'Antigua Sailing Day' Regatta

Post date: 28-Apr-2014 22:30:43

In a good breeze, 16 Laser dinghies – 4 with radial rigs – sailed in the Club's annual ‘Antigua Sailing Day’ Regatta, on Sunday. The Regatta celebrates and coincides with Antigua Sailing Week and, this year, was generously sponsored by the Antigua & Barbuda Tourism Authority.Tight class racing gave spectators and race officials much entertainment as boats attempted to out-manoeuvre each other around the racecourse. In the first race, a close fight between Alison Stevens – a new club member sailing her radial rigged boat - against Mike Steele, in his standard rigged Laser, produced much excitement, with Alison taking line honours and the race win. Alan Wright with his radial rig was pipped to third across the line by Nick Perrée on the final lap. Nick Perrée and Vicky Forkes had both worked their way through the fleet, gaining a place on each of the four laps of the course. Occasional gusts in the Force 3 breeze caught several sailors napping and the subsequent capsizes and gear breakages kept the rescue boat crew of Carl Day and Alan Shaw busy.

With a good start, Mike Steele dominated the second race, passing the first mark in first place and remaining there until taking the race win, four laps later. The spectators were kept hugely entertained by the tussle for second place with some interesting tactics between two of the radials sailed by Alison Stevens and Alan Wright, sailing each other off course in a very closely fought battle, where second and third places changed between them in each lap. Abby Freeley sailing another radial recovered from her first race boat breakage to take 4th place from Mike Senior. A capsize by the Commodore, Kieron Adams, put him back to a mid-fleet finish.

Lunch was enlivened by music played by a 3-piece steel band, which added a real Caribbean flavour to the event. This was further enhanced by a delicious rum punch made to a special recipe by the chef from the Antigua and Barbudan High Commission. It accompanied a hot chilli provided by kitchen maestro Kathie Butcher ably assisted by Sheena Senior. Cakes with a Caribbean theme were also consumed with gusto.

The third and final race of the Regatta saw a very tricky first beat, with Alan Wright and Mike Senior playing the shifts well and finishing the first lap in first and second places respectively. Mike Steele, who capsized on the first leg and Alison Stevens, who caught a bad wind shift, passed the first mark in the back half of the fleet. Some strong racing from this duo saw them pass the remaining competitors to take first and second line honours – a position reversed on rig-corrected time. Meanwhile, Craig Brown, recently returned to competitive sailing was forced to retire mid-race following a mast breakage.

Winners and runners-up were delighted with bottles of Aged English Harbour Antigua Rum, presented by Cherrie Osborne, Director of Tourism UK and Europe of the Antigua and Barbudan Tourist Authority.

The racing was followed by the Club’s inaugural, Sunday afternoon, youth sailing session. The sun was shining and the breeze gentle as some 20 youngsters took to the water under the direction of Nick Collier, Kieron Adams, Vicky and Guy Forkes. With a mixed fleet of Toppers, Lasers and Wanderers to play with, the junior sailors had great fun and came away very enthused.

See Gill Moon's fantastic photographs of the racing.