by Louay Habib
Blue water gurgling through the gunnels with white foam hissing at the toe rail, day three of the Antigua Classic Yacht Regatta, sponsored by Panerai was an absolute gem. The Cannon Course featured four reaching legs, six miles out and back and the Classics' fleet played out an entertaining procession in heavenly conditions, 20 knots of breeze, bright sunshine with warm water rolling down the decks. It was a day to celebrate the pure joy of racing classic yachts. Only one race is left for the fleet and for many classes the win is going to the wire.
Coral of Cowes - 2014 Antigua Classic Yacht Regatta
In Vintage Class A, Trygve Bratz's 88' American Marconi Ketch, Sincerity, built in 1927, was the winner today setting up a three-way tie for the class lead. Sincerity, Ticonderoga and Mariella will battle it out for the class win in tomorrow's final encounter. In today's race, Ticonderoga took line honours by just 18 seconds but Sincerity won the race after time correction.
In Vintage Class B, Victor Janovich's magnificent Fife Adventuress won today's race by over four minutes. Mary Rose took second and is the hot favourite to win the class however, a three-way battle for second will be settled tomorrow between Adventuress, Dieter Kruegel's German 1937 Herreschoff, Mistral and the oldest yacht competing at the Classics, Coral of Cowes.
Coral of Cowes was built in 1902 by the White Brothers of Southampton and designed by Fred Shepherd. British Skipper, Richard Oswald has a mixture of family, crew and paying guests on board.
'The boys have been working hard on her upkeep and there is only so much varnishing you can take before you have to go out and enjoy her.' commented Richard. 'Classics is a great event and the heavy conditions really suit Coral, she just loves the breeze and with 26 tons of lead she can handle the big waves with ease. We have had a busy season in the Caribbean and we have had little time to prepare the boat for racing but we come here first and foremost to have a good time and sail the boat well. We are very competitive but it is not just about winning, Classics gives you a fascinating look at beautiful boats and watching how the fast boats do it.'
A fantastic duel has developed in Classic Class A, Ralph Isham's Bruce King Ketch, Whitehawk won today's race by a handsome margin to lead the class by one point from Stormvogel. If Stormvogel wins the last race the two yachts will have an identical score line but the 1961, Van de Stadt Ketch, Stormvogel would win by virtue of winning the last race. The Classic Class is going to the wire.
Robert Soros' 64' Juno and her sister ship, Ross Gannon's 45' Ketch, Eleda were both built at Vineyard Haven, USA. Both of the beautiful creations are winning their respective classes and look likely to celebrate tomorrow.
Juno - 2014 Antigua Classic Yacht Regatta
'What a lovely day, the Cannon is like the kindergarten race, everybody feels good about it!' Laughed Juno's skipper, Scotty Di Biaso. 'Classics is a great way to end the Caribbean season, everyone gets together, you have your hugs, your kisses and goodbyes until the next season. Today seemed tranquil compared to the last two days, much more civilised! There was still a ton of water everywhere but it was really enjoyable, the course doesn't push the boats as hard. We have a really good crew and the owner has enjoyed sailing with some of his friends. We also have the boat's designer Nat Benjamin sailing and the co-designers son, Ross Gannon, some girls from Key West who have just jumped on and Rosie and Peter providing the local knowledge plus our secret weapon, Gidget - that's all I can tell you!'
Classic Class D has a new leader, Hartley 40, Old Bob won today's race by just 21 seconds from Richard and Linda Hearn's Spirit 42, Spirit of Callisto. The crew of Old Bob leapt for joy when they heard the news. 'Brilliant, I cannot tell you how delighted we are!' smiled Old Bob's owner, David Buller. 'The Cannon is our favourite race and to win today and go top of the class is just amazing. Last year, we were beaten on the last day but tomorrow we have another chance, we will do our best but above all make some noise and have a damn good time, that's what Old Bob is all about!'
The Cannon course today produced two new race winners. Philippe Fabre's Carriacou Sloop, Exodus won the Traditional Racing CSA Division and Stuart Simpson's Spirit 76, Nazgul of Fordell was the victor in Spirit of Tradition Racing. After racing, the traditional Parade of Sail took place with yachts motoring into English Harbour and around Nelson's Dockyard with hundreds of spectators cheering on every yacht, it was a great occasion. Yachts were cheering each other and the infectious bonhomie spread to the dockside.
Julian Gildersleeve, Chairman of Antigua Classic Yacht Regatta spoke after racing today. 'The Cannon Race was Kenny Coombs favourite and it was designed so that all of the boats would pass each other; to get a party spirit going. Reaching up and down is not exactly tactical but it shows off these beautiful yachts in all their glory. Reaching in breeze and waves with a plenty of salutes and waving from boat to boat, that is what Classics' is all about.'
Tonight, the Sail Maine Party will be open to all of the Classics' family. A few free drinks, live music and Maine Lobster with some fantastic prizes. Full results can be found on the regatta web site. Racing will conclude with The Windward Race tomorrow, Monday 21st April.
Old Bob - 2014 Antigua Classic Yacht Regatta
For more information: Antigua Classics