Everyone's in Antigua

Apart from James Boyd, who reviews what he's missing this week

Friday April 26th 2002, Author: James Boyd, Location: Caribbean
The 35th running of the Caribbean's biggest regatta, Antigua Sailing Week kicks off on Sunday with an impressive fleet of more than 200 boats from every corner of the globe.

The hardcore shoreside aspect of the regatta has been cranking up all this week in the numerous hotspots along 'the strip' between Falmouth and English harbours and other popular dens of iniquity nearby. Tomorrow will see the skipper's briefing taking place, while the racing proper kicks off on Sunday.

There have been a few amendments to the racing this year. Once again the fleet is divided into division 'A' - racing, big boat, sportsboat and racer/cruiser (with spinnaker) classes, while division B includes racer/cruiser (non spinnaker), cruiser and bareboat classes. But this year for the first time the different division will be racing on separate courses. On the first race up to Dickenson Bay Division A will follow an eastward course around the windward side of the island, while Division B will sail on the leeward side to the west.

After a night of serious partying on the beach, there will then follow some Olympic triangle courses off Dickenson Bay on the Monday, with a race back to Falmouth harbour on the Tuesday.

Wednesday is lay day when merry hell breaks loose. Ashore there are festivities around both English and Falmouth harbours - the wet T shirt competition for some reason always seems to be a high point - the Antigua Yacht Club also run a singlehanded race open to boats of up to 45ft. Take your pick.

The racing continues on the Thursday and Friday off the south side of the island.

The entry list is teeming with boats from maxis, to the ever increasing bareboat charter division, to sports boats and cruisers, although at 205 it is slightly light from the record year when 256 yachts attended.

For the maxis Antigua Sailing Week is the culmination of the 2002 Caribbean Big Boat Series which includes the Heineken St Maarten and BVI Spring regattas. To date with two regattas down, in the racing division Roy Disney's Pyewacket leads from Tom Hill's Santa Cruz 68 Titan and Bill Alcott's Andrews 70 Equation. In the racer/cruiser division it is a field day for Formula 1 Event Management whose three boats Spirit of Diana, Spirit of Isis and Spirit of Juno - all of them Farr 65s - hold the top three spots.

Particularly impressive is the turn out of Swans of which 16 are taking part. For the ooh-aah factor, there is the brand spanking new Swan 70 Serano of London belonging to former Corel 45 owner Robert Condon, which Hamble's own Richie Faulkner is running. Among the stalwart Swans are Peter Ogden's Swan 60 Spirit of Jethou and Kingfisher boss Sir Geoffrey Mulcany's 56 Noonmark VI.

Then there is the 57 Bravo, the smallest of just two boats US TV magnate Jim Dolan has at Antigua Sailing Week this year (in the past he has also bought his maxi Sagamorefor an almighty raft up in Dickenson Bay). Also taking part is King's Legend, the Swan 65 took part in the 1977/8 Whitbread Round the World Race.

Other notables in the fleet are Oyster boss Richard Matthew's Oystercatcher XIV with former America's Cup star Harold Cudmore on board. If you see a boat with a free standing rig then it is likely to be Bruce Schwab's Open 60 which the Californian skipper will be racing singlehanded around the world in Around Alone later this year.

Wave if you see the Swan 48 Celebrity for madfor sailing boss Tony Harris and his wife Sarah are among the crew. Not part of Sailing Week, but cruising around will also be Tracy Edwards and her team on board the 110ft catamaran Maiden II.

For the list of entries see page 2...

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