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An interview with Jaime Torres on the 2022 Antigua Sailing Week

by David Schmidt 27 Apr 2022 08:00 PDT April 30 - May 6, 2022
Antigua Sailing Week © Paul Wyeth / pwpictures.com

Three years is a rather long time to go without getting to enjoy one of the Caribbean’s best regattas, but that’s the fate that befell Antigua Sailing Week (April 30-May 6, 2022), given its late appearance on the Caribbean racing calendar relative to when Covid-19 reared its insidious face in early 2020. Similarly, “ASW 2021” was also a Covid casualty, as were many international regattas, but now the regatta is bouncing back with their 53rd edition, which has attracted more that 90 yachts.

These range in grin factor from a handful of Melges 24s to a Volvo Open 70, with plenty of fast-moving hardware in the 30-, 40-, 50-, and 60-foot ranges.

I checked in with Jaime Torres, race manager of the 2022 edition of Antigua Sailing Week, via email, to learn more this classic springtime Caribbean regatta.

What kinds of numbers and interest levels are you seeing ahead of the 2022 Antigua Sailing Week compared with the 2018 and 2019 editions?

We have the same level of interest—as we write this, we have 91 entries, which is great considering we are in recovery, post COVID.

What kinds of boats are you expecting on the starting line(s) ?

We have wide assortment race boats from dedicated carbon round-the-world racers to sportboats and everything in between.

We continue to attract a large fleet of mid-size cruiser racers in great numbers, which are our core competitors. We have the biggest bareboat fleet in all of the Caribbean, which are fiercely competitive.

What kinds of on-the-water racing can attending skippers and crews look forward to? Are we talking about mostly W-L racing, or will you also run races that use the islands as turning marks?

We expect high quality windward-leeward racing with dedicated finish boat for signal vessel A, as well as having new marks in place. Plus, we added a race committee’s choice course, as a way to address unusual wind directions.

Are there any new additions or important changes to the 2022 regatta, compared to previous editions?

On the water, we have the new Mini-Round Antigua Race, a shorter distance race planned to suit the cruising classes entered for the event, and allowing them a tune up race prior to the full week of ASW races.

The first Women’s Race Day will take place as a way of inspiring women into the sport on Thursday 5th May, a new separate finish boat is in place to improve our ability to shorten the time lag between races, thus allowing more and longer races each day.

We will be hosting our third Youth to Keel day Y2K, where more than 30 Antiguan youths will be out experiencing keel boat racing, some for the very first time.

What about onshore entertainment? What can sailors look forward to once the finishing guns have gone silent each day?

We will again host Daily Prize GIvings at Antigua Yacht Club, with bars open from 3pm and Prizes awarded at 5pm, the Opening Party and Peters and May Prize Giving will also take place at Antigua Yacht Club.

Reggae in the Park, our mid-week concert is moving back up to Shirley Heights, the most iconic view in Antigua followed by Lay Day, the mid-week rest day with fun dinghy racing and water activities at Pigeon Point and the Final Prize Giving will be in UNESCO-designated Nelson’s Dockyard, where the traditional silverware that Antigua is known for will be awarded to winners.

I realize that the pandemic is a fast-moving target, but can you please tell me about any lessons that you and the other organizers have learned about safety running a regatta amidst a global heath disaster?

From our Caribbean peers, the main message is, people are desperate [to] race, and we are RACING.

Can you please tell us about any efforts that the club has made over the last year or two to further green-up the regatta and make it an even more sustainable event?

We have created new sustainable trophies made from local Mahogany wood that will be awarded to all class winners this year.

Interestingly in planning the event with a three-year lag form the last time, we realize how far Antigua itself has come – since 2019, no Styrofoam [have been] in use, no plastic cups, plastic bags, and no plastic straws, island-wide.

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