Local talent shining through
When the sun is shining on tropical waters with 15 knots of warm breeze filling the air, it is most sailors' idea of rapture. The second day of racing at Antigua sailing Week was blessed with these heavenly conditions.
For the CSA Classes racing in Rendezvous Bay, it was a day to keep your head out of the boat, looking for subtle changes in wind speed and a watchful eye on the competition. The tight course made for plenty of traffic and confused air. The smart sailors avoided the holes in the wind and the sailboat congestion.
Antigua Sailing Week attracts sailors from all over the world, but many local Antiguans are participating this year. Their skill and local knowledge is paying dividends to many yachts racing at Antigua Sailing Week. After two days of racing four of the class leaders have Antiguan sailors amongst their crew, more than any other nation.
Two of the leading boats in the big boat class have Antiguans in key positions. Veteran sailors Karl James on Whisper and Franklyn Braithwaite on Maximiser are two of only a handful of top class Antiguan sailors of their generation. However, In 2010 the Government of Antigua & Barbuda added sailing to the list of National Sports and The National Sailing Academy offers the opportunity for Antiguan school children to learn to sail free of charge. This grass roots development is now producing young Antiguans who are excelling at Antigua Sailing Week.
In CSA 4, Philippe Falle's Grand Soleil 43, Quokka had a fantastic day on the water, winning both races to lead the class. On board for the regatta is Cliff Andrews who lives in Falmouth, Antigua and works at the National Sailing Academy as a coach. "Yesterday was fantastic but today was just incredible," he said after racing. "I have learnt more in the last two days than I could ever imagine and the skipper and the crew are just the best. Quokka is a great boat, beautifully set up for racing, which means we can really get the best performance. We have only been racing two days but I am absolutely loving it."
In CSA 5, Antiguan Louis Sinclair runs the bow on Carlo Falcone's Antiguan-based Caccia alla Volpe, which won both of today's races to lead the class. Despite being just 22, Sinclair is a regular team member on Mike Slade's ICAP Leopard and has ambitions of competing in the Volvo Ocean Race. Educated at St. Nicholas Primary School and Island Academy in Antigua, at the age of about 12 he began sailing an Optimist dinghy at Antigua Yacht Club.
In CSA 6, Geoffrey Pidduck's Antiguan Biwi Magic won today's race to lead the class. At the tender age of 75, Pidduck moved to Antigua with his parents at 7 years of age. However, Biwi Magic's bowman is a little younger than the helmsman. Jules Mitchell of St Joseph's Academy is just 15 years old. "I learn a lot sailing on Biwi Magic. Today for example Geoffrey was teaching me how to trim the pole on the spinnaker and racing at Antigua Sailing Week is the highlight of the year."
In CSA 8, Sir Hugh Bailey's Ugo is the class leader - with a perfect score line after two races the team is in fine form. "Ugo is a new boat this year but a lot of time has been spent preparing her for this regatta. Antigua Sailing Week is the most important event of our season and we wanted to make sure we had every chance," said mainsheet trimmer, Brian Sylvester. "We have a lot of experience on board and Hugh has more knowledge than all of us but we all make a contribution to the success. So far so good but there is plenty of racing to come."
In CSA 3, Digicel Challenger has the cream of Antigua's National Sailing Academy on board including Shawn Malone. "The conditions do not really suit our smaller boat but we are improving every race and this is a very competitive class. We have definitely become more experienced as a crew and the boat is in better shape, thanks to sails donated to us by Key Yachting in Hamble UK. A big thank you to Paul Hays for his generous help - we got our first podium finish today and we will be very proud at today's prize giving."