Photo: Sue Pelling

Clean sweep for Sojana

Round Redonda Race takes place on Antigua Sailing Week lay day

Wednesday April 28th 2010, Author: Sue Pelling, Location: Antigua and Barbuda

Sojana, Peter Harrison’s 115ft Farr superyacht, broke her own record in today’s 80-mile Round Redonda Race by 45 minutes, with a time of 7 hours, 9 minutes and 58 seconds.

With former BMW Oracle Racing/Alinghi America’s Cup helmsman Peter Holmberg steering, and a crew made up of highly respected professionals including Fraser Brown, Marc Fitzgerald, Jacques Vincent, and round the world yachtsman Brian Thompson, the stage was set for a good performance in this, the final part of the three-act Antigua Ocean Series.

A forecast of light to moderate winds didn’t bode particularly well for this offshore race, but thankfully the breeze continued to build all day making for some of the most spectacular racing seen so far this week in Antigua with winds reaching 24 knots on the return leg.

A 0900 start from just off Falmouth in 11 knots of breeze from the east saw Holmberg execute a text book, port-hand start from the committee boat end of the line, clearing the other two contenders coming in from the pin end. Irish sailor Adrian Lee and his international team aboard the Cookson 50 Lee Overlay Partners – winner of the Racing Division of this opening race in the Antigua Ocean Series, the Guadeloupe Race last Friday – were Sojana’s biggest threat today. They were straight on Sojana’s tail right from the start and were keen to keep pressure on all the way down the 40-mile run to the island. However, in the constantly building breeze, the powerful Farr ketch, sporting newly developed 3Di sails being tested by Andrew Dove, North’s area manager for the Caribbean, and his team, lifted her skirts in style and enjoyed a spectacular sleigh ride all the way to the rock, managing to shake off the threatening Cookson 50 in to the bargain.

Once round the austere-looking, uninhabited island, discovered by Christopher Columbus in 1493, the wind had built to a good 20+ knots making for a spectacular beat back to Antigua. The direction of the wind rolling in from the southeast made life on board Sojana particularly rewarding with just a couple of tacks out to the favoured right-hand side of the course and then a clear ride back to Falmouth.

Holmberg commenting on today’s race said: “It wasn’t that tricky today, but on a long race like this you have to anticipate what the wind might do later on. Thankfully the crew made a pretty good call as to what it might do today. The key was investing in the right, so after we got round Redonda it was important to head over there and the wind swung in the direction we predicted. That was a big gain for us. We are really pleased to have improved on our record from last year. It just goes to show, I’m getting better all the time!”

With the Cookson 50, Lee Overlay Partners, nowhere to be seen on the horizon as Sojana crossed the finish line, the situation for an overall win for Peter Harrison's yacht looked fairly hopeful. Lee Overlay Partners came in an hour and 33 minutes later, which, on corrected time wasn’t quite enough to break Sojana’s clean sweep of: line honours, new record, and an overall win - a second to add to her two wins however, now puts Lee Overlay Partners in a firm position as overall winner of the Antigua Ocean Series 2010.

Meanwhile back on shore for Antigua Sailing Week lay day, 100s of competitors teamed up for the watersport action in the dockyard throughout the day. The lay day party continued as the sun set over Falmouth Harbour, concluding yet another highly successful day at Antigua Sailing Week.

Class racing resumes tomorrow with two round-the buoys races on the south coast for Division A, and the Division B Willoughby Bay Race, and potentially the postponed Race 1 taking place immediately afterwards.

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