Back to Antigua Classic Yacht Regatta

Sunday 2nd June 2013

by Louay Habib, as published in Caribbean Compass June 2013.

There is nothing else quite like the Antigua Classic Yacht Regatta and with the windiest conditions in living memory the vista on this year’s racecourse was nothing short of gobsmacking.

The Saturday saw the most bodacious conditions, with 30 knots of wind and ninefoot seas out at the offshore racing buoy. Racing priceless sailing vessels in these conditions was not for the faint-hearted; even the larger yachts had green water sluicing down the decks and cockpits filled to the brim was a regular occasion on smaller yachts. Five yachts sustained damage to their rigs. Having successfully competed in recent regional events including the Panerai Transat Classique, the BVI Sailing Festival and the inaugural Inn Challenge, the 1930 Alfred Mylne sloop The Blue Peter came the worst off, suffering a dismasting. Fortunately there were no reports of anybody getting injured, save a lot of bumps and bruises. Saturday’s conditions were huge but, bar the last day, competitors experienced over 20 knots of wind most days and a building sea state.

Sixty-five yachts entered this 26th edition of the event, April 19th to 23rd, competing in four races of 20 to 24 miles each, using Classic Simplified CSA ratings.

In Vintage Class A, Robert Towbin’s impressive 94-foot Fife ketch, Sumurun, was the standout yacht of the regatta, winning every race. Sumurun, built in 1914 and named after an exotic harem girl, goes like a witch on a reach and reveled in the feisty conditions. Carlo Falcone’s 1938, 79-foot Alfred Mylne-designed Mariella was second but couldn’t really challenge Sumurun’s waterline length. However, prior to breaking her mizzen, Ed Kane and Marty Wallace’s 1949, 73-foot S&S yawl, Bolero, was a challenger to Sumurun’s superiority.

Vintage Class B was one of the most competitive of any division. With the top four yachts all capable of taking the class going into the last race, the 103-foot gaff-rigged ketch Thendara, built in 1936 and weighing in at 135 tons, took the last race and the title, with the 1924-vintage, 83-foot William Fife III-designed Adventuress second.  Third was the 1928 Alden schooner Charm III, skippered by Richard West. Charm III had a fantastic battle with the magnificent 1925 Herreshoff schooner Mary Rose; in fact, it required a countback to separate the two beautiful yachts.

Dr. Hans Albrecht’s fine-looking 52-foot William Fife, Dione, was sailed all the way from Buenos Aires to take part and the German-owned yacht, built as a gaff yawl in 1912, took straight bullets in Vintage Class C. Christoph von Reibnitz’s 1936-built, Henry Gruber 59-foot yawl, Peter Von Seestermühe, and the stunning ’30s-era, French-owned 50-foot Herreshoff ketch, Bounty, had a tremendous battle for second place, which was settled in the last race in favour of Peter Von Seestermühe.

In Vintage Class D, Geoffrey Davis’ 27-foot Herreshoff, Aquila, built in 1919, had a bad start to the regatta but came back in style winning the last two races to take the class title by just two points from sistership Squaw, skippered by Angus Davis.

Both yachts had been shipped down from Bristol, Rhode Island, especially to take part in the regatta. As two of the smallest yachts racing at the regatta, they were extremely well sailed, especially in such a big sea state. Roy Boughton’s 1936 British-built Gauntlet Class cutter, Guiding Light, was third.

Seljm was the standout yacht in Classic Class A — the 1980 Anselmi Boretti
111-footer was unstoppable, winning every race. John Steele’s 70-foot schooner, PaPa 1, built at his own Covey Island Boatworks in Nova Scotia, was second in every race. The Klaus Röder 109-foot schooner, Kairós, built in 2007, was third.

In Classic Class B, New Yorker Robert Soros’ Nat Benjamin 65, Juno, was the winner with straight bullets. Launched in 2000, the schooner was built for ocean passages and reveled in the tough conditions. Juno is one of the largest wooden yachts to be built in Martha’s Vineyard for many years and she is capable of clocking up 200 miles a day at sea. Philip Walwyn’s 60-footer, Kate, designed by Alfred Mylne in 1908 and built by Walwyn and his team of woodworkers in St. Kitts and launched in December 2006, was second. Third was Kieran Latham’s 52-foot schooner, Lilly Bolero, with a hull design based on the traditional Bristol Channel Pilot Cutter.

Classic Class C was won by the legendary Stormvogel. Built in 1961, she was one of the first cold-molded yachts to be built and she went on to win a host of offshore classics including the Fastnet, Sydney-Hobart, Capetown to Rio, and Newport- Bermuda Races. The Van de Stadt-designed Stormvogel powered up in the heavy conditions and, although Ira Epstein’s 1957, Robert Clark-designed 65-foot ketch, Lone Fox, challenged Stormvogel, the 74-foot racer won all but one of the races. Leonard Beckwith’s 1963, 53-foot Holman-designed yawl, Saudade, was third.

In Classic Class D, David Buller’s Hartley 40, Old Bob, lit up in the big conditions; the concrete-built boat is one of the most peculiar regulars at Antigua Classics. Going into the last race, Old Bob needed to take at least third to win the class but came fourth in the dying breeze. Andy Hazell’s 32-foot Lyle Hess-designed Alice of Penrhyn won the last race to pip Old Bob by a single point. Michael Higgins of Lunenburg, Nova Scotia, built the 38-foot Samara T himself and sailed her well to claim third.

Eight Carriacou Sloops were split into two classes. In Traditional Class A, Alwyn Enoe, who was also racing in the class, built all three top yachts: Alexis Andrews’ Genesis, built in 2003, was the winner, taking all four races; Eli Fuller’s Zemi was second; and there was a tie for third between Enoe’s Exodus and Todd Orrell’s Ocean Nomad, which Exodus won on countback.

Charles Morgan and Sam Duce, racing the Zepherin McLaren-built Sweetheart,
won Traditional Class B, with Andrew Robinson’s Baldwin De Roche-built Summer
Cloud taking second place. Danny Donelan and his crew sailed another De Roche
build, Savvy, up from Grenada to take third, although the team did win many admirers for their superhero costumes during the Parade of Sail!

“Plastic classics” — fiberglass boats with long keels with keel-hung rudders that are descendants of wooden hull designs — race, too. Paul Deeth, racing Petrana, designed by John Alden in 1968, won Classic GRP Class A by winning all but the last race. The 50-foot aft-cockpit ketch was impeccably sailed all week by a team mainly from Antigua. Don Ward’s Luders 44, Frolic, was second and the 1958, 41-foot Philip Rhodes sloop Sunshine was third.

Martin Halpern’s Francis Kinney-designed 36-footer, Ruffian, was the winner in
Classic GRP Class B. Built in Maine in 1961, Ruffian fought off a strong challenge from two Antiguan yachts: the 32-foot 1961 Bruce King sloop Iris J and the 24-foot 1968 David Boyd sloop Springtide.

In Spirit of Tradition Racing there was a tie for first place between Donald Tofias’ Joel White-designed Wild Horses and Jochen Hertzke’s Spirit 60, Spirit of Rani, with both yachts scoring the same number of points. The W-76 Wild Horses was declared the winner by the smallest margin at the regatta — she won the last race to take the class title by just 12 seconds!

Overall victory in the Antigua Classic Yacht Regatta went to Sumurun. Robert
Tobin and his crew received the prize of a watch from event sponsors Panerai. Among the myriad other prizes awarded at this spectacular showcase of great yacht designers, builders and sailors was a special lifetime achievement award given to Carriacou boatbuilder Alwyn Enoe — respect from one kind of Caribbean classic to another.

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