Paul Wyeth /

Big opener for Antigua Sailing Week

Richard Matthews comes to the rescue in MOB incident

Sunday April 29th 2012, Author: Louay Habib, Location: Antigua and Barbuda

There was some electrifying action on the first day of Antigua Sailing Week. Big breeze and lumpy seas were the order of the day for the first race with more exciting action and drama to get the regatta off to a blistering start.

Peter Harrison's Farr 115 Sojana corrected out to win CSA 1A today but there was a dramatic rescue in CSA 1B. Stefan Lehnert was understandably concerned when his son, Phillip went over board from Tripp 56 Passion 4C during a broach when approaching the Half Moon mark. The two Oyster 82s, Starry Night and Zig Zag were the closest to the scene and Richard Matthews, steering Zig Zag, was the first to spot the man in the water and perfected a recovery. Philip Lehnert was unharmed in the incident, however the quick action of Zig Zag in pulling him from the water and the willingness of other competitors to assist was commendable. Richard Matthews' Zig Zag got their just rewards for their valour by winning today's race after a decision by the Race Committee regarding duress.

CSA 2 produced probably the best skirmish of the day, Chris Brand's Swan 53 Merel Four took line honours, but Ross Applebey's Oyster 48 Scarlet Oyster corrected out to win the first battle of the series. However, the top six yachts were all very much in contention during today's three hour race. Ulrich Rohde's Swan 53 Dragon Fly Plus took the last podium position. However Christian Reynolds' Swan 51 Northern Child, Andy Middleton's Global Yacht Racing and Gijs van Liebergen's Swan 65 King's Legend were all very much in the running.

In CSA 3, today's race was won by Richard Wesslund's J/120 El Ocaso by just six seconds on corrected time. Wesslund's Florida-based crew have been in fine form all season but the team may well have a battle royal on their hands this week. Mario Martinez, skipper of Smile and Wave, has brought a Brazilian team to race at Antigua Sailing Week. "The sailing today was just fantastic. Back home we rarely get to race in more than 12 knots of wind so we do not have much experience in big conditions, so we feel a bit tired right now but one of the other reasons we have come to Antigua is that we have heard there is a great party atmosphere, so we are looking forward to tonight!"

Nick Burns' First 40 Lancelot II made a great recovery after turning back to restart. Lancelot II was called OCS and it was at a big cost but the team from the Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club dug deep and managed to climb back through the fleet to finish in third place.

In CSA 4, Calvin Reed's First 40.7 Elandra is defending their class win from last year and took the first race of the series. Sir Hugh Bailey's First 456 Hugo B was just a minute ahead of archrival, Carlo Falcone steering Caccia alla Volpe.

In CSA 5, Geoffrey Pidduck's Six Metre, Biwi Magic put in a polished performance today, winning the opening race of the regatta by a substantial margin. Tanner Jones' J/30 Blue Peter corrected out to take second place with Rick Gormley's First 38 Elethea taking third. Biwi Magic's owner-driver, Geoffrey Pidduck was born in Dominica 74 years ago, but grew up in Antigua and is remarkably fit and agile for his age.

"I was a late starter to sailing, so I have only been coming to Antigua Sailing Week for about 40 years," joked Pidduck, dockside at Antigua Yacht Club. "Today was great fun, that's what racing in Antigua is all about - good breeze and warm water. We got away well and seemed to leave the rest behind, which was very satisfying. I have invested in some new sails and I was delighted with our boat speed today. However, it was important to make the fewest mistakes today but we did have a bit too much sail up on the last beat and took in a bit of water but all in all a great day. Two of the crew have come all the way from Canada and I want to make sure they have a challenging week, so we can all better ourselves."

In the Bareboat division, there are 35 teams racing at Antigua Sailing Week. Gold Sponsors Sunsail and other charter companies provide a user-friendly way of entering the regatta and with virtually identical boats in each division, racing is incredibly competitive. Stewart Reed's Dilligaf placed third in Bareboat 2 today. Reed is racing with a group of friends from the UK to celebrate his 50th birthday.

The last paragraph of today's report must mention the highly inventive and extremely successful race course for the multihull class. Peter Aschenbrenner's 63ft trimaran Paradox is lightening quick, so much so that the multihull is rated at twice the speed of the rest of the competition. So Paul Miller, Race Officer for the multihull division for the day, elected to send Paradox twice around the 14.5 mile course. The decision paid off as the Paradox crew had a real race on their hands and crossed the finish line less than a minute in front of Robbie Ferron's Lagoon 410 Katzenellenbogen.

Tonight the imobile Dockyard Festival kicks off with a special appearance from the West Indian cricket legend Sir Vivian Richards. Nelson's Dockyard will be buzzing with live music from the Harmonites Steel Orchestra and great local bands including Hygh Tempa, 1761°, Claudette Peters & the Taxik Band and if that isn't enough, Mindful Movement will be bringing Zumba to Sailing Week.



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