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Monday 20th April 2015

Race Report by Louay Habib
Antigua, West Indies. Friday, April 17, 2015

Glorious conditions greeted hundreds of avid sailors taking part on the first day of the Antigua Classics Yacht Regatta, sponsored by Panerai. The fleet of 46 classics was an incredible sight, assembled outside Antigua's Falmouth Harbour to race “The Old Road” course. The battle in the Spirit of Tradition Class was incredible. After two-and-a-half hours of racing, under two minutes separated three magnificent yachts.

The winner was the J Class Rainbow JH2, re-designed by Dykstra Naval Architects, according to the 1937 Starling Burgess design. German Frers, 140ft ketch Rebecca, took line honours, but after time correction, was placed second by just 32 seconds. The 74' Joel White designed ketch, Dragonera was third in the Spirit of Tradition Class.

“We now know we are in a battle.” commented Rebecca's Stan Pearson. “Rebecca was just flying along today, but we left a few minutes out there on the race course. We know we are capable of beating Dragonera and Rainbow but this looks like it is going to be a great Regatta.”

The squally weather of the preceding day had given way to solid trade winds, with perfect 15-20 knots of breeze pumping from the east, kicking up the characteristic Antiguan swell. “The Old Road Course” started with a four-mile reach south, then a downwind leg to Old Road Bluff was followed by a beat back to the starting area. With a reach south and a reciprocal reach to the finish, the fleet enjoyed a race of approximately 20 miles.

Vintage Class
15 entries are racing in the Vintage Class, for yachts in original condition, designed and launched before World War II. In Vintage Class B, the winner was the 1925 Herreshoff, Mary Rose. Whilst in Vintage Class C the smallest yacht at the regatta was the winner, Leo Goolden's 1942 25' Folkboat, Lorema.

In Vintage Class A, Trevor Fetter's 1938 Sparkman & Stephens designed Black Watch was the victor, taking line honours and the class win on corrected time. Robert Fabre's 1944 German Frers Vagabundo II was second, by just four minutes on corrected time. Griffith Williams' 1936 H. Rasmussen designed Seefalke II placed third after taking part in her first race after an extensive restoration at Antigua Boatbuilding.

Mat Barker's 1929 Alfred Mylne sloop, The Blue Peter and the 1927 Baglietto designed ketch, Sincerity, skippered by Trygve Bratz, had a tremendous battle on the water.

“The Blue Peter is almost unchanged since being launched in 1929, we keep her as original as possible. We could make her much faster but that's not the point. I am highly competitive, but racing a classic is about appreciating the love of traditional boats with people that have the same appreciation. Most of the crew aboard this week have been coming back for many years, even if I tell them off a bit, we have a lot of fun together. I don't know the skipper of Sincerity but we had a great battle today and although we beat them on time correction, they won the race to the finish line and I congratulated them for that.”

Classics Class
14 yachts are racing in the Classics Class, for yachts designed and launched after World War II. In Classics Class A, Ralph Isham's Bruce King designed, Whitehawk, took line honours and won on corrected time, by a handsome margin. In Classics Class B, line honours went to the Klaus Röder designed 109' schooner Kairos, but after time correction the 112' Marconi Schooner Argo, sailed by the Sea-Mester Adventure College, won the class by just over two minutes.

The 1909 Herreshoff schooner Elena took line honours in Classics Class B. However, Robert Soros' 65' schooner Juno, designed by Nat Benjamin, was the winner after time correction. Bonnie Schmidt & Nigel Bower's John Alden designed 65' schooner Heron was second in class. Heron was built by the Bower family in Camden, Maine.

“We have sailed her over 70,000 miles and our daughters were home schooled on board.” proudly declared Nigel Bower. “Heron is a commercial boat, we take charter guests from Maine right through the Caribbean islands and thousand of sailors have enjoyed sailing her over the last ten years. We have only missed one Antigua Classics Regatta since she was launched. We don't normally race Heron but Classics is just a fantastic event, it is such an amazing gathering of yachts and people. I love chatting to other boat builders, there is a tremendous pool of talent and knowledge and these are the people that are at the forefront of traditional boat design and craftsmanship.”

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