With four days down and one to go the 200-odd boats in the 2003 Antigua Sailing Week (ASW) battled another day of perfect sailing conditions off the south coast of Antigua yesterday.
While division A had two short-ish variants of windward/leeward courses between English Harbour and Curtain Bluff, division B was sent out into the Atlantic on what was a hard beat upwind and a long and rolly downwind sail to the finish.
Definitely a short straw job for one crewmember on the 90 or so bareboats was that of 'human whisker pole' - bareboats don't carry poles and they are not allowed to be added. They clung on to the boat with one hand and the uncooperative jib with the other while the Atlantic rollers tossed them from one tack to the other.
Yesterday saw the baying hounds enjoying the Lay Day festivities at Antigua Yacht Club Marina with the crew of Andrews 70 Equation emerging as top dogs after acing at least two events including the tug-of-war. Accompanied by a variety of musical treats ranging from Shaggy to Village People, Lay Day culminated in the perennial wet t-shirt contest.
Frank Savage's Swan 56 Lolita is not only leading racing II with a comfortable lead of 11 points but also racing fleet by 13 points. Sotto Voce and Chippewa are tied for second place in fleet. Although a bad race, or even a DNS or DNF, tomorrow could destroy Lolita's fleet prize chance, Savage and crew have sewn up the 6-boat racing II class. Tomorrow's battle will be between another Swan 56 Vellamo 2 and Flirt, Richard Matthews' Corby 50 for second place.
Despite having come in to the regatta as favourite, Sotto Voce has now found itself second to Chippewa in the big boat class at the end of today by two points. Clay Deutsch's Swan 68 Chippewa, now in her third season of sailing, has been getting progressively better through this year's Caribbean race season. Although she won the Swan Cup a couple of years ago she has not, so far, won, class at ASW. Jack Slattery from North Sails Marblehead, USA is calling the shots and Preston Kelly is navigator.
Since Chippewa started campaigning in 2001 the crew has grown younger and constant modifications have been made to the boat. "The maneuvers are better, things are happening faster and we have lot of meetings before and after the race where we try to figure out what's causing the problems and sort them out," said Slattery. "We even try to plan out a emergency before it's going to happen."
"We are doing better here [than in St Maarten"s Heineken Regatta and the BVI Spring Regatta], but I think Sotto Voce's not doing as well here as she did in the last two regattas. She¹s had a few more problems. Our game plan is to go along as best we can and not make mistakes. We have seen the other boats make more mistakes than they have before and that¹s really helped." In the first race today Sotto Voce had a spinnaker snafu with a line under the boat that according to one crewmember cost them the race while Swan 80 Favonius saw its spinnaker sock caught around the top batten on one of its hoists.
The second race of today was a storming one for racing III. Caccia Alla Volpe, Near Miss, Irish Intuition and Lost Horizon II were two, three, four and five in fleet and one two, three and four in class. Although Caccia Alla Volpe has a nice margin of 10 points, a bad race tomorrow could blow their in chances in the 15-boat fleet.
Credit Moderne racked up another two wins in racing sport today and leads local Antiguan boat Huey by two points.
The big racer/cruisers in racer/cruiser I were a little feisty this morning. Fast.net, Liara and Spirit of Diana were squeezed out at the committee boat end and then a general recall was made. Bermudian Farr 72 Starr Trail leads the class after a fourth and a first today while Helsal 2 is second. Tazani with Eddie Warden-Owen driving has built up a good lead in racer/cruiser II with J/46 second and Swan 48 Celerity third - all UK boats.
Grain De Soleil leads Tarok VI in racer/cruiser III by 10 points. 1st Away is lying third with 18 points.
On the division B course igoodia and Hansa will be battling it out for top honours tomorrow; Hansa is only one point adrift of the prize.
Hugh Bailey¹s HuGo looks set to win the battle of the marinas as well as performance cruising II. He leads Bobby Velasquez's L¹Esperance by 12 points. Pavlova II and Scaramouche are tied for third in class with 21 points.
The Brill Nautical Society onboard Frers 76 Kalikobass bulleted cruising I by the slimmest of margins against Excalibur, a CNB 70. Arawa topped cruising II again.
Fabi won bareboat I by a sliver at 3/10th of a second while Rosco took bareboat I again. Jan Soderberg continues to dominate bareboat III on Lofoten I while the British crew led by Richard Harris-Jones and the Swedish crew onboard Taz lead bareboat IV and V respectively. Palourde and Blue Bayou are tying for second place in bareboat IV. Bareboats IV and V could still go to other boats while the other classes - particularly Soderberg¹s where he has a 23 point lead - look more secure.
The last day of racing action for division A will take place under the imposing cliffs of Shirley Heights and out to 'Africa' while division B will be racing between English Harbour and 'Curtains' off Cades Reef. Saturday will see the inaugural Bareboat Championship for the top three boats in each bareboat class.