Antigua Dragon YC Challenge on Falmouth Harbour
by Louay Habib on 14 Feb 2014
The inaugural Antigua Dragon YC Challenge comprised a week of gentlemen's racing in the tight confines of Falmouth Harbour and the exhilarating ocean swell of Antigua. Nine highly competitive races were held over five days with yachts representing world famous yacht clubs.
Antigua Dragon YC Challenge 2014 Shirley O’Hara Falcone
In view of crowds of spectators and the superyachts moored in Falmouth Harbour, the racing was cheered on by the sailing community of Antigua. Superyacht Imagine joined in the fun by blasting out the warning signals for the final medal race, much to the amusement of the competitors.
Racing in identical Petticrow Dragons, the boat on boat action was intense with points being won or lost by seconds. Stars of the Olympic Games, America's Cup and Volvo Ocean Race were attracted to the invitational event.
Poul Hoj-Jensen has been undefeated in any Dragon competition in Antigua for the many years, the Danish double Olympic Gold medalist and three-time Dragon World Champion spoke after winning the inaugural Antigua Dragon YC Challenge on behalf of the Mill Reef Yacht Club.
'This was a very good standard of competition.' commented Pol Hoj-Jensen dockside. 'I am sure the quality will be there next year for sure. Although I have been in the Dragon Class a lot longer than the rest, the speed of the boats was very close but with experience you know some little tricks that can give you a small advantage. I have a very good crew, which allows me to look around and see what is going on, whilst others, new to the class, have to concentrate more on the helm. However, at this level you can never take anything for granted, you have to work hard and keep concentrated. I will say very well done to Carlo (Falcone) for organising this event, it has been a showcase for the fantastic Dragon racing in Antigua and I sincerely hope it will encourage other Dragon sailors to come and join us in the future.'
Karl James skippered the Antigua Yacht Club entry took the runner up prize with an all-Antiguan team of Bob Green and Sean Malone.
'Racing a Dragon is not just about the driver,' commented Karl. 'The whole team has to click together and I have been racing with Sean a lot and Bob is very experienced, which makes a big difference, Sean and Bob performed very well. If you had offered me second before the event I would have taken it, the standard was exactly as I expected from Olympic and America's Cup sailors and Pol is the greatest Dragon sailor of all time. The racing was so close but I don't think our local knowledge was a real factor, it was so shifty that reading the conditions and reacting to them and the boats around you was crucial. One outstanding feature of this regatta was that it was so close to the Antigua Yacht Club and we had a lot of shoreside support, which was very encouraging.'
Carlo Falcone representing Monaco Yacht Club snatched third place by virtue of winning the final medal race. Monaco Yacht Club tied on points with the New York Yacht Club but claimed third by virtue of two wins in the series.
'We won the first race and we put a tremendous effort in for the last race, to prove we could beat Pol again.' smiled Carlo Falcone, helm for the Monaco Yacht Club team. 'We love racing at Nonsuch Bay, it is a beautiful place to sail, but racing in Falmouth this week has produced the best event since we started the Dragon Class. Falmouth Harbour and the coastline gives a great variety of courses. Racing near the superyachts with so many spectators watching was really great fun, it's like racing in a stadium.'
The intensity of the competition was evident right through the fleet. Harmony Hall Yacht Club, skippered by Shannon Falcone tied on points with Fort Lauderdale Yacht Club, led by Mike Toppa. On countback Harmony Hall Yacht Club won the duel.
After the medal race, the fleet staged a short sharp windward-leeward exhibition race. The Monaco Yacht Club was leading at the windward mark, positioned just a few feet from the restaurant at Antigua Yacht Club Marina. In the true spirit of the event, Carlo Falcone eased sheets at the top mark and let every single competitor pass, saluting each one.
The Prize Giving Ceremony was held at The Inn at English Harbour, honoured guests, competitors and their families enjoyed a welcome cocktail party with delicious canapes before Master of Ceremony's, Tommy Paterson opened the proceedings. Alight-hearted look at the strength in depth of all the sailors taking part in the event was followed by the awards. Each competitors was roundly applauded but the biggest cheer was reserved for Pol HoJ-Jensen and the Mill Reef Yacht Club team of Martin Beck and Pat Moore Watson.
The Date for the 2015 Antigua Dragon YC Challenge is yet to be finalised but likely to be held at the same time next year. Yacht Clubs and individuals are invited to contact: Event Website