Wonderful yachts and passionate sailors, from all over the world, are gathering in Antigua for the 28th edition of the Antigua Classic Yacht Regatta, sponsored by Panerai. The event attracts an astounding collection of yachts from almighty J-Class and magnificent schooners to beautiful petite pride and joys. Antigua Classic Yacht Regatta is a unique event, an eclectic mix of owners and crew, racing traditionally built yachts, enjoying spectacular sailing and playful parties ashore. 'Classics is a rare rendezvous of breathtaking yachts from both sides of the Atlantic and further afield. Newcomer to the regatta, Leo Goolden, will be racing his 24ft Folkboat Lorema. Leo sailed to the Regatta from Cornwall, England, crossing the Atlantic single-handed without an engine, guided by compass and sexton alone.
Four days of racing are scheduled, preceded by the single-handed race and the Lunenburg Shipyard Alliance Concours d'Elegance. Yachts will be divided into different classes; Traditional, Vintage, Classic, Classic GRP and Spirit of Tradition. Not all of the yachts are wooden, some date back to the 1900’s, others are modern-day reproductions. However, all of the yachts are descendent or examples of traditionally rigged displacement sailboats. Each yacht has its own fascinating story, this individuality is part of the magic of ‘Classics and the dockside tales continue well into the night-time festivities with the aid of a few Mount Gay rums.
The objective for Antigua Classic Yacht Regatta is the same as it has always been; to encourage sailing in the Caribbean in a safe, fun regatta with the emphasis on sailing together rather than on racing but ‘Classics brings out the competitive spirit in many of the players.
The 2014 winner of the Panerai Trophy, Ralph Isham's 105ft Ketch Whitehawk, is returning to Antigua Classic Yacht Regatta. Launched in 1978 in Rockport, Maine, Whitehawk is one of Bruce King's finest designs. Whitehawk will be racing in the Classic division, as well as the beautiful Nat Benjamin designed 65ft schooner, Juno, commissioned by the owner Robert Soros in 2001. Juno is a regular participant and has won class on two occasions but newcomer to the Regatta is the Olin Stephen's designed 56ft yawl, Argyll. Launched in 1946, Argyll has been beautifully restored and recently claimed second place in the 2015 Panerai Transat Classique.
Three magnificent masterpieces returning to the regatta are the Dijkstra J Class sloop Rainbow, the 140ft Frers ketch Rebecca and the Herreshoff Classic schooner Elena.
180ft schooner Elena, launched in 2009 by Factoria Naval Marin, is a meticulous recreation of the Herreshoff design that won the 1928 Transatlantic Race. This will be the third occasion that Elena has raced at Antigua Classics, driven by 2,000 square meters of sail area, the schooner will be an impressive sight.
140ft ketch Rebecca, designed by German Frers and launched in 1999, has been a regular participant for many years, winning class on two occasions. Built at Pendennis shipyard, she is without doubt one of the finest modern sailing yachts in the world. The fine lines of Rebecca’s hull, including a glorious counter, give her immense power and grace and her curved teak deck, extending from stern to bow, is a magical platform.
J Class Rainbow JH2, commissioned in 2007 and re-designed by Dykstra Naval Architects, according to the original design of William Starling Burgess Rainbow JH2 was launched in 2012, by Holland Jachtbouw. Rainbow was second in class at last year's Regatta by a single point. Based upon the lines of the original 1934 America’s Cup winner, the spectacular 130ft sloop features a racing hull with a superyacht interior and unique hybrid propulsion and power system with a grand prix deck layout and carbon rig.
The 36ft classic sloop, Ruffian will be one of smallest yachts at the regatta, launched in 1961 and designed by Francis Kinney. Ruffian, skippered by Martin Halpern won last year's Classic GRP Class B. The 54ft, John Alden designed, Desiderata, skippered by Stuart Armstrong also returns to defend the Classic GRP A class. The 75ft pilot house ketch, Dragonera, designed by Joel White, is likely to be the largest yacht racing in the GRP class. A number of Carriacou sloops will be racing in the Traditional Class, Alexis Andrews’ Genesis and Exodus, both built by Alwyn Enoe, are early entries and will be joined by the 54ft classic Windjammer, skippered by Ashley Kerr from Queensland, Australia
In the Vintage Class, the immaculate1925 Herreschoff, Mary Rose returns having won class last year and has competed at the last four editions of Antigua Classic Yacht Regatta. Richard Oswald's Coral of Cowes was second to Mary Rose last year and returns hoping to go one better. Designed by Fred Shepherd and launched in 1902, the 80ft gaff schooner, Coral of Cowes, will be one of the oldest yachts competing at the regatta. Robbie Fabre's 42ft German Frers, Vagabondo II will also be competing this year. The 1945 Marconi ketch completed this year's gruelling RORC Caribbean 600. Mat Barker's 65ft sloop, The Blue Peter, designed by Alfred Mylne in 1929 returns to the Regatta. The Blue Peter raced across the Atlantic in the 2015 Panerai Transat Classique and has been racing at regattas in the Caribbean all season.
Racing starts on the 16th April with the Classic Single-Handed Race, followed by four days of racing for the full fleet. The courses romantically named; Old Road, Butterfly, Windward and the Kenny Coombs Memorial Cannon Race, are designed to take the best advantages of wind, sea, scenery and skill. Participants of the regatta are entitled to free dockage throughout the regatta through the generosity of the Antigua Yacht Club Marina for first four days and via National Parks Authority in Nelson's Dockyard for the last two days.
The social programme kicks off with the Welcome Party at the Antigua Yacht Club on Wednesday 15th April. Every evening, the fun continues ashore with musical nights and social occasions for hundreds of competitors, friends and family. The exclusive Owners Party on Saturday, hosted by EFG Bank, will be at the stylish South Point waterfront restaurant, with invited guests enjoying delights provided by four international chefs competing in the S.Pellegrino Cooking Cup. The first ten yachts to enter for the Mount Gay Rum Cocktail Competition on Friday will mix cocktails on the dock for the jury to decide on the winner followed by complimentary Dark & Stormies for all to enjoy.
Spectators in Antigua can view all races from high points along the south coast; Fort Charlotte, Shirley Heights and Block House. The Parade of Classics in Nelson’s Dockyard on Sunday 19th April offers a wonderful sight from the lawn at the Copper and Lumber Store and Antigua Slipway.
Another spectacle this year will be the 179’ square-rigged Picton Castle. Built in 1928 in North England as a fishing/cargo boat she now works as a sail training tall ship accommodating up to 40 trainees. Although not competing, she and her crew will participate in many events including the Parade of Classics.
This year the Prize Giving will take place after the final race on Monday 20th April in Nelson's Dockyard. The Antigua Classic Yacht Regatta concludes on the 21st April with afternoon Gig Racing and Cream Tea Party at the Admiral’s Inn, and a Tug-of-War in Nelson’s Dockyard.
For full information about Antigua Classic Yacht Regatta, including the full schedule of racing and social events visit www.antiguaclassics.com