The 30th Antigua Classic Yacht Regatta, the first in this year's series of the Panerai Classic Yachts Challenge kicked off on Wednesday with a backdrop of spectacular vessels flanking Nelson’s Dockyard.
Helen Spooner, long time supporter of greeted almost 50 stunning classics and their faithful crew by acknowledging the effort in joining the event, saying, “Some of you have beat a very long way to join us. We honour your commitment to your boat. We know what it takes to maintain a classic vessel and we salute your vision and enterprising spirit.”
Close start of the Single-Handed Race - photo by Jan Hein
Vessels travelled from all around the globe to be here, some arrived in containers, a few cruised north from down island and many sailed from the States, Canada, Bermuda, Europe and beyond. One came from the Pacific Ocean via the Panama Canal and another took the longer route around the Horn.
The fleet consists of almost 50 sailing yachts, including the 72 foot gaff yawl, Anne Marie, built in 1911 and the youngest entrant Chloe Giselle built in 2015, a 65 foot Sean McMillan Spirit Sloop. Overall sizes range from 30 - 178 feet, with build dates spanning a century and every manner of rigs and sails.
Of note are the 79’ Alfred Mylne yawl, Mariella, a vision of pure elegance after an 18 month restoration in Italy. Meanwhile Anne Marie, the 1911, 57’ Harris gaff yawl, is actually on her way back to the UK for major works, but still charmed judges and onlookers familiar with her history. The Concours sponsor this year is the lovingly restored 62’ Herreschoff schooner, Mary Rose.
The beautiful Mariella at the Concours d’Elégance judging
Favourable weather and ENE winds of 10-14 knots greeted the Single-Handed Race, with 15 yachts sailing a course set for upwind tacking contests and a run downwind. However, conditions discouraged reefing, giving lone sailors a workout and a half. Claas Lehmann, owner of 43 foot Hera built by Abeking & Rasmussen ran a virtual marathon while handling running backs, a jib pole and a full suit of sales.
Racing continues through to Tuesday 25 April.
Nelson's Dockyard - Times Past
To commemorate this momentous, the venue has shifted to the Dockyard, an elegantly restored UNESCO World Heritage Site. Rare photos of the grounds, taken in the early 1950s by legendary yachtsman and historian, Desmond Nicholson, are on display at the Copper and Lumber Store Hotel in a show entitled, “Times Past.”
A look at Nelson's Dockyard in the early 1950s. Photo by Desmond Nicholson
Camaraderie on the water and ashore at the ACYR