Jolly Harbour Valentine's Regatta and Rum Festival 2013 saw the first day of competition belonging to Youth and Elegance. Youth powered the Cork 1720 Digicel Challenger to a win in the CSA Spinnaker Class in the 13.6 mile race. The crew onboard, aged 14-16, showed some real talent in maneuvering their boat around the varied marks of the course, steered by the masterful Shawn Malone. Elegance was Don Ward's Luders Naval Academy Yawl, Frolic which took the top slot in the CSA Cruising Division in a close finish only 30 seconds ahead of second placed Elethea, a Beneteau First 38.
Rick Gormley’s First 38, Elethea (left) and Don Ward’s Frolic, Luders Naval Academy Yawl - Winner of the CSA Cruising Division
Residents of Jolly Harbour could be forgiven for taking the sailing conditions for granted, but for any sailor more used to cold European waters - and there were plenty competing in this event - the 14 plus knot breeze and flat blue waters made for a perfect day on the water.
Chief Race Officer Paul Miller set a course with plenty of sailing angles, perfectly suiting Bernie Evan-Wong's Mumm 36 High Tension which showed her sports boat pedigree upwind and on the reaches.
High Tension led the fleet around the furthest mark of the course, the picturesque Sandy Island, just a few hundred metres across, which sits off the Antiguan west coast surrounded by perfectly clear turquoise water. Elethea was first to round in the Cruising Division.
Heading towards the finish line, shifty breezes off the entrance to Jolly Harbour made for some nail-biting guesses as to the finishing order as yachts were headed off their laylines. There was a tight battle on the approach to the finish between Geoffrey Pidduck's 6 metre Biwi Magic and Tanner Jones' J/30 Blue Peter. It looked to be a photo finish but Blue Peter made a clean crossing to take second overall in the Racing Division. Biwi Magic was built in 1979 and subsequently converted and sailed single-handed across the Atlantic by regatta measurer Tony Maidment. Geoffrey has sailed in all 21 of the Jolly Harbour Valentine's Regattas since the event began. 'It was a great race and very close on the water,' he said. 'We didn't have our best race but there's always tomorrow!' Geoffrey was in fact one of the founders of the event.
Another founder of the event, Hans Lammers was sharing the helming on Frolic. 'We had a fantastic start and it was good to have Hans on board guiding us,' said owner Don Ward. 'This is our first season of racing onboard Frolic and our self-tacking jib made the crew work pretty easy! The boat has undergone extensive restoration since I bought her and we've already competed in quite a few races this season.'
The crew from Antigua Yacht Club’s Antigua National Sailing Academy, Digicel Challenger, a Cork 1720 - Winners of CSA Racing Division
Two International Dragons enjoyed their own competition with Poul Hoj-Jensen's Half Moon taking the eventual lead with a minute and 35 seconds separation.
Today's race is the first of a three day event. Three or four shorter races are planned for tomorrow (Saturday 9th February) and three on Sunday. The Jolly Harbour Valentine's Regatta is also hosting a Rum Festival offering some of the best rums from all over the Caribbean. Regatta sponsors include founding partners Jolly Harbour Marina Village, Budget Marine, Jolly Harbour Marina, Jolly Harbour Yacht Club, Jolly Harbour Merchants' Association and Jolly Harbour Homeowners' Association. We couldn't do without Antigua and Barbuda Ministry of Tourism, Seahawk Paints, Pineapple Rentals, Townhouse Megastore, Digicel, Outdoor World Yamaha and Takumi.
Jolly Harbour Valentine Regatta and Rum Festival 2013