Mother Nature delivered fantastic conditions for the first day of the 51st edition of Antigua Sailing Week. English Harbour Rum Race Day was spicy, packing a real punch. With 20 knots of breeze and a building sea state the 116 teams that took to the combat zone reveled in fast conditions drenched in sparkling sunshine.
Stefan Jentzsch's German Carkeek 47 Black Pearl corrected out to win CSA Racing 1 with the modified American Volvo 70 Warrior sailed by Stephen Murray Jr taking second place, and the Cookson 50 Riff Raff, skippered by Brian McMaster from Australia in third.
"It was pretty shifty today, quite gusty and we kept it simple and tried not to do anything special," commented Black Pearl's tactician, Gareth Blanckenberg. "The crew work was all good and we had a solid mistake-free race and everything came together. My style is that I am not too much of a risk taker and this crew is very good at what they do so you can have the expectation that everything is going to work. Tomorrow things will be different as we will be on another course which will bring new challenges."
In CSA 2, Peter Harrison's Superyacht Sojana sailed well to give its owner the perfect birthday present; a win in the first race of the regatta. Peter is much loved in Antigua for his support of the yachting industry, as well as funding the restoration of some of Antigua's key historic buildings such as Clarence House through the Peter Harrison Foundation. Peter is also a generous supporter of Antigua's National Sailing Academy. Lithuanian Volvo 60 Ambersail was second in CSA 2 and Stuart Robinson's Swan 82 Stay Calm was third.
English Harbour Rum Race Day was a great occasion for Antiguan entries with five teams winning their respective CSA classes. The surf was up for Bernie Evan-Wong's RP37 TAZ scoring an impressive win in CSA 3 and Jonty Layfield's powerful Swan 48 Sleeper X glided through the rush-hour in CSA 5. Carlo Falcone's unique and legendary Caccia Alla Volpe took a big win in CSA 6, and Jules Mitchell's young team racing NSA Spirit, scored an impressive win for Antigua's National Sailing Academy in CSA 7.
"We had a reasonably good start in clean air," said Sleeper X's owner Jonty Layfield after racing. "We were sailing for clean lanes all the time and that worked well. As we have a symmetrical kite we could sail low on the fleet which made up a lot of time. We are very happy because it is a completely new team even though I have known some of them for 30 years, so that was a good feeling."
Congratulations to all the winning teams today, including: Robbie Ferron, racing the modified 6 Meter Biwi Magic; Alexander Pfeiffer on Jeanneau SO 509 KH+P La Bella Vita; Roland Graf's Dufour 460 Culebra; Nicole Lameter's all-female crew on Dufour 412 KH+P Nardis, 2 2 Tango, Anthony McVeigh's GF51 and competing in the new Club Class, Jonathan Constantine's Feeling 39, Imagine of Falmouth.
English Harbour Rum Race Day was rounded off by Antigua Sailing Week's signature daily Prize Giving at Antigua Yacht Club, with DJ Kenny D, DJ Jag spinning the tunes and the Kutting Edge Band rocking the crowd into the night.
Antigua Sailing Week continues tomorrow (Monday) with the Fever-Tree Race Day where sailors from over 37 nations will compete on the second day of this truly international contest.