There were hundreds of smiling faces in Falmouth Harbour this morning. The 27th Edition of the Antigua Classic Yacht Regatta kicked off in glorious Caribbean weather, 20 knots of warm Trades' and two metre seas provided exciting conditions for the wondrous fleet of classic yachts that have gathered in Antigua. The Old Road Course had plenty of reaching legs, with beautiful yachts sailing fast, sliding down Caribbean surf, it was a fantastic day on the water.
The Vintage Classic Fleet produced some of the closest racing today. In Class A, Scott Franz's American 72' Herreshoff, Ticonderoga of Greenwich was the winner with the American 1925 Herreshoff Schooner Mary Rose taking Class B. However after time correction, Michael Jarrald's British 66' Cutter, Lily Maid, built in 1904 was the winner of Class B and the Vintage Classic fleet.
Ralph Isham's timeless American clipper-bowed classic, 105' ketch Whitehawk revelled in the big breeze and reaching legs to take a great win in Classics Class A and the 17 strong Classic Fleet. Last year's class winner, Van de Stadt ketch, Stormvogel was second by just 36 seconds on corrected time. Robert Soros' Juno was the winner in Classic Class B and Ross Gannon's Eleda was the winner of Classic Class C. Spirit of Callisto owned by Richard and Linda Hearn won Classic Class D.
In the Classic GRP Fleet, Stuart Armstrong's John Alden designed Desiderata was the winner, taking Line Honours and the win after time correction. Desiderata was built in 1975 and has sailed around the world. Today, British couple, Stuart and Julia are the proud owners, living happily on board, all year round. Desiderata had an extensive refit in 2013.
'An absolutely amazing day, we got the gun and we are first in class, how much better could it be?' Laughed Stuart. 'We had our secret weapon on the helm, Tommy Patterson manager of Antigua Yacht Club Marina. We come here because it is the best classic regatta in the world. Two of our crew have never been here before and out there today, looking at all those boats, they were gobsmacked with the beauty of the fantastic boats and winning was just the cherry on the top. Recently the boat has had a lot of work done to her and it is very rewarding to win today, having put so much effort into Desiderata, she has paid me back today.'
In Classic GRP Class B, Springtide raced by a St.Maarten team, skippered by Robbie Ferron, took the win but only just. Martin Halpern's Ruffian was less than a minute behind on corrected time.
The Alwyn Enoe designed 42' Carriacou Sloop, Genesis showed a clean pair of heals today in the Traditional Racing Class, taking Line Honours by over 12 minutes and correcting out to win the first race of the regatta. Antiguan Alexis Andrews, skipper of Genesis was dockside in a big huddle of Carriacou Sloop sailors, enjoying a cold drink dockside in Falmouth Marina.
'All the Carriacou sloops are on the dock after the race and the atmosphere is hot.' smiled Alexis. 'We were all flying today in plenty of wind, which is what these boats like. Genesis is a very heavy boat and beamy, the heaviest of all the Carriacous with a lot of ballast, so she likes a lot of weather and big seas, which we got today. We have Sean Davis and Jerisse Williams on board, who are both great young Antiguan sailors. Sean is a fisherman with big hands and he needed them today on the main sheet, he did an excellent job. Exodus is a new boat for the crew and she is very fast, they have put a lot of effort into her development, she has a fast hull and they are tweaking stuff all the time, I am sure she will be a fast boat by the end of the week.'
In the Spirit of Tradition Class, Michael Hough's 49' Chloe Racing Spirit, corrected out to win the race. Classics' Race Reporter, Louay Habib took a ride on the beautiful J/Class, Rainbow for today's race.
The original Rainbow was launched in 1934, commissioned by Harold Vanderbilt for the America's Cup. 78 years later the new Rainbow, designed by Dykstra Naval Architects, was launched at Holland Jachtbouw. The latest version has a luxurious mahogany interior, the mast is carbon and Rainbow is bristling with the latest deck systems. In cruising mode, the 130' J/Class can be sailed by just six people.
'Unfortunately the owner was unable to attend the regatta but he made Rainbow available to his friends.' commented Marc Heupers. 'The regular crew and the guests worked together as a team and we had a fantastic sail today. When we race Rainbow against the other J/Class yachts it is very different to racing at Classics. We have a much larger race crew and the boat is pushed to the maximum. However, at Classics we sail safely and just have a lot of fun. We had a great moment today when we caught up Old Bob. The Old Bob crew were blowing party hooters and shouting and waving at us, so we waved back and gave Old Bob a loud blast on our air horn – That is the spirit of Antigua Classics and we love it.'
Full results are now available on the event web site. Racing continues tomorrow with The cannon Course.