The 16 Antigua Classic Yacht Regatta lived up to the reputation of this amazing annual sailing event. As always there was a wonderful mix of classic yachts, with John Alden designs featuring strongly.
The star of the regatta was undoubtedly Eleonora. This new 135ft schooner was built to the lines of the famous Herreshoff schooners and was inspired by the schooner Westward. With wide sweeping decks, traditional gaff rig and beautiful craftsmanship throughout she is one of the most unique modern classics and not surprisingly won several trophies including the overall winner of the Concours d'Elegance and Most Photogenic Yacht.
Among the other luxurious superyachts (100ft plus) in the Spirit of Tradition class, it was good to see again Sapphire the 100ft Andre Hoek sloop, the schooner Windrose and the gracious Victoria of Strathearn. Velsheda was the only J class yacht in the regatta this year although it is hoped that next year all four (including the new Ranger) could be here. The Spirit of Tradition Class B had five entrants including two new Bruce King sloops Patriot and Misconduct racing against Braveheart of Sark, a regular entry looked as stunning as ever.
There was an exceptional turn-out in the Classic B class, including the very pretty Lone Fox the 1957, 65ft ketch designed by Robert Clark and Zwerver the 1956 Marconi Cutter. Lucia, a 1940 John Alden yawl previously known as Id, was back in the Caribbean after a seven year absence, and won several trophies. The smallest yacht in the regatta was Crystal which collected several trophies including the Best Performance of a Gaff rigged yacht. The hull of this 28ft cutter was built by Francis Herreshoff, but the yacht was only recently finished by her current owner Oliver Greensmith. Oliver had previously helped his father build the 37ft yawl Usquaebach, which also participated in the regatta. There were two entries again in the Tall Ship class. Star Clipper was joined this year by the three year old sail training ship Stavros S. Niarchos.
The classic single-handed race sponsored by Carib Bean Coffee Roasters took place on Friday. This growing event within the Classic Yacht Regatta, now only in its 4th year always receives a wonderful response from classic yachtsmen and a record 18 yachts turned out in fairly windy conditions. In the big boat class for yachts of up to 75ft there were an amazing six entrants; the 70ft Vittfarne raced by Luke Danby was the winner. In the small boat class, the winner for a second time was Diva the 30 sq. metre yacht built in 1930 and raced by Dr. Robin Tattersall.
The standard of sailing was excellent with exceptional conduct by everyone on the racecourse. The courses were the usual configurations with a new Comfort Zone optional short course introduced this year for the slower yachts. The first day of racing took place in fairly strong winds and produced some thrilling sailing. Day two, was ideal, although by day three the wind was dying and some 13 yachts elected to complete the shortened course. The Spirit of Tradition yachts, which normally do an extended course on the last day, also all opted to complete just the regular course.
In the Concours d'Elegance sponsored by Boat International Magazine, the prizes awarded were: Traditional Division: Irene, the 120ft trading vessel built in 1907 by J Carver & sons and looking impressive in her new colour scheme; Spirit of Tradition: Eleonora; Vintage: Marilee; Classic Class: Zwerver with Golondrina the 1958 Concordia Yawl deserving special mention.
On the social side of the regatta, the Welcome Party at the yacht club was warm and friendly. The Owners' Party held again at the Inn at English Harbour and was another delightful evening coinciding with a Crew Party hosted at Jimmy's Restaurant. Then on the Saturday evening, the sing-a-long at the Antigua Yacht Club was great fun with music and participation from the crowd. On Tuesday the Gig Racing in front of the Admiral's Inn was great fun as ever for kids of all ages and with the tea on the lawn this was a relaxed, informal and delightful way of spending the final afternoon before the later prize giving.
(Report received as updated from Tuesday 22 April)