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ANTIGUA SAILING WEEK – ALIVE AND KICKING!
Monday 30th May 2011

Sailors come to Antigua for thrilling, adrenalin-pumping sailing and the competitors at the 44th Antigua Sailing Week certainly got what they came for. Virtually every day big breeze and lumpy seas spiced up the action with 20 knots or more of wind being the norm throughout most of the week.  It was a wet, wild ride upwind but with a sea temperature of 25ºC, it was a labour of love.  Big wind and big waves provided Antigua Sailing Week with some outstanding racing in glorious sunshine with those who could stay in control downwind coming out on top.

Whilst Antigua served up some classic racing conditions, there were quite a few changes to the Caribbean’s oldest and most well-known regatta. Antigua Sailing Week has undergone a change of guard this year with a new Regatta Organising Committee.
 
“The new team brings a committed, experienced group of sailors together to resolve the critical planning and strategy issues required for a successful event,” commented new Regatta Chairman, Ian Fraser.  “Robust and constructive debate surrounding boat classification, ratings, courses and other essential details has brought an exciting and invigorating atmosphere.”
 
Many of the sailors who have been loyal to Antigua Sailing Week in recent years had an exceptional event.  Peter Harrison’s Farr 115, Sojana had a tremendous week scoring six bullets to seal the award for Best Boat in the Regatta.  “I have been coming to Antigua since 1995, it is like a second home to me”, explained Peter Harrison. “But I can never remember a better week - the crew has performed extremely well, a lot of them are old friends and that is so important.”

Richard Matthews, owner of Oystercatcher XXVIII, has also been a loyal participant in past Antigua Sailing Weeks and he was back this year with his latest Oystercatcher, a brand new Humphries 54.  After Race Day Two, Richard Matthews comment, “It was just champagne sailing today and a special one for me as it was the first race win in my new boat. Everything really came together today and I am delighted for all of the crew who performed so well.” 

Local boats also did exceptionally well with Vincent White’s O’Day 35, Seal, scoring a perfect six bullets.  “We are just a bunch of locals having fun.  I think that the crew of Seal is living proof that anybody can come to Antigua Sailing Week, have a great laugh and also win.”  Rick Gormley’s First 38, Elethea, also did exceptionally well with its first class win at Antigua Sailing Week to Rick’s delight!  Other local boats battled it out on the water with very respectable showings over a wide range of classes.

Away from the race course, the Event Village in Nelson’s Dockyard provided a comfortable atmosphere ashore where sailors and friends gathered daily to chat about the day’s event and enjoy some food, drink and entertainment.  The Chivas Lounge also created a sophisticated chill-out environment where the sailors gathered for the Captains’ Cocktail party and to relax and exchange a few stories.

The party highlight of the week was on Tuesday night prior to Lay Day when Shirley Heights was jam-packed with over 2,000 people for an unforgettable concert by reggae legend, Maxi Priest.  For 25 years Shirley Heights Lookout has been the spot for some very special occasions and the Maxi Priest concert must surely rank amongst them.

After a week of superb racing the Antigua Sailing Week prize giving was held on Friday night in the Event Village.  The buzz throughout the evening was about the positive changes that had been made on the water this year which, along with collecting a few trophies, put the sailors in a very good mood indeed!  “We made a lot of changes on the water this year and the feedback we have received to date is overwhelmingly positive.  There is still work to be done to continue to improve the event but we are encouraged by the enthusiastic response we have had from the majority of the sailors,” commented Kathy Lammers, Chairman of the Regatta Organising Committee.

The oldest and most prestigious regatta in the Caribbean is very much alive and kicking!

View the exciting Antigua Sailing Week wrap-up video here: 

By Louay Habib.  Photo by Tim Wright - www.photoaction.com.

For more information visit the official Antigua Sailing Week web site: www.sailingweek.com.


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