2011 PANERAI CLASSIC YACHTS CHALLENGE - DAY 1Sunday 17th April 2011
Antigua awoke to sunny skies and white fluffy clouds this morning, much to the relief of competitors and photographers on this the third race day in the 24th Antigua Yacht Regatta, the first regatta of the 2011 Panerai Classic Yachts Challenge. There were a few bleary eyes this morning following the success of last night's Musical Night at the Antigua Yacht Club when crew members of the regatta came forward to show their musical talents - a virtuoso guitarist and lady blues singer to name just two of the many fabulous acts.
By the ten o'clock start of Race 3, a light 8 - 10 knot breeze set the first classes off to a good start. As the morning progressed a near perfect north north easterly varying from 9- 19 knots of wind developed, resulting in an exciting and closely challenging day of sailing as the 68 strong fleet of beautiful classic yachts vied for position around the reciprocal 'Cannon' course. "A photographer's dream ticket!" .and they certainly were not disappointed to witness a stunningly accurate performance by all four of the 'mighty' entries, Velsheda, Maria, Rebecca and Ranger crossing the line absolutely neck and neck at their 11.15 class start and the sun popped out just at the right time too!
This is the one race of the regatta when the smaller yacht crew could be lucky enough to experience the awe inspiring atmosphere emanating from the larger contestants as they skillfully weave their way through the entire fleet, often passing at 'spine-tinglingly' close quarters!
Today's course was laid kindly to ensure all participants enjoyed two easy reaches to the outer mark and consequently the same ease of homeward runs. A marked increase in wind speed around midday 'upped' the action so that all finished the race in good time to participate in the Parade of Classics in English Harbour.
This popular annual event gives competing yachts the opportunity to show off their finery to the delight of crowds of spectators lining the shore. Amidst much loud cheering and applauding each parading yacht is introduced by 'the voice of English Harbour', the legendary veteran schooner man, Jol Byerley who provides an entertaining, informative and descriptive commentary.
With broadside cannon-fire from Elena and Marie, a belly-dancing sail past by Lucy, and a piper (of the Scottish variety!) aboard Sincerity, a real carnival atmosphere prevailed.
Today's festivities concluded with the sumptuous Sail Maine Party, hosted by Portland Yacht Services at the Antigua Yacht Club. Wayfarer Marine, Brooklin Boat Yard, Rockport Marine and Stephens Waring White Yacht Design were co-sponsors of the feast, which included free drinks, Maine lobster bisque and seafood in addition to an assortment of hors d'oeuvres.
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