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Sweet 'n Spicy start to Antigua Sailing Week

by Louay Habib 28 Apr 18:42 PDT 27 April - 3 May 2024

Sunday, April 28: Racing action got under way for the 55th edition of Antigua Sailing Week with English Harbour Rum Race Day. The international fleet got their first taste of racing in tropical heat on the stunning South Coast of Antigua. An easterly breeze of 7-13 knots with a flat sea state provided sweet conditions, but the competition was full of spice.

The ASW Race Committee led by Principal Race Officer Neil Andrew, set a cocktail of courses including tight coastal short races, and longer races, taking the fleet to the deep water marks of Antigua Sailing Week. Start lines were humming with close competition right through the 88 boat fleet. Stop watches were buzzing with several class wins by seconds after CSA time correction.

Congratulations to all of the provisional Class Winners on English Harbour Rum Race Day: Wavewalker, Lee Overlay Partners II, Pepsi Zéro-Montebello, Sang Neuf, Clippers Ship Daub 6, Whiplash, McFly on El Ocaso, Dawn Treader, Credit Mutuel Jivaro, Strada Geothermal Escapado, Absolute Properties (Blue Peter), Huey Too, Saida, Imagine of Falmouth, Braque-KH+P, Lunatic Fringe Island Time, Culebra-KH+P, Nevis KH+P, Barbuda KH+P, Jabberwock, Team Budget Marine Oozlumbird, and Donna.

Provisional results available here.

The Windward Course featured the majority of the CSA Racing Classes. In CSA 1, Woody Cullen's Swan 58 Wavewalker (USA) won the first race by a handsome margin; Volvo Ocean 65 Sisi (AUT), skippered by Oliver Kobale was second. The second race of the day was close to a dead-heat for three boats. Adrian Lee's Swan 60 Lee Overlay Partners II (GBR) was the winner by just two seconds from Sir Hugh Bailey's Farr 45 Rebel (ANT). In third by just 20 seconds was Wavewalker. After two races, Lee Overlay Partners II leads the big boat class on countback from Wavewalker.

Racing on board Adrian Lee's Swan 60 Lee Overlay Partners II was his 19-year-old son Alex Lee. The marketing student from Dublin is taking part in his first Antigua Sailing Week. Alex trims the main under the watchful eye of Volvo Ocean race sailor and Maxi World Champion Jim Carroll.

"I don't have much big boat experience. I love foiling dinghies but that was really exciting today," smiled Alex Lee. "The first race didn't go well after the start; we went inshore but a big rain squall favoured the boats offshore. In the second race we went inshore again and this time it paid. The finish was ridiculously close; to win it by just two seconds was fantastic. After racing, there is a great vibe at the Antigua Yacht Club, everybody is so friendly."

In CSA 2, the first race of the regatta went to J/122 McFly on El Ocaso (GBR), sailed by Tony & Sally Mack. In second place, just over two minutes behind after CSA time correction was Jim Vos' RP37 Warthog (ANT). The second race of the day produced a thrilling finish. Ed Bell's JPK 1180 Dawn Treader (GBR) corrected out to win by just six seconds from McFly on El Ocaso. Dawn Treader scored a fifth in the first race but finished the first day of racing in second position. Warthog is third after two races, but only on countback from Sir Richard Matthews' ST370 Holding Pattern (GBR) and Donald Nicholson's J/121 Apollo (USA).

"We knew when the classes were announced we were in a competitive class and that was certainly the case today," commented Tony Mack, driver on McFly on El Ocaso. "It is pretty clear now that we will have to sail really well to win this class. Any mistake and we will get punished. We had really great conditions today, especially as back home we would be racing in the Spring Series when the water and the air temperature is freezing!"

The Rendezvous Course featured three Bareboat Classes, two Club Classes and the Legacy Class. In Bareboat 1, Tim Ford's Dufour 520 Braque-KH+P (GBR) won the first race of Antigua Sailing Week. Second was Patrick Henrikson's Dufour 520 Botero (SWE). Anne-Marie Petersohn's Hopper-KH+P (GER) won the second race with Braque-KH+P second.

Tim Ford's team racing on Braque-KH+P are all from Dorset in the UK and go by the name 'Poole Pirates'. "We had a really good start in the first race but we were a bit early for the second start and that meant we lost our speed as we approached the line," commented Tim Ford. "Our boat speed was really good and we managed to make up for the bad start and finish the race in second place, all credit to the crew. As Poole Pirates we are already in fancy dress for tonight's celebrations!"

After racing, the Regatta Bars were busy on the Antigua Yacht Club Lawn, followed by a packed house for the English Harbour Rum Daily Prize Giving.

Antigua Distillery is the purveyor of the award-winning English Harbour 5 Year Old Rum and every race winner at Antigua Sailing Week wins a bottle of English Harbour 5 Year Old Rum. Lisa Farara, Executive Director of Antigua Distillery is a direct descendant of the company's founders; her Grandfather Quin Farara started producing rum in Antigua in 1932.

"No visit to Antigua would be complete without sampling some local rum," smiled Lisa Farara at the English Harbour Rum Daily Prize Giving. "We chose the name English Harbour because it is the location where Antigua welcomes people from overseas. The rum's character is laid back and friendly, 'a welcome to my home'. English Harbour Rum's long association with Antigua Sailing Week lets us reach out to visitors and we have both grown together over the last three decades. Above all, English Harbour Rum is a part of Antigua that all the sailors can take home with them, especially if they win races!"

After the English Harbour Rum Daily Prize Giving the party continued at the AYCM Platform with a fancy dress Pirate Nite! Party-band HyperActive played a live set to get the dance floor pumping. Racing at Antigua Sailing Week continues on Monday 29 April with Axxess Marine Youth 2 Keel Boat Race Day.

For more information about Antigua Sailing Week including racing, watching the action and the fun-packed shoreside entertainment, visit the official website: sailingweek.com.

Follow on social media: #antiguasailingweek #ASW55 #racechasecelebrate #asw2024

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