215 Boats Head To The Northern End Of Antigua. Today's kick off race saw the spinnaker boats (Division A) and the non-spinnaker boats (Division B) head off in different directions but the final destination was the same - Dickenson Bay.
Although the winds didn't reach those 28-knot gusts forecast the night before, local legend, Jol Byerley's, forecast was spot on first thing in the morning with lighter winds from the East-North-East. However, the bumpy conditions on the start line off English Harbour were a sign of things to come for the spinnaker boats and this sent the spectator boats scurrying off up the west coast to meet the fleet as it headed down towards Rex Halcyon Cove and Dickenson Bay for the finish.
The 'East coasters' described conditions as "bumpy" with winds in the 15-20 knot range while the "West coasters' didn't find as many holes in the wind as previous years as they sailed up in the lee of the island.
With, luckily, no collisions, the day was not without its share of incidents. Martinique boat Credit Moderne lost its mast soon after the start while Antrim 27 Rhumb Squall never crossed the line with rudder trouble. With the no-show of Melges 24 Island Water World, the Sport Boat class ceased to exist for day one of Sailing Week. A plaintiff and disturbed call for help was heard on the race channel as Citrine, a Jeanneau 37, informed those listening that the prop shaft had fallen out the back of the boat and she was sinking. Local salvage vessel, Sea Pony soon had her safely under tow.
Considering the first day exuberance there were few protests too - five to be exact. Three were dismissed. Vague L'Ame was disqualified for starting its engine to avoid the committee boat as it lay in irons - and a fruitless breach of the rules as it turned out after it dinged the committee boat anyway. In Racing III Casino Bateliere Plazza received a 40 per cent penalty for a port/starboard incident with class winner Lost Horizon II. Puerto Rican Mumm 30 was second, closely followed by the other Mumm 30 Twisted Lizard from the USA. Guadelopean Hobie 33 retired after assisting the mastless Credit Moderne.
In the big boat class, Pyewacket set the tone for the rest of the regatta by making mincemeat of the course and the competition even overtaking S&S 72 Encore which had started 30 minutes before her. "It's embarrassing to go that fast," said one crew member by the results board. Robert Condon's Swan 70 Serano Of London was second and another British Swan, Spirit Of Jethou, was third. Great Lakes Santa Cruz 70 Equation did not finish while Open 60 Ocean Planet brought up the rear with a sixth place.
Noonmark VI beat last year's class winner, Lolita by a hair in Racing II while Turner 46 Brigadoon VII was third. The girls sailing Reflex 38 Girlsforsail.com2 came in a valiant tenth out of the twelve starters. Where do you go as graduates of last year's bareboat fleet? Into one of the hottest classes at the regatta. "We're small fry but we came together. We didn't come in last and we didn't make too many mistakes. It will be interesting to see what happens tomorrow on the Olympic courses."
Farr 72 Starr Trail took Racer/Cruiser I relegating last year's winner Encore to second place with Swan 62 Orfeo third. Timbalero 2 from Puerto Rico started as it means to go on with a first in Racer/Cruiser II. British Swan 48 Celerity, in its first race ever, was second and Scottish Jus Do It 2 was third.
It was one for the home team in Racer/Cruiser III with Flechette pipping fellow Antiguan boat Trouble to the post. BVI boats Hullabuloo and Pipe Dream were third and fourth respectively. Pipe Dream unused to such positions will be working hard to knock Hullabuloo out of the way. Diva hoping for a good day was ninth in wind speeds of about 18 knots that did not enable them to keep planning to make up much needed downwind ground.
In the non-spinnaker division, Racer/Cruiser went to another Antiguan boat Hugh Bailey's HuGo. Cruising I and II went to the Brits with Richard Matthews' Oyster Catcher XXIV and Will Collins' Galatea of Southampton taking their respective classes.
In the 100-boat Bareboat divisions, four-times winner Jan Soderberg took Bareboat V and fleet honours for the day.
Tomorrow will see the spinnaker boats racing a windward/leeward and an Olympic course off Dickenson Bay while the non-spinnaker boats will be racing to Jolly Harbour Marina and the next overnight stop for the event.