by Louay Habib
Day one of racing at the Oyster Regatta Antigua, sponsored by Dolphin Sails, will be long remembered for spectacular sailing conditions. A solid 15 knots of breeze from the east built to over 20 knots during the race along the stunning south east coast line of Antigua. At the start, the magnificent 35-strong Oyster fleet powered to windward, swapping tacks. The yachts turned downwind to experience classic Trade Wind sailing with the majestic fleet surfing on Caribbean swell, followed by another tactical beat along the awe-inspiring Cades Reef and on to the finish outside Carlisle Bay.
Oyster 625 Lady Mariposa
'With numerous tacking and gybing, whilst reading the lifts and shifts, it was a testing day.'Commented Oyster Yachts CEO and Race Officer, David Tydeman. 'In the lively conditions, it was a day for the larger yachts with deep keels, especially on the first windy beat up to Shirley Heights. On the long run, the choice of running deep under spinnaker, or poled out headsail, looked like a winning tactic and those yachts that ventured inside Cades Reef made great gains on the last upwind leg. It was a race for the strategists today and boat handling came into the fore but what a sight to see; 35 Oysters racing on one of the most exciting race tracks in the world.'
In Class One, Paul and Penny Brewer's British Oyster 100, Penelope revelled in the big breeze to take line honours for the class and the win on corrected time but only just, Irish Oyster 885 Lushwith Eddie Jordan on board, pushed hard the whole way around the course and it was only a small mistake on the last leg that cost Lush dearly. 'That was a real blast!' explained Lush’sCaptain, Paul Adamson. 'Lush was really lit up but in a tricky last beat, we mistimed one tack and that was enough for us to slip back to second. Tomorrow's another day and if it is anything like the first day, we are in for a real treat!.' Third in Class and top Oyster 82 was regatta veteran, Starry Night of the Caribbean.
In Class Two, there was an epic encounter between two Oyster 625s. Wolfram Birkel's Red Catwas making its racing debut and the German Oyster 625 scorched through the starting line in style. However, Russian Oyster 625, Lady Mariposa started the regatta, where they left off at the last Oyster Regatta in Palma, Mallorca by winning the race. After time correction, Lady Mariposatook the prize by just six seconds. Russian owner/driver Maxim Kudryashov, racing Guardian Angel, made it a trio of Oyster 625s on the Class Two podium by claiming third place.
Oyster 100 Penelope - 2014 Oyster Regatta Antigua
Class Three provided an incredibly close finish, with just three minutes separating the elapsed time of the top five boats. Eric Alfredson's Swedish Oyster 53, Lisanne elected to sail with white sails only and produced a text-book performance to win the class on corrected time from Joachim and Rolf Riel's German Oyster 56, Mariela. Harvey and Sue Death's, Oyster 56, Sarabi was placed third after time correction.
After racing the Oyster fleet enjoyed one of Antigua's most sophisticated locations, a beach party and BBQ buffet at Carlisle Bay Resort. Much of the fleet moored in the bay, their mast head lights glowing at sea formed a beautiful back drop to a wonderful location. The chic resort with its own signature style gives Carlisle Bay an attractive, well-groomed elegance and the Oyster owners, family and guests enjoyed cocktails on the beach followed by a succulent buffet.
Mike Hahn, owner of American Oyster 655, Matawai summed up the first day at the regatta, enjoying a cold beer after racing. 'We can definitely improve our performance and I love the competition but these regattas are also about having some fun and we certainly had a lot of that today. Sailing with my son and friends is what I really enjoy the most and we had a great sail bringing the boat down here from the BVI and as always we had a great atmosphere on board. Personally I learn so much about sailing Matawai at these events and it is great to meet up with such a great crowd that these regattas seems to always seem to attract.'
Oyster 655 Matawai - 2014 Oyster Regatta Antigua
Welcome cocktail party, Admiral's Inn, English Harbour - 2014 Oyster Regatta Antigua