Thursday, 23 April 2009


23 April 2009 - Velsheda triumphs at Antigua Classic Yacht Regatta

Once again the ever popular Antigua Classic Yacht Regatta, which ran from April 16 - 21, enjoyed another fantastic year of competitive sailing and lively social gatherings. Among the 30 metre plus yachts entered this year were the J class yachts Ranger and Velsheda, the 42 metre ketch Rebecca and the 46 metre staysail schooner Windrose of Amsterdam. All eyes were on the two Js with sailors bracing themselves for some fierce rivalry and close competition.

The weather on day one was delightful with sunshine, gentle seas and just enough winds to satisfy the needs of the 62 classic yachts entered. The fleet were well spread out as they rounded the first mark, unsurprising given the range of the LOAs of the competing yachts. The larger yachts were started an hour and a quarter after the first class but swiftly caught up with the smaller yachts in the fleet. Velsheda took the Spirit of Tradition class A finishing the twenty nautical mile course in 2 hours 33 minutes of corrected time.

There were more light winds on day two as the yachts set off to tackle the twenty mile, six-leg Butterfly course, designed to get contestants to use all their sail configurations. Velsheda triumphed for a second time showcasing her crews' nifty sail changes and trimming skills. The pimms party served on the lawn of the Antigua Yacht Club went down a treat as the competitors waited for the day's race results. As the evening worn on and crew wound down there was singing and merriment to the sounds of local band Time Machine.

Day three dawned grey and gloomy with a feeble nine knots of wind, prompting the organisers to delay the start of the race by fifteen minutes. This turned out to be a prudent decision as the trades gradually picked up throughout the day to a pleasant 12 - 15 knots, providing the majority of the fleet with a faster third leg. The yachts stretched their legs over the 24 mile course before heading back to English Harbour for the much anticipated Parade of the Classics. Then it was back to the yacht club for the famous Maine lobster bisque and champagne night. Local band the Hot Doggers provided a great soundtrack to the fun atmosphere.

On day four, the last day of racing, the fleet experienced a fair wind start with an exciting reach for the last leg with gusts of over 20 knots. The organisers reported that an unfortunate "incident" occurred between the two J Class entrants on the beat to windward forcing them both to retire. The heat of the rivalry between them had apparently caused them to crash causing minor damage to both hulls and rigs. This, however, gave Windrose of Amsterdam a chance to show her true colours as she took the class in just over three hours of corrected time. The evening was dedicated to individual crew dinners at the local restaurants as team work was celebrated before tuesday's cream team party and prize giving ceremony.

The overall regatta result for the Spirit of Tradition class A were:

1. Velsheda
2. Ranger
3. Windrose of Amsterdam
4. Rebecca

For all class results visit the regatta website.