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2019 Superyacht Challenge Antigua - Day 1

by Louay Habib 31 Jan 2019 22:28 PST 30 January - 3 February 2019

Racing at the 9th edition of the Superyacht Challenge Antigua is under way with the fleet enjoying spectacular conditions off the south coast of Antigua. Race One was approximately 23 nautical miles with seven legs providing a full range of wind angles in solid trade winds. In the Corsairs Class, Nilaya won the first race by just 64 seconds after ORCsy time correction after a great battle with Rebecca. The 112ft (34m) German Frers designed sloop Spiip was third. In the Buccaneers Class, Kawil made the best start of the day and went on to win from Catalina. John McMonigall's Oyster 82 Zig Zag was third.

The 112ft (34m) sloop Nilaya, with Filip Balcaen at the helm, had a close battle with the 140ft (42m) German Frers ketch Rebecca. The Superyacht Challenge Antigua uses a staggered start, Nilaya was the last off but passed all of the fleet to take Line Honours, just in front of Rebecca.

Nilaya's afterguard includes the Volvo Ocean Race legend Bouwe Bekking who commented after the first race: "The rain before the start had an effect, and we had a few small shifts and one big one south during the middle of the race, but generally speaking we saw an average of about 17 knots. Our boat speed was good today, and it was a very enjoyable race."

Nilaya and Rebecca both made strategically good moves during the race, especially in Rendezvous Bay. Rebecca made one good call to stay offshore early in the race, with Nilaya making the right call inshore on the second beat in the same area.

The 112ft (34m) Sparkman & Stephens sloop Kawil was just three seconds shy of the line for Race One, extremely impressive for a superyacht with a displacement in excess of 100 tons. Kawil was an impressive sight achieving double-digit boat speed for most of the race. After over three hours of racing, the 148ft (45m) Dubois ketch Catalina was just five minutes ahead of Zig Zag after time correction.

"We got off to a great start, and we loved that!" enthused Spook after taking the win on Kawil. "The mark roundings were very exciting, the team performed very well today."

A Pre-regatta Briefing was held at the Admiral's Inn, Nelson's Dockyard, Antigua. Principal Race Officer John Coveney opened proceedings by welcoming the sailors, announcing the schedule for racing, and answering questions. International Judge Gordon Stredwick, emphasised that safety was the primary concern of everyone involved with the regatta.

The Superyacht Challenge Antigua is designed for the pure enjoyment of the participants and competitive racing is complimented by social occasions which allow the owners and crews to mingle.Prior to the start of racing a Welcome Cocktail Party was held at Boom Gunpowder House and was extremely well attended. Yacht owners, race crew, and invited guests, enjoyed a relaxed atmosphere with complimentary drinks and canapes. Racing is scheduled to continue on the second day, Friday 1st February, with more spectacular action for the magnificent superyachts in Antigua.

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