by Louay Habib
The 45th Antigua Sailing Week, organised by the Antigua Sailing Week Committee affiliated with the Antigua Sailing Association, is being held from 29th April to 4th May.
Flying the Antiguan Flag - Sir Hugh Baileys famous spinnaker on Hugo Bee - Antigua Sailing Week 2012
The Antigua Sailing Week entry list is fast approaching over 100 yachts. There are just six weeks to go before the final curtain call of the Caribbean racing season. The Organising Committee is recruiting dozens of volunteers for the SWAT team (Sailing Week Antigua Team) to make sure that the Caribbean's oldest and most prestigious regatta is a joy to behold.
Kathy Lammers is Chairman of the Regatta Organising Committee for Antigua Sailing Week: 'The management team is working flat out to deliver a great event and we are ready to have a bit of a celebration when we pass 100 entries. We know there are a lot of boats coming that have not entered yet and we would encourage them to submit their online entries now. If you haven't got a ride for Antigua Sailing Week and want to come, there are still plenty of opportunities. Visit the yacht charter pages of the event website where you will find there are individual places, bareboats and boats with skippers on offer. We are expecting as many as 2,000 visitors from abroad to come to Antigua Sailing Week and we intend to give them the best possible Antiguan experience.'
Tom Paterson was raised in Antigua and has lived here virtually all his life. He is well known to regulars to Antigua Sailing Week as the larger-than-life Master of Ceremonies at the Final Awards Presentation and Tom has an intimate knowledge of the event; he was Chairman of the Race Committee for 12 years:
'There are just too many happy memories to single one out,' admitted Tom. 'Antigua Sailing Week is what it is - it means so many things to so many people. I guess some of the most memorable battles on the water have been between Caribbean boats because Antigua Sailing Week marks the end of the regatta season. It has always been the time to settle old scores, until next time. I remember a great battle that I was involved in sailing with Carlo Falcone's Caccia Alla Volpe up against Dougie Myers' Legacy. Both boats were 44 feet and evenly matched. We even ended up toe-to-toe in the protest room but that was thrown out. Sadly, Dougie is no longer with us but the Legacy racing mark we use today is named after his boat. It's great to see Caribbean boats returning to Antigua Sailing Week this year and I hope there will be many more.'
This year prior to Antigua Sailing Week, the Yachting World Round Antigua Race will take place on Saturday 28th April. The 50-mile race was previously a part of Antigua Sailing Week, but this year the race has been re-introduced as an optional race open to all yachts.
Peter Harrison's 115-foot Farr-designed ketch Sojana holds the race record, completing the course in 4 hours, 37 minutes and 43 seconds in 2009. Sojana will be back this year to defend her title but is expecting some serious competition as Sojana's skipper, Marc Fitzgerald, explains:
'I was delighted to hear that the Yachting World Round Antigua Race is back. It is a great day out on the water for everyone involved and racing round Antigua is a fantastic race course. Given the right conditions, I think we can definitely better our own record. In 2009, we had good breeze but it never really got above 20 knots. We have also invested in better sails since that time and modified Sojana - we now have a bowsprit and we carry much larger spinnakers. Looking at the current scratch sheet, our closest competition will be the 92' Maxi Med Spirit, but I wouldn't be at all surprised to see a few other superyachts getting involved, which will make the race even more exciting. Sojana will have her usual crew including principle helmsman, Poul Hoj-Jensen, Antigua's Karl James and possibly one or two other well-known sailors. We will be hoping that the trade winds deliver on the day and if they do, I am sure we will be in with a chance of beating the course record.'
Racing at Antigua Sailing Week starts on Sunday 29th April and concludes on Friday 4th May - five days of sizzling action on the foaming blue waters that Antigua is famous for. Every afternoon and evening the entire English Harbour area will be hopping with the sound of live music. Wednesday 2nd May is Lay Day and there will be a fun-filled party on Pigeon Beach and a few surprises in store!
Antigua Sailing Week website