by Louay Habib
The Mill Reef Yacht Club Team Race Challenge is set to take place 26th February - 2nd March 2014. The inaugural event invites members of prestigious yacht clubs to enjoy an exciting racing programme and fabulous social occasions at one of Antigua's most exclusive locations.
Spectacular Nonsuch Bay
The teams from Antigua, Europe, United States, and Sweden will race in three boat teams consisting of 1720 Sportsboats, Dragons and Rhodes 19s. Nine members are permitted per team and world class sailors will be attending the regatta.
The social programme starts on the 26th February with the Commodore's Cocktail Reception, where the draw for boats will be made, followed by a Barbecue Buffet Dinner in the Main Dining Room at Mill Reef.
Racing starts on 28th February with as many as 30 starts per day. The intended racing format is for a box course allowing from plenty of boat on boat action. Each team will race in flights, in a round robin format. The course will be set in the stunning confines of Nonsuch Bay, as close as possible to the Mill Reef Club, for the benefit of spectators and crews who are between flights.
Royal Yacht Squadron: Graham and Julia Bailey will head up a strong team for The Royal Yacht Squadron, Cowes. The Husband and wife team have huge experience in Dragons and Etchells, competing in many world championships over the past decade and Graham is a proven helmsman at team racing events.
Club Naval de Cascais: Patrick de Barros leads the team from Portugal, Club Naval de Cascais has a strong racing heritage with a highly competitive Dragon fleet and hosted the 2007 ISAF Sailing World Championship. Patrick Monteiro de Barros is one of Portugal's finest sailors, a former RC44 Champion and experienced Star Class sailor. The Portuguese team will include members of the ROFF-Cascais Sailing Team, which came third in the Youth America's Cup last September.
Swiss-Swedish Team: The former America's Cup syndicate head, Hugo Stenbeck will lead a team of Swiss and Swedish sailors. Hugo is a six metre World and European Champion and prolific high performance keelboat sailor, a previous winner of Antigua Sailing week and numerous offshore races.
Sail Newport: Rhode Island boat restorer and banker, Jamie Hilton will lead a team from Newport. Jamie is a highly experienced six metre and Farr 40 helmsman and twice World Champion in the 12 metre class. Jamie Hilton races in all manner of boats and events, including winning the 2013 Transpac Race, in the classic yacht Dorade.
Mill Reef YC: Poul Hoj-Jensen will lead the host team, Poul is one of Denmark's most decorated sailors and has taken part in ten Dragon World Championships, winning on three occasions and won the Dragon Gold Cup on five occasions. Poul is a multiple one-design world champion and has competed at four Olympic Games, winning two Gold and one Silver Medal. Fuller Cowles, Commodore of Mill Reef YC and Ralph Isham, syndicate head of 12 metre Courageous, will be competing for Mill Reef YC and America's Cup winner, Robbie Doyle will add his legendary expertise.
'Racing just outside the Mill Reef Yacht Club in Nonsuch Bay is fantastic, it is one of the best places to sail anywhere in the world.' Commented Poul Hoj-Jensen. 'There is always good stable wind and flat water, the conditions are beautifully warm and the scenery is spectacular. This is a completely new and novel event, teams can change crew between boats and we have tried to keep the event very open to encourage as many sailors as possible to participate. Looking at the weather in Europe and the USA, Antigua will be a welcome change in temperature for many of the sailors. No oil skins will be needed but don't forget your hats and sunscreen!'
Competitors will have full access to the The Mill Reef Club, a private club set on 1,500 waterfront acres with sandy white beaches, a breathtaking nine hole golf course, six tennis courts, and a fully equipped yacht club.