Mixed conditions for round the island race
The forecast predicted light winds that threatened to put a damper on the opening day of Antigua Sailing Week spiced up sufficiently this morning as the fleets made their way to the startline off Falmouth Harbour.
A good 10-11 knot working breeze from the northeast under a heavy sky saw both Division A racing classes, and Division B cruising/charter boats engage in close racing right from the start as they headed off in an easterly direction round the coast. The wind stayed for most of the day and the clouds moved on, giving way to a sparkling, classic Caribbean day on the race course.
Division A, which was last to start, endured an interesting tactical game weaving their way through the entire fleet as they headed off on the 50 nautical mile, Yachting World Round the Island Race (second race in the Antigua Offshore Series). The largest boats in the fleet however, such as Tom and Dotty Hill’s custom Reichel/Pugh 75 Titan 15 and Niklas Zennström’s 72ft Judel Vrolijk-designed Ràn powered off from the start line and looked set to make a big impact on the fleet.
America’s Cup helmsman Peter Holmberg on the helm of Sojana opted for the pin-end of the line with Ràn just to windward. Peter Isler – another America’s Cup icon, calling tactics on Titan 15, chose an inshore route which paid off handsomely as they took a big lift under the cliffs, leaving Ràn having to tack back inshore. But it was still ‘early days’. Although the fleet enjoyed what Adrian Lee aboard his Cookson 50 Lee Overlay Partners reported as "champagne sailing" round the top of the island, with winds topping 18 knots, the leaders suffered as they were stuck in a wind hole approaching the final leg of the course.
At the southwest corner of the island at Curtains, the wind dropped out completely during the wind transitional zone giving those astern an opportunity to catch up on Ràn, and Titan 15 which drifted in no wind for 10 minutes. Lee Overlay Partners spotted a new wind line and made up a lot of ground but not quite enough to outshine Titan 15, which inched ahead to cross the finish line first after 5h 18m 55secs. Ràn followed in quick succession to take an overall win by just over a minute and a half on corrected time.
Chatting about today’s race aboard Titan 15, Isler said: “It’s a good way to start. We were a bit apprehensive about how we’d go against Ràn so it was good to get the first race under our belt. They are going to be tough to beat this week because they are sailing really well and they are very close on speed to us, and pushing us all the time.”
The team on Lee Overlay Partners was pleased with their third overall, particularly after their fairly poor start. Lee continued: “We had a great day after our lumpy start and seemed to catch up fairly well. She needs about 15 knots to really perform so today’s conditions were not ideal, we’re really pleased therefore with the result. Together with our win in the Guadeloupe race on Friday we’re now in a strong position in the Antigua Ocean Series.”
The team on Sin Duda, the American Santa Cruz 52, sailed a good opening race in Racing 2 beating Phil Marsden’s chartered Swan 56 King Sturge by five minutes on corrected time.
One of the most competitive classes has to be Racing 3 with some extremely closely rated boats racing virtually boat for boat. One of the class favourites – James Dobb’s local Antiguan J/122 Lost Horizon – had his work cut out today and was beaten by Marc Glimcher’s brand-new American J/122 Catapult. Richard Matthews’ Humphries One-Off design Oystercatcher XXVI, and the Reichel Pugh 44 Peake Yacht Services continued their Caribbean season-long battle today with Peake Yacht Services taking the upper hand finishing in fourth place, with Barry Sampson’s well-sailed Swan 42 Long Echo separating the two.
In Performance Cruising 1 Peter Morris and his team aboard the Trinny Frers 43 Jaguar – fresh from their second place in the Guadeloupe race on Friday – beat the Swan 48 Avocation, while three local Antiguan boats finished in the top four of Performance Cruising 2 including the interesting modified, Six-Metre Biwi Magic sailed by Geoffrey Pidduck and crew, who took the overall win.
The British Jeanneau 49 Sunbeat IV sailed by Steve Kuhl and team won the 11-strong Cruising 1 class, and Burt Keenan and team sailing the Frers custom 48 Acadia took Cruising 2 by just over a minute on corrected time from Rick Gormley’s First 38 Elethea.
The bareboat charter yachts enjoyed some extremely close racing in Division B. Regulars at Antigua Sailing Week, KH+P Yachtcharter from Stuttgart, Germany, have 12 boats competing and in Bareboat 2, KH+P charter yachts took six places in the top seven including the Dufour 44 Sea you Later which took the class win today.
The schedule for Antigua Sailing Week continues tomorrow with Race 3 of the regatta series. Division A yacht will compete in two South Coast Races while Division B, based at Dickenson Bay overnight, will sail to Jolly Harbour for the West Coast Race.
Full results here