by Louay Habib
The 46th Antigua Sailing Week is on the way and over 100 yachts from all over the world are expected to compete. The week-long event is considered the 'last night at the prom' for international racing boats in the Caribbean and months of careful preparation will deliver a spectacular finale both on the water and ashore for a truly astounding collection of sailors from the four corners of the earth.
Spectacular racing at Antigua Sailing Week
Already, 95 yachts from 24 different countries are entered for Antigua Sailing Week with many more expected over the coming weeks. Without doubt Antigua Sailing Week is one of the most international regattas anywhere in the world with entries from: Antigua, Australia, Austria, Barbados, Canada, France, Germany, Guadeloupe, Great Britain, Grenada, Ireland, Italy, Lithuania, Mexico, Peru, Puerto Rico, Russia, St.Barths, St. Lucia, Sweden, Trinidad, USA, the US Virgin Islands and Venezuela.
Many of the yachts have been pitting their wits against each other at several regattas throughout the Caribbean season but none of them have sailed as many miles as the Lithuanian entry, Ambersail. After competing at Antigua Sailing Week last year, the team from Lithuanian set off on an incredible journey, sailing the Volvo 60 all the way to Australia to compete in the Sydney Hobart Race. After completing the iconic race, Ambersail sailed right back to Antigua via Cape Horn for the third time in four years, to take part in Antigua Sailing Week.
Simonas Steponavièius, skipper of Ambersail, spoke about the team whilst testing out their new main sail off English Harbour, Antigua:
'Ambersail was formed in 2009 to celebrate 1,000 years of Lithuanian history and to show how the country had changed since the breakup of the Soviet Union. Today Ambersail is a household name and offers fantastic sailing opportunities to the many world-class Lithuanian sailors, but all of the crew have regular jobs. We do corporate events to fund the boat but we are essentially an amateur crew. Only the boat captain, Linkus, is full time. Ambersail has sailed over 150,000 miles since 2009 and we never ship the boat. I can't think of another race boat that does so many miles.
Simonas Steponavièius, skipper of Ambersail - Antigua Sailing Week
'We raced at Antigua Sailing Week last year and it is great to be back in Antigua. It is one of the best events in the world with very good organisation and perfect conditions for us; we love big breeze and waves and I would say Antigua Sailing Week's slogan - Where sailing comes first - is very true; the conditions and courses are intense and our boat just fires up in the beautiful sea around Antigua', continued Steponavièius.
Sand Mair's Beneteau 35, Cricket may not have sailed as many miles as Ambersail but the Antiguan boat has certainly been doing the miles this season. Sandy has raced the boat all over the Caribbean this year including events in Antigua, Barbados, Guadeloupe, Grenada, BVI and St. Maarten.
'Well I am not getting any younger so I thought I would do as many regattas as I can this year as you never know when your knees are finally going to go!', laughed the amiable Scot who seems to have lived in Antigua since before Nelson arrived in the Dockyard. 'We try our best at every regatta but Cricket is not exactly optimised for racing and I don't think I'm going to be selected for the Olympics at my age but we are having so much fun, not only at the regattas but sailing in between, as Cricket goes everywhere on her keel. I can think of no better way of finishing the season than back home in Antigua for Antigua Sailing Week. It will be a great way to finish a fantastic year.'
Philippe Falle's Grand Soleil 43, Quokka will be competing this year. His Deep Blue Racing Team will race the highly competitive performance cruiser. Philippe has been coming to Antigua Sailing Week for many years and this year has decided to make a very generous offer!
'I love coming to Antigua and this year I firmly believe that we have a really good chance of winning our class. The people of Antigua have been incredibly kind-hearted to me over the years and I thought it high time I repaid their generosity. In recent years, sailing has been very well promoted in Antigua and I have admired the skills of many of the local sailors. However, I know that racing on big boats is not always available to them.
'There are three places left on board Quokka for Antigua Sailing Week and I have decided to offer one place to a talented Antiguan to boost the team. Karl James, head coach of Antigua's National Sailing Academy will make the choice and I will be delighted to welcome his selection to race with Quokka all week.'
Antigua Sailing Week is now only three weeks away. There is a vast array of charter opportunities still available for individuals or groups. For yachts wishing to take part, there is plenty of room for dockage and mooring in Falmouth and English Harbours, so get your entry in now for the Caribbean sailing season's Grand Finale - Antigua Sailing Week!
Antigua Sailing Week website