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Monday 20th April 2015

Race Report by Louay Habib
Sunday, April 19, 2015

Antigua Classic Yacht Regatta, sponsored by Panerai, is a competitive regatta but the spirit of the event is just as important. Sunday's race, the Kenny Coombs Memorial Cannon Course, was the favourite race of the Father of Classics, Kenny Coombs. The reaching course was as much a celebration of traditional boats as a sailing competition. Once again the famous perfect sailing conditions delivered, with 15 knots of Trade Winds and a significant sea state. The tight reaching start had the fleet at full tilt, barreling out to sea, with the occasional sideswipe from the two metre waves, it was a refreshing start for the crews, as warm water cascaded down the decks.

After three days of racing, five yachts still remain unbeaten: Ralph Isham's Whitehawk continues to dominate Classics Class A, as does 112′ Marconi Schooner Argo in Classics Class C. Herreshoff Schooner, Mary Rose, scored their third bullet in Vintage Class B, but only just. Richard Oswald's Coral of Cowes was just 7 seconds behind after time correction. Leo Goolden's Lorema remains unbeaten in Vintage Class C. Robert Soros' Juno, continued their perfect score, holding off the mighty schooner Elena by just one minute after time correction. Paul Deeth's Petrana lost its winning streak today, by a very narrow margin. Stuart Armstrong's 1944 ketch, Desiderata, won today's race by just 14 seconds after time correction.

There was a carnival atmosphere as the Classics fleet left the Antigua Yacht Club Marina and afterwards for the Parade of Classics in English Harbour. Batman appeared on the bow of Andrew Robinson's Carriacou Sloop, Summer Cloud. The appearance of the caped crusader raised their game to take third in today's race, which was won by Philippe Fabre's Exodus. Batman (alias Brazilian drummer, for local band Sound Citizens) spoke dockside. “The people of Gotham City can sleep soundly tonight because we are looking out for them! While I have your attention, I would like to emphasis and important point about Classics. The world is full of too much plastic and these beautiful wooden boats will be re-cycled, nurtured and loved for hundreds of years that is the message Classics is putting out to the world.”

Leo Goolden's 25' Folkboat, Lorema remains unbeaten after three races, Leo has been racing the smallest yacht at the regatta with his girlfriend, Elin Goransson. “We share the helm, Elin was at the tiller all day yesterday and she is a very good sailor but I sailed Lorema here on my own from Falmouth, Cornwall. I left Falmouth in January and sailed to the Cape Verde Islands in June. The weather was pretty nasty at times and I took my time pulling into a few places. I don't mind admitting that I was apprehensive when leaving to cross the Atlantic. It was the first crossing for me and this is my first time in the Caribbean. Antigua Classics is amazing, I feel very privelidged to be racing on the same course as schooners and J Class, Rainbow. I know a few people competing, as like them, I am a boat builder and I have been nosing around, looking at their work and a few people have come to look at Lorema. She was a wreck when I first got her but she is a sturdy boat and capable of handling the Antigua conditions.”

Robbie Fabre is racing 1945 Marconi ketch, Vagabundo II. The crew are all friends and include several Antiguan boat builders and Karl James who has represented Antigua & Barbuda at the Olympic Games on two occasions. “Vagabundo II is a wet boat but she was designed for ocean racing.” commented Robbie. “I don't think we ever got dry during the Panerai Transat earlier this year, we were even sleeping in wet weather gear. It is great to have Karl James racing with us, he really knows the conditions out here and is a phenomenal sailor. Vagabundo is really an Antiguan boat, we restored her at the Antigua Slipway and last year we had Louis Sinclair on the bow, who is now doing the Volvo Ocean Race. Vagabundo competes at classic regattas in the Med' but Antigua Classics really stands out because you don't get these conditions anywhere else and ashore the regatta has a really great atmosphere. I wouldn't miss it for the world.”


A perfect end to the day's racing was the Parade of Classics in the historic surroundings of English Harbour. Each yacht was cheered as they approached the Antigua Slipway, with hundreds of classic fans enjoying lunch at the waterside eateries.

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