As Antigua Sailing Week (ASW) gets closer, old rivals and drinking buddies from the America's Cup and Volvo Ocean Race continue to appear on the crew lists.
Robert MILLER'S Mari Cha IV, the fastest monohull in world, arrived on March 11th after a trans-Atlantic crossing from Cherbourg, France.
Miller will be at the helm of Mari Cha IV in Antigua together with Mike Sanderson, racing skipper on the 140-foot schooner. Mari Cha IV took the world of sailing by storm in October last year when, on its maiden ocean voyage, it crossed the Atlantic in only six days. Mike was mainsheet trimmer on Larry ELLISON'S Oracle BMW Racing America's Cup challenge in 2003. Jef D'ETIVEAUD, project manager, co-skipper will also be racing together with Mike QUILTER, Team New Zealand's weather boat observer and navigator on Club Med in The Race 2001.
Mari Cha IV will be packed to the gunwales with America's Cup and Volvo Ocean Race/Whitbread sailing talent most of whom were onboard for the record-breaking trans-Atlantic crossing. The bulk of the crew are Oracle BMW Racing and Team New Zealand veterans, with One World and AmericaOne teams also represented together with Volvo Ocean Race syndicates illbruck Pinta and Team Tyco.
Peter HARRISON, the supremo behind the GBR Challenge for the America's Cup, has now entered his 115 foot Farr-designed Sojana and a few faces from his challenge team can probably be expected to appear onboard.
Swan 70 Fast.net returns this year with a new name, new owner and some key players. Flying Dragon's new owner Erck RICKMERS will be sharing the helm with Bertrand PACE from Team New Zealand's 2003 America's Cup challenge. New Zealander Rod DAVIS, tactician for Prada's 2003 challenge, will be calling the shots. They'll be joined by "a few other guys from the last Cup" and looking to knock last year's class winner, Starr Trail, from her perch.
The start lines for the Big Boat Racing and Racer Cruiser I are shaping up to be a hum dinger of a spectacle with double the number of racing big boats than last year. So far the following will be jockeying for position:
Big Boat Racing
Mari Cha V - Custom 140
Sojana - Farr 115
Pyewacket - maxZ86
Morning Glory - maxZ86
Titan 12 - Reichel/Pugh 75
Equation - Santa Cruz 70
Chippewa - Swan 68
Spirit - VOR 60
Venom - VOR 60
Aspiration - Swan 86
Extra Dry - Javelin 75
Starr Trail - Farr 72
Flying Dragon - Swan 70
Atalanta II - Farr 70
Liara - Dixon 65
Spirit of Isis - Farr 65
Spirit of Mertice - Farr 65
Spirit of Minerva - Farr 65
Serengeti - Tripp 60
"We're looking forward to welcoming back old friends and some new ones for the first time. We're getting good entries across the fleet and I can't believe the calibre of the boats and the crews on them. 2004's Antigua Sailing Week is coming together well. Frank [Savage, Lolita's owner] has a challenge on his hands to keep the Lord Nelson Trophy,"
said Jan SANTOS vice chairman of Antigua Sailing Week committee.
ASW04 opens it doors with on-site registration on April 12th. Thursday, April 23rd is the Guadeloupe to Antigua Race followed by the Cavalier Rum Beach Party at Pigeon Beach, Falmouth Harbour. On April 24th, the winners of the Schools Art Competition will be on display at Admiral's Inn. April 25th at 1700h is the skippers' briefing and then the real fun begins.
Sunday, April 25th 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.