Antigua Sailing Week 2014 - can be considered one of the world's most international regattas.
Of the 73 entries so far, an astonishing 21 different countries is represented. From outside the Caribbean, there are competing yachts from: Argentina, Australia, Austria, Canada, France, Germany, Great Britain, Holland, Ireland, Lithuania, Norway, Russia, Spain, Sweden and the United States of America. Six Caribbean nations are also represented: Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Grenada, Puerto Rico, St. Maarten and Trinidad and Tobago.
Two British yachts may be the fastest monohulls competing this year. Mike Slade's world record breaking Farr 100, ICAP Leopard is one of the biggest and latest entries, with a world-class international crew led by Boat Captain, Chris Sherlock. ICAP Leopard will be pitting their wits against another canting keel carbon flyer, Andrew Budgen's Volvo 70, Monster Project, which has claimed the Round Barbados record and Round St. Maarten record this year.
'ICAP Leopard has been busy in the Caribbean, both racing and cruising and I can't think of a better way to finish the season than by participating in Antigua Sailing Week,' commented ICAP Leopard's Chris Sherlock. 'Antigua is our home in the Caribbean and Antigua Sailing Week is the last big event; it's the curtain call for the Caribbean racing season. The sailing conditions really suit us and no doubt we will be enjoying the party atmosphere ashore with all our friends in Antigua.'
'We’ve really enjoyed all of the Caribbean racing and always planned to finish the season in style at Antigua Sailing Week,' commented Monster Project's Andrew Budgen. 'After our successful racing with mixed groups at the Caribbean 600 and the Sint Maarten Regatta, we decided that rather than limiting ourselves to a whole boat charter for Antigua Sailing Week, we will open the boat up to individuals and small groups as well. Antigua Sailing Week is one of the biggest yacht racing events of the Caribbean season and includes five days of exciting short-course racing around the buoys, as well as a Yachting World Round Antigua Race the day before the regatta. We’re really looking forward to returning to Antigua for some more racing, especially against the likes of ICAP Leopard.'
Sixteen yachts, 50 feet or over have already entered the regatta, forming one of the largest big boat fleets to race in the Caribbean in recent years. John Burnie has competed at Antigua Sailing Week since 1974 and will once again skipper the Frers 94, Bristolian. 'Antigua Sailing Week is the iconic regatta of the Caribbean and one that I am very fond of. Over the years the yachts have got bigger and bigger and there is no better place to race in the Caribbean at the end of the season than Antigua. Bristolian will be moored in Historic Nelson’s Dockyard, English Harbour; amazing surroundings with a great party atmosphere - it is what Caribbean racing is all about.'
As many as 50 Oysters Yachts are expected to be in Antigua prior to Antigua Sailing Week. Three Oyster yachts have already entered the regatta and more are expected over the coming weeks. Campbell Field, racing skipper of Oyster 82 Starry Night commented: 'We are really looking forward to Antigua Sailing Week this year and wishing for fair winds for all the fleet. With the Oyster World Rally finishing in Antigua and the Oyster Caribbean Regatta only a few weeks before Antigua Sailing Week, it is a great opportunity for these yachts to join the great racing Sailing Week offers - a class of Oysters would provide great racing of similar type yachts and increase the fun factor for everyone.'
Highly competitive classes are expected for yachts under 50ft as well. Piet Vroon's Ker 46, Tonnerre de Breskens 3 will be making its debut at Antigua Sailing Week, although Piet Vroon has competed in the past.
'It has been a few years since I have competed at Antigua Sailing Week and the new style of courses is the main reason we are coming back. Racing along the Antiguan coastline is much more appealing to me than windward leeward racing around buoys,' commented Piet Vroon. 'The racing is far more tactical and far more scenic as well; the crew really enjoyed the RORC Caribbean 600 and we are delighted to be returning to Antigua.'
Richard Wesslund's crew will be returning to Antigua Sailing Week with a new J/122, El Ocaso. In their previous boat, the team from Florida won the Lord Nelson Trophy in 2012 and was second in class last year. The new El Ocaso was in fine form earlier this month, winning Most Worthy Performance Overall at the St. Maarten Regatta. Leo van den Thillart's American Kernan 47, True, will be racing this year. The high performance carbon yacht will be one of the fastest yachts under 50ft and the crew will include South African born Volvo Ocean Race and Farr 40 veteran, Jono Swain.
Philippe Falle of Deep Blue Racing will be defending his CSA 4 title with Grand Soleil 43, Quokka 8. CSA 4 went to the wire last year with a final race showdown with two First 40s. Southern Child and Lancelot II will take up the contest once again this year. Meanwhile, Jonty Layfield's brand new Azuree 46, Sleeper, will be making its Antigua Sailing Week debut.
Antigua Sailing Week boasts a number of highly coveted sailing trophies which date back to the event’s early days, including Best Caribbean Boat. Geoffrey Pidduck's six Metre, Biwi Magic, won the award last year and this year there are a number of contenders for the prize with many more local Caribbean yachts expected to enter the regatta in the coming weeks.
Peter Morris' Frers 43, Jaguar from Trinidad was in fine form recently taking the honour of Boat of the Week at Grenada Sailing Week. Alex Johnstone's Bluewater Sailing pushed Jaguar all the way in a very competitive class and the two yachts will continue their duel at Antigua Sailing Week.
John Gifford from St. Maarten will skipper the Melges 24, Amcon Sailing Team, which has a crew of young sailors from St. Maarten, most of whom came up through the youth sailing program at the Sint Maarten Yacht Club. Peter Lewis' much travelled J/105, Whistler will be representing Barbados at the regatta.
Chairman of the Regatta Organising Committee, Kathy Lammers, is happy with the way the fleet is developing. 'We’re delighted with the way the entry list is shaping up this year. We have a broad cross section of boats and expect to have highly competitive classes across the fleet. Of course we’re very pleased to see ICAP Leopard on the entry list again this year along with the likes of Monster Project. And we’re very excited to welcome Tonnerre de Breskens 3 to Antigua Sailing Week for the first time ever! With almost 30 entries already in for the Yachting World Round Antigua Race, we expect that the long-standing race record could fall this year if the conditions are right!'
With just over one month to go until the start of the 47th edition of Antigua Sailing Week, there is still time to experience the Caribbean's longest running and most celebrated regatta. Antigua Sailing Week boasts a number of highly competitive race boat charter companies. Last year 22 yachts were raced by teams or individuals who used this convenient way of participating in one of the world's most famous regattas without the logistics of bringing their own yacht to Antigua.