Alinghians Brad BUTTERWORTH and Peter HOLMBERG are just two of the names that are planning to race in the Antigua Sailing Week from 25 March to 3 April in the Caribbean.
More so than other regatta in the Caribbean, the crew lists for this world-renowned regatta can read like a Who's Who of the international racing scene.
Butterworth, tactician on the America's Cup winning team will be calling the shots on Aspiration, a Swan 86 which is under new ownership since its last foray onto Antigua's race courses in 1999. Two-time Olympic gold medallist Steve BENJAMIN will be sharing the helm with Aspiration's new owner Dr Alex HOFFMANN from the Societe Nautique de Geneve in Switzerland. Campbell FIELD from Team News Corp's entry in the 2001-2002 Volvo Ocean Race is also onboard.
Peter HOLMBERG, the recently signed helmsman for Alinghi and the Caribbean's top sailing export, is tactician on Tom HILL'S Reichel/Pugh 75 Titan 12. "It's going to feel great racing at home again in the Caribbean, and especially more so on a hot new Caribbean boat,"
said Holmberg. "I'm still trying to have a relatively quiet year and recharge my batteries, so truly looking forward to some serious yet fun racing down here."
Clay DEUTSCH'S Swan 68 Chippewa will be making her fourth appearance in Antigua this year. "We are very excited. We are coming off a big win at Key West Race Week and feel good about the boat"
"We have three straight years of second place finishes...close but not quite. Last year was excruciating...we finished the week tied with Sotto Voce but lost on the tiebreak. We have won a Swan Caribbean Cup and were second in the Big Boat Series overall, but it would sure be great to break through this year".
"No matter the result, we'll have a good time. The Caribbean events afford great racing in great settings, great competition, and great fun ashore. We are a Corinthian boat with no paid pros, yet terrific people all turn out for a ride when we come to the Caribbean. Jack SLATTERY is our tactician...a Caribbean veteran. In addition we will have GBR AC guys, a J24 world and Pan Am Games champ, N.A.12 metre champs, well known New England sailors, and some very accomplished women's keelboat sailors".
"And then we have a guy from Pittsburgh who drives,"
he concluded referring to himself.
Chippewa won the class at Key West Race Week in which Titan was sixth. "Hopefully we will all have a more competitive and fair rating under CSA (Caribbean Sailing Association) when we race in the Caribbean against many of the same boats we raced in Key West Race Week. The task of trying to assign fair PHRF numbers to our class at Key West is nearly impossible, when you have custom boats, a combination of light and heavy displacement, and a rating spread of over a minute per mile,"
said Holmberg referring to Titan's performance.
AERA, in her new incarnation as a Ker 55, will also be making her fourth appearance at Antigua Sailing Week with Jez FANSTONE, skipper of Team News Corp in the last Volvo Ocean Race, at the helm. Second to Chippewa at Key West by five points, she will be competing at the BVI Spring Regatta before heading to Antigua and looking to turn the tables. She was delivered to her European owner last May and represented Spain in last summer's Admiral's Cup, scoring seven firsts, a second and a fifth.
Rosebud, a Reichel/Pugh designed Transpac 52, is making her Caribbean debut this year and will be rounding out her Caribbean season at Sailing Week. Owned by Roger STURGEON, she is crewed by mostly pro sailors. "Many from the America's Cup and also the Volvo around the world,"
according to Rosebud Racing's Gary EVANS. Launched in June of 2002 she topped San Francisco's St. Francis Big Boat Series in September of 2003 and more recently, took a fourth in class at Key West.
Oyster 62, Oystercatcher XXIV, which won her class in 2003 is returning after skipping last year's event while owner Richard MATTHEWS raced his Corby 50 Flirt instead.
Crescendo, a Swan 44 that won her class at last year's Swan American Regatta, has entered. She beat many names familiar to Antigua's waters including Godspeed, Celerity and Sky. She was fifth to Lolita's third place overall at that regatta. With Andrew FISHER'S Swan 45 Bandit also entered, last year's overall winner Lolita, is going to have strong competition from this year's flock of gathering Swans.
ASW04 will be the scene for the final of the fifth Caribbean Big Boat Series (CBBS) a three leg series for yachts over 60 feet. Twelve boats - six in racing and six in racer/cruiser will be battling it out for ultimate bragging rights. Leading the charge in the racing division will be the MaxZ86s Pyewacket and Morning Glory. Titan will be thrown into the mix together with the Caribbean racing stalwart Bill Alcott and his Equation team. Volvo Ocean 60s Spirit and Venom will also be mixing it up in their last Caribbean regatta before their transatlantic dash back to the UK.
Inspired by their transatlantic competition from Gran Canaria to St Lucia in the ARC at the end of 2003, in which Hamish OLIPHANT set a new course record with Spirit, the two owners of Spirit and Venom are to sail a dual from Falmouth, Antigua, to Falmouth, England, starting on Saturday 9 May 2004.
In the CBBS's racer/cruiser division, three of Formula 1 Sailing's Farr 65s will be battling each other after a season of Caribbean racing together with Chippewa, Starr Trail, a Farr 72, and Serengeti, a Tripp 60.
These big boats could well find themselves dwarfed by the likes of the 139-foot Mari Cha IV and the 115-foot Sojana, both of which are expected on the startline.
ASW04 opens it doors with on-site registration on 12 April. Thursday, 23 April is the Guadeloupe to Antigua Race followed by the Cavalier Rum Beach Party at Pigeon Beach, Falmouth Harbour. On 24 April, the winners of the Schools Art Competition will be on display at Admiral's Inn. 25 April at 1700hrs is the skippers' briefing and then the real fun begins.
Sunday, 25 April is the Dickenson Bay Race followed by the Great Dickenson Bay Beach Bash. Monday, Division A yachts will race Olympic courses off Dickenson Bay and Division B will race to Jolly Harbour which is also the site of the Captain's Cocktail Party. Tuesday is the Falmouth Harbour Race, which is followed by Lay-Day fun on Wednesday at Antigua Yacht Club. Thursday, the yachts are back on the ocean with Division A racing windward/leeward courses and Division B sailing the South Coast Race. Friday marks 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.
Further details are available on the event website at the address below.