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An interview with Carlo Falcone about the 2019 Antigua Classic Yacht Regatta

by David Schmidt 15 Apr 2019 08:00 PDT April 17-23, 2019
Racecourse action at the 2018 Antigua Classic Yacht Regatta © Image courtesy of Beverly Factor

If you love classic yachts, Caribbean culture, and gorgeous, tradewind-fueled, warm-water sailing conditions, it’s almost impossible to beat the Antigua Classic Yacht Regatta. This annual regatta regularly attracts some of the prettiest wooden boats afloat, as well as some of the world’s most dedicated wooden-boat sailors, with its promise of well-organized racing on one of the world’s most picturesque racecourses.

Not surprisingly, this year’s event (April 17-23, 2019) is shaping up to be as fun and competitive as ever, packed with events including concours d’elegance judging, a singlehanded race, four scheduled buoy races, a parade of classic yachts, gig racing, and a cream tea party at the Admiral’s Inn at Nelson’s Dockyard.

Nautical eye candy will include historic classic yachts such as Mary Rose, a 64.5-foot Herreshoff-designed schooner from 1925; Sumurun, a 118-foot Fife-designed ketch from 1914, and Eilean, a 72-foot Fife-designed ketch, as well as Spirit of Tradition boats (read: new[er] boats built to classic lines and sometimes modern materials) such as Athos, a 203-foot Hoek schooner from 2011; Blackfish, a Jim Taylor-designed 49-foot sloop from 2017, and the Spirit of Bermuda, which is a 116-foot, three-masted schooner from 2006.

Additionally, spectators can look forward to the sight of the beautiful International Dragon Class boats, which have been an important part of sailboat racing in Antigua for decades.

I checked in with Carlo Falcone, race chairman of the 2019 Antigua Classic Yacht Regatta (April 17-23) and a longtime competitor and former Antigua Classic Yacht Regatta winner via email, to learn more about this Bucket List-worthy regatta.

How many Antigua Classic Yacht Regattas have you participated in? Also, what was the first year that you raced in this event?

I have participated since 1993 when I bought my 80-foot vintage yawl Mariella, a Fife design built by Alfred Mylne in 1938. That year the amazing 1927 motor yacht Talitha G was the Committee Boat and it was truly spectacular.

I have competed in every Antigua Classic Yacht Regatta since except for three- once because I was sailing her around the world at the time and the other two because Mariella was in Italy where she was being repaired after hurricane damage.

How would you describe the Antigua Classic Yacht Regatta to someone who has never raced in the regatta?

It’s like someone with a passion for flowers being in the midst of a beautiful garden! Such lovely weather, so many beautiful boats!

Do you have any advice or racecourse tips for first-time competitors?

Follow the rules and enjoy the beautiful trade wind and superb warm, sunny Caribbean sailing conditions.

How would you describe the level of competition at Antigua Classic Yacht Regatta compared to other classic-yacht regattas?

All Classic Yacht regattas are highly competitive and ours is no exception.

What kinds of weather conditions are common at the Antigua Classic Yacht Regatta? Also, what’s the best-case and worst-case scenarios in terms of weather?

We have perfect tradewinds. The best case is when they consistently blow at a reasonable speed able to be handled by all boats; the worse-case scenario is flat calm–luckily, [flat calms are] very rare!

What’s your favorite part or aspect of the Antigua Classic Yacht Regatta? (Maybe this is a mini distance race or a day of racing around the buoys or maybe it’s the onshore/social aspects?)

Racing in perfect conditions and returning to the comradeship and camaraderie on the Antigua Yacht Club Marina docks and meeting many interesting sailors and admiring the many different types of beautiful yachts.

What are your team’s goals for the 2019 Antigua Classic Yacht Regatta and what kind of training/practice are you investing to help make these goals a reality?

Mariella is always racing and travelling, over a 1,000 miles a year, so the team is always ready to go racing! Last summer she was racing in New England, next summer in the Mediterranean.

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