'Compared to this time last year, we have more competitors registered,' said Neil FORRESTER, regatta chairman and general manager of the Antigua Hotel and Tourist Association. 'Overall, there is a nice balance among Caribbean entries and those coming from the USA, Great Britain, Italy, Switzerland, Germany, Spain and France. Each year we welcome back veteran sailors and receive warmly those who have not sailed here before.'
In addition to the regatta's new title sponsor, Rolex, another innovation for this year is the Regatta Village, which will be situated in the historic Nelson's Dockyard in English Harbour. All of the week's activities such as trophy ceremonies and the famed Lord Nelson's Ball, which annually attracts over 750 people, will take place in one location.
From big Swans to mid sized charter boats, enjoying the camaraderie on the water and off is a goal of the week, and what draws racers to the Caribbean every year.
'It's the regatta we really gear up for,' said Clay DEUTCH (USA), owner of the Swan 68 Chippewa, and winner of the 2004 Swan Caribbean Challenge Cup. 'We have done it since 2001, except we missed last year. We're full on this year with our core group of crew. We like the length of the regatta, getting in a full week of racing. In terms of variety, you can't beat the schedule. It's the best regatta for us because it tends to draw the best big boat competition.'
Chippewa will compete in the Big Boat Racing class against newcomer Numbers, the Farr 60 owned by Dan MYERS (USA) that has won its class at the Acura Key West Race Week and New York Yacht Club Race Week at Newport presented by Rolex, and Frank SAVAGE's (USA) Swan 56 Lolita, 2005's Antigua Sailing Week overall regatta winner.
The two largest entries to date are two from Britain, Nephele the Frers 112 owned by William AINSCOUGH and Sojana, Peter HARRISON's Farr 115, which according to its website, 'Was the fastest yacht at last year's Antigua Megayacht Challenge, and crossed the Atlantic in a speedy 9 days and 10 hours (not racing). Sojana also competed in the ARC (Atlantic Rally for Cruisers) last winter, and was the fastest yacht to finish under sail out of 220 entries. In 2005 Sojana competed in the esteemed Rolex Transatlantic Challenge and was pronounced 'overall winner' of the Antigua Megayacht Challenge.'
Other notable entries in the Big Boat Racer/Cruiser Class are Starr Trail, Robert MULDERIG's Farr 72 from Bermuda and Manu, the Swan 70 owned by Holger BOEHRES from the Cayman Islands.
To date, 115 entries have been logged at the regatta office with over 200 total entrants expected.