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The Superyacht Spirit - Superyacht Challenge Antigua Final day

by Louay Habib 5 Feb 2018 09:35 PST 31 January - 4 February 2018

The Caribbean superyacht season kicked off in fine style with the 2018 Superyacht Challenge Antigua. Now its eighth year, the Superyacht Challenge Antigua is free from commercial endorsements, and has one clear objective; to provide all the facilities to stage an ideal event for an exclusive selection of yachts, where fair racing and good companionship are valued above all else.

The regatta once again attracted a magnificent fleet, including five previous winners. Dazzling yachts ranging in size from 82ft (25m) to 172ft (52m) took part in four days of racing along the stunning south coast of Antigua. Five races were scored using the new 2018 ORCsy Superyacht rule. The 90ft Hoek designed sloop Acadia was second in 2017 and made no mistake this year winning the Buccaneers Class with straight bullets.The 112ft German Frers designed sloop Spiip, successfully defended their Corsairs class win from 2017.

Corsairs Class

Over five highly competitive races, Spiip won the class in the last race, and was voted by competitors and the race committee, as having competed in the Spirit of the Regatta, both afloat and ashore, winning The Gosnell Trophy.

"This has been a really enjoyable regatta, and that is why we keep coming back." commented Spiip's navigator, Campbell Field. "To win our class was very rewarding especially against well prepared, and well sailed boats. To win the Gosnell Trophy has made this event all the more memorable. To be recognised by our competition, and the race organisers, is very special and much appreciated by Spiip's owner and all of the team."

The Corsairs Class featured examples of the world's most outstanding performance superyachts including the 172ft Hoek designed Elfje, which placed second on countback from the 140ft German Frers Rebecca. The 105ft Bill Dixon designed sloop, Danneskjold was the best starting yacht of the regatta, and will go on to compete in the gruelling RORC Caribbean 600 later in February. The Corsairs Class was incredibly competitive with the overall lead changing hands at the end of every race, many races were decided by just a few seconds.

The Superyacht Challenge Antigua uses the ORCsy Rule to decide race winners. "Just look at how close the results are and you can see that this rule is working." commented the regatta organiser Stan Pearson, who had been at the helm of Rebecca. "The Corsairs Class was decided on the last race, and right at the end the top three positions all changed. I only wish we had stuck to the old format of a three day regatta, because we would have won!"

The Buccaneers Class

Acadia put in an outstanding performance in the Corsairs Class winning all five races against well sailed opposition, including Oyster 82 Zig Zag, class runner up in 2016, and the unique Dominique Presles designed 102ft ketch Maramar, a winner in 2014. Zig Zag was second and owner John McMonigall and his team plan to be back with a new Oyster 885, which is in build at Oyster Yachts.

"This is a nice event; low key, great racing and fits in really well with our schedule. Our owner likes to race but also enjoys remote cruising, and by racing Arcadia it lets us test the limits, so we really know what the boat can handle, especially when we plan to visit the higher latitudes later this season." commented Arcadia's skipper Heinrich Muller.

Paul Deeth, proprietor of Admiral's Inn, and founder of the Superyacht Challenge Antigua, was at the helm of Marama for the regatta.

"The regatta has stuck to the ethos of providing fair sailing and enjoyable social occasions. Designed solely for the pleasure of superyacht owners, their guests and crew, it is a simple recipe, and one that the organising committee has no intention of changing. Behind the scenes the committee and all the staff put in a tremendous amount of effort to ensure that the regatta is enjoyable, and I know I speak for all of the sailors involved; it is very much appreciated."

Whilst the racing is conducted within the confines of safe and fair sailing, there are no inhibitions ashore. Every evening has a party with awards for the Famous Cook Off, the best fancy dress and the Loudest Caribbean shirt. This year a new fun-filled paddle board competition was a huge success, and raised over 3000 EC$ towards the creation of a properly managed marine park in English Harbour. Party prize winners are given awards at the Prize Giving held at the Admiral's Inn, and they receive as much applause and cheers as the class winners. However the biggest cheer of the ceremony was for Spiip, and not just for winning the Corsairs Class. The standing ovation was for their great contribution to the spirit of the Superyacht Challenge Antigua.

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