After a day of Lay Day fun on Pigeon Beach on Wednesday, Antigua Sailing Week returned with a vengeance yesterday with 6-8 foot seas and winds topping 30 knots testing crew and equipment as they raced off the south coast of Antigua.
Two inshore races were held today for division A, while division B boats had one race albeit with the course taking them off out to sea and the big swells. Spinnakers shredded, mainsails blew and deck hardware popped in winds that although strong were shifty as they swirled off the shore. After the first race in division A, there was a steady stream of boats heading back to Falmouth Harbour for repairs. One was Atalanta II, the fresh out of the box Farr 70 with Jim BRADY on main trim and sharing tactics with Mumm 30 world champion Luca SANTELLA. Launched March 21 in Newport, USA, and off on its delivery to Antigua April 4, her first regatta outing is also her shakedown sail - and a hard one at that.
Tom HILL'S Reichel-Pugh 75 Titan XXII reveled in the conditions, storming home to two wins that put her in second place in Big Boat Racing I. "We did a good job getting off the line. We made a game plan before the start that the pin end was favoured and thought that there'd be some nice shifts off the shore,"
said tactician, Peter HOLMBERG. "Good first legs and then when it's blowing this hard, the table turns our way a little on the downhill. They [Morning Glory and Pyewacket] get us upwind still but once it gets over 25 [knots] Titan will get up and plane and go almost as fast or faster than them downwind. We maximized the downwinds, went full speed and tried not to crash."
Titan sailed a reasonably clean race barring one broach out of a gybe caused by a jammed sheet that cost them 20-30 seconds. Pyewacket continued to have problems including a torn spinnaker at the first windward mark of the first race. Morning Glory had problems too including a spinnaker drop that went awry. At the end of the day's racing Morning Glory leads by five points and barring disaster is in good shape to take class and fleet prizes tomorrow.
In the battle of the Swans in Big Boat II, Chippewa and Aspiration each won a race yesterday, Chippewa leads the class by two points but it all comes down to the final day today between the two.
In Racing III, Transpac 52 Rosebud, Ker 55 Aera and Swan 56 Lolita were first, second and third respectably in both races. At twenty-seven points behind Morning Glory, Frank SAVAGE'S Lolita is out of the running for the fleet prize but is fifth overall.
Beneteau First Class 10 Guardian Star opened up her lead the "Caribbean class", Racing IV with a second and a first place today. Carlo FALCONE'S Caccia Alla Volpe and Dougie MYERS' Legacy tussled their way around the courses today in some close racing that resulted in a protest that was thrown out by the jury. Legacy is second in class, three points ahead of Caccia and a battle will reign today. Jamie HOLMES' Lost Horizon II did not finish the first race and never made it back for the second and is out of the running.
With a second and a first today, J/44 Mabuhay II's grip on Racer/Cruiser I looks insurmountable, six points head of Swan 48 Crescendo. Matt ABBISS' Disco Inferno is lying third.
John DUFFY'S Jagga from the UK notched another two wins on its wheel today and is tied for first place with the BVI's Pipe Dream with Peter Haycraft at the wheel. Tango Mike and white Lady are tied for third.
Donald TOFIAS' W-76 White Wings earned her first win yesterday in Performance Cruiser I on the division B course. Back after a Caribbean sabbatical, White Wings is competing as non-spinnaker boat for the first time because flying one "hammered" its rating. "But you still have to go downwind,"
said Donald, "so we elected to use two headsails and a spinnaker pole and it has worked out very well".
"Today we were going 11 1/2 knots downwind on that long leg."
Having taken the gun three times so far, today was the first win on corrected time as well. "There are a lot of small boats in the fleet, there are a few boats that we owe twenty and thirty minutes to that we have to beat by twenty or thirty minutes and the races aren't long enough to stretch it out especially to windward but we're having a good time."
Pavlova II, Richard BURBIDGE'S Swan 43, continues to lead Performance Cruiser III after another win yesterday with Antigua's Trouble and Sky Hunter from the UK tied for second place.
David CULLEN'S Farrfly has a ten point lead over La Bauling in Cruising I after another win today. Doug De Cluitt's Columbia 50 is third.
Beneteau 50 Island Flyer continues to cement her lead in Bareboat I taking lin hours and securing her lead on corrected time. Nanuk trails by five points with Grant four points behind her.
Antigua veteran Jan SODERBERG has found his feet with Rosco in Bareboat II winning by a substantial margin today. Helidore and Foudre will be battling it for second place tomorrow.
DSD Carnival and Durley Dene are four for four in Bareboat III and VI respectively. DSD Carnival lead the Bareboat fleet by a comfortable margin of 10 points with Soderberg's Rosco second. Carrie On, another Bareboat III boat is third in fleet.
Dudi COLETTI'S Laurel leads Bareboat IV and Alexander PFEIFFER'S XL leads Bareboat V. Special mention goes to Geomat Blanchet and SAP Blanchet in Bareboat IV. These entries from Guadeloupe are crewed by school children sailing for the first time with their teachers at the helm.
Today sees the last official day of racing with the Ocean Race. Saturday, the prize giving is preceded with the Second Annual Bareboat Challenge Championship Race.
The Lord Nelson's Ball and prize giving wraps the event on Saturday evening. Full results are available on the event website at the address below.