On day three of the Oyster Regatta Antigua, full on ocean conditions were the order of the day for the penultimate race. Race Three sponsored by Pelagos Yachts, started from outside English Harbour with the magnificent Oyster fleet beating to windward passed the Pillars of Hercules to enjoy an 18-mile ocean race, finishing at Nonsuch Bay on the windward coast of Antigua. At times, the wind speed was close to 20 knots and the sea state past Shirley Heights was significant. Oyster Yachts are built for blue water cruising and the largest fleet of Oyster Yachts ever assembled in the Caribbean were most certainly in their element.
In Class One, Paul and Penny Brewer's British Oyster 100, Penelope showed impressive speed, to take Line Honours for the third consecutive race and their third victory on corrected time assures Penelope of the class win with a race to spare. Penelope's skipper, Mark Durham spoke after racing today: 'These are the conditions that Penelope really loves and that has shown in our results but what has been even more pleasant is that this is the first time that Paul and Penny Brewer's children have raced the boat and they have been very much part of the team. The three sons 17,18 and 20 have taken on important roles on board and before the regatta we spent some time at Barbuda, scuba diving, so that they have now passed there PADI exam. Penelope is great to race but her real role is to entertain guests and we have definitely had a lot of fun before and during this regatta.'
Oyster 885, Lush with Eddie Jordan at the helm and Dario Galvao's Brazilian Oyster 655, Rocas had an epic battle for second place. Rocas won the encounter by just 34 seconds, lifting them to third overall in class, just a single point ahead of Oyster 82, Starry Night.
In Class Two there is a tremendous battle between three Oyster 625s. Russian Oyster 625, Lady Mariposa took the gun by four minutes but after time correction Lady Mariposa took the win by just 30 seconds from Wolfram Birkel's Oyster 625, Red Cat. Maxim Kudryashov's Russian Oyster 625, Guardian Angel was third. With one race remaining, these three yachts are vying for the class title. Chris Glossop's British Oyster 575, Dreamer of Hamble was once again the top performer in the Oyster 575s.
Danish double Olympic Gold medallist, Jesper Bank is sailing on Oyster 625, Lady Mariposa this week. 'The racing in the Oyster 625s is like one-design racing' commented Jesper. 'Both upwind and downwind we are really close on the water and that gives the owner and his guests a fantastic experience. Today, we were so close but we made the best rounding for the last beat to the finish, which gave us clear air but I am sure tomorrow will be a really close race.'
With just one race to go a terrific battle has developed in Class Three. Assuming that the last race goes ahead, one race will be discarded, and four yachts are in the hunt for the class title. Eric Alfredson's Swedish Oyster 53, Lisanne is the current class leader. However, two Oyster 56s are still very much in contention, Harvey and Sue Death's Sarabi and Joachim and Rolf Riel's Mariela. Tony Keal's British Oyster 54, Wolfhound is also capable of winning the class but there was heartache today for the Wolfhound team.
'We lost electrical power before the start and we decided it would not be safe to race.' commented Tony. 'However, we had no problem sailing behind the fleet all the way to Nonsuch Bay and will join in the party tonight. It was a great shame because the big sea state and upwind legs would have really suited us today. We are doing everything we can to get the boat race-worthy for tomorrow. I have a great crew on board, who have all just sailed around the world in the Oyster World Rally on four different boats, so there is a lot of experience on board.'
Nonsuch Bay Resort provided wonderful hospitality for the Oyster fleet, with water taxis ferrying the owners and their guests ashore to a very warm welcome from the attentive staff. The fleet enjoyed drinks on the terrace as the sun set on the Oyster fleet, anchored in one of the most beautiful bays of Antigua. The Oyster family enjoyed a sumptuous plated dinner, surrounded by forty acres of beautifully landscaped gardens and stunning ocean views.
Oyster CEO and Race Officer for the regatta, David Tydeman announced the prize winners and commented. 'Classic Caribbean wind and sea conditions provide different racing to our Mediterranean events. At the Oyster Regatta in Palma last October, in light airs with the same rating, the Oyster 100, Penelope was beaten by Oyster 885's, 72's and the Oyster 82, Starry Night! It’s great to see Penelope doing so well here and now, with three bullets, she is assured of a win overall. I'm very pleased to see that she will be on the start line for the last race, showing good sportsmanship. The other two classes are still wide open and tomorrow promises to be a fantastic day on the water.'
Racing at the Oyster Regatta Antigua will come to a conclusion, Saturday 12th April with a spectacular downwind race back to English Harbour.