The countdown is underway to the start of the Jolly Harbour Valentine's Regatta & Rum Festival tomorrow. It's an event that the world outside Antigua, WI is going to hear a lot more about as the regatta moves to the international stage after twenty successful years of great local racing in the blue waters on the leeward side of this sailors' favourite tropical island.
Jolly Harbour Valentine’s Regatta
The event opens tomorrow (Thursday 7th Feb.) and on Friday eighth February when around thirty yachts will gather on the committee boat start line off Jolly Harbour for a 3-day programme of racing around inshore marks and outlaying rocks. Chief Race Officer is Paul Miller. His long pedigree of Caribbean race management will provide a professional level of on the water competition: 'The Jolly Harbour Valentine's Regatta is an international event and we aim to set challenging courses for some great racing in every class,' he says.
The event has reinvented itself with a concerted 'step change' strategy to become one of the Caribbean's main events. The twin force behind the emergence of the Jolly Harbour Valentine's Regatta is a dynamic pair. Kathy Lammers and Alison Sly-Adams are responsible for re-building one of the world's best known regattas, Antigua Sailing Week, to its former glory. Kathy, Chairman of the Race Committee explains: 'We have a perfect venue in the Jolly Harbour Marina Village to host the racing and the shoreside activities. A full facility marina welcomes yachts from all over the world. The hospitality shown by local supporters and sponsors provides the backdrop to three days of top competition and festivity.'
There are plenty of navigational features off Antigua's west coast, which makes the Valentine's Regatta the domain of any yacht drawing up to three metres. 'Yachts from as far afield as Canada and Europe are taking part, many of which arrive here after transatlantic voyages and rallies,' adds Kathy.
As well as a host of racing yachts from a Mumm 36 to a Cork 1720, cruiser/racers including a Bavaria 42 will also join the start line. A number of International Dragons are also being welcomed, led by multiple Olympic medallist Poul Hoj-Jensen.
Setting the pace for the festive side of the event will be no less than seven different rum sponsors from around the Caribbean. Sailors will mingle with local visitors in the warm evenings for a truly Caribbean experience and enjoy the parties and excellent local and international cuisine.
Jolly Harbour Regatta website