or second in many of the regattas in which it has competed since Savage launched the boat in 2000, Lolita has not won at ASW ­ until today. "This race is made for Swans," said Savage. "You've got nice long beats and winds between 14 and 20 knots and sometimes more. And I've got my crew right. I've got eight guys that have been with me since 1994 and I bring in more people who fit in to the Lolita culture and it all came together here.

"The Lolita culture is one of self-respect and working together as a team. The thing about Lolita is that we have a depth in our crew and we all pull together."

The nail-biter was between Sotto Voce and Chippewa. They came in to today tied for second place in fleet with Chippewa leading the big boat class by two points. Although it looked good for Chippewa to triumph, the day went to Sotto Voce - on a tiebreak. Neither boat sailed totally clean races with Sotto Voce picking up a fish pot and Chippewa losing its headsail on the first beat.

The wind started off light today at about 14-15 knots and almost imperceptibly built to 19-20 knots by the time Chippewa finished. And while the increased wind speed played into the hands of Chippewa, it wasn't enough for the heavier Swan 68 to close the gap.

French IMX 40 Near Miss topped racing III followed by Irish Intuition, a Reflex 38, sending Caccia Alla Volpe in to third place but it wasn't enough to deny Caccia victory in the class. Near Miss was second overall and Irish Intuition was third. Caccia put in a 720 after a start line infringement and that was enough to cost her at least second place. The top class seven finishers, all small light boats, benefited from the growing winds. On the water for an hour and a half more than the bigger boats they racked up the top seven places in fleet.

Antiguan Melges 24 Huey skippered by Bernie Wong topped the racing sport boat class after a visit to the protest room today. Non-plussed by a competitor¹s ability to hike, he attended the meeting with photographic evidence to show that Beneteau 28 Credit Moderne was sailing with lifelines made from bungee cord; a DSQ followed for Credit Moderne and Huey won the day.

Farr 72, Starr Trail, despite a fourth place today won racer/cruiser with Adams 65 Helsal 2 second; a first place for Helsal today wasn't enough to close the gap. The racer/cruiser division also went to Starr Trail.

David McLean's Tazani comfortably won racer/cruiser II with Eddie Warden-Owen driving and Mascalzone Latino America's Cup veteran Tom Weaver also at the back of the boat. J/46 Jacana was second overall and Swan 48 Celerity, which has been campaigning the Caribbean race season, was third.

Although the points changed in racer/cruiser III, the positions didn't with Grain De Soleil winning, Tarok VI second and 1st Away third.

On the division B course igoodia almost topped fleet but did win performance cruising I class. Hansa, the sistership to the now mast-less world of Tui, was second. Swan 65 Kenta was third.

Hugh Bailey's HuGo won the battle of the marinas as well as performance cruising II and fleet prize. Sailing their Beneteau 43 Hugh Bailey and crew only dropped one race. Bobby Velasquez's L'Esperance was second and Scaramouche was third.

The Brill Nautical Society onboard chartered Frers 76 Kalikobass with Kevin Paul on the helm bulleted cruising I again today and won the class. Excalibur, a CNB 70, was second. Hark, a Beneteau 53, was third and surprised its crew as much as everybody else with its performance; she is currently rigged for a crossing to the Azores and, enjoying the racing, decided to delay the provisioning planned for Lay Day until after the

Arawa, after a collision before the start which resulted in the skipper being taken to hospital with head injuries, did not start. The day's win and class honours went to Hylas 46 Lochay Maiden.

True to form Fabi, Rosco and Lofoten I won today's races in bareboat I, II and III cleaning up in their classes with five bullets each. Taz only dropped one race to win bareboat V while Casanova won bareboat IV; tomorrow's inaugural Bareboat Championship pitting the top three bareboat skippers from each class against each other will be interesting.

The 36th annual Antigua Sailing Week concludes with the Lord Nelson's Ball tomorrow night.

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