Saturday, May 20, 2017

Climactic Antigua Sailing Week!

J/39 sailing Antigua Sailing WeekJ/39 Sir LORD JIM Crowned “Big Banana”!
(English Harbour, Antigua) – The penultimate day of racing at the 50th edition of Antigua Sailing Week was held in near perfect conditions off the south coast of Antigua. The Caribbean surf and sea state had moderated in comparison to the start of the regatta, but the strength of the competition was undiminished. Apart from the Club Class, all classes have now completed six races or more, kicking in the discard rule which has caused yet another shuffle in the overall standings. The intensity of the racing at Antigua Sailing Week is confirmed by a single fact; in CSA 7, Sir Bobby Velasquez’s L’Esperance and Byerley & Sir Robbie Ferron’s J/39 LORD JIM/ MICRON 99, both from St. Maarten, will settle the duel on the regattas finale.

Cary Lee Byerley, co-skipper of the J/39 LORD JIM/ MICRON 99 reported: “It was a long sail out to Standfast, where Bobby (Velasquez) and Carlo (Falcone) got away from us. We caught back up on the reach and looked like we were back in the game for the first part of the downwind leg, but it was not to be as Bobby got the win and we got second. So now, our trusty knights have to battle it out in the final race. Sir Bobby has 8 points, while Sir Robbie has 9.5. Wish us luck; we need it if we are going to beat Bobby as his boat is very fast.”

Antigua Sailing WeekAfter a great day on the water, there was plenty going on for teams once ashore. During a lively daily prize-giving held at the historic Nelson’s Dockyard, a press conference was taking place for visiting international and local media at the beautifully restored 1783 Clarence House, just across the water. Callaloo Cay announced they are donning a prestigious new brand name – the Waldorf Astoria– for their next chapter as a premier luxury destination.

Later in the evening at Clarence House, competitors and some of the legendary Antigua Sailing Week veteran sailors were invited to celebrate the next 50 years of Antigua Sailing Week at a very special function sponsored by Callaloo Cay – The Lord Nelson Cocktail & Party.

The finale for the 50th Antigua Sailing Week produced absolutely classic trade wind conditions, serving up one last helping of awesome yacht racing. There were some shocking results.  In CSA 7, Ferron & Byerley’s J/39 Micron 99 Lord Jim needed to make up a 1.5 point deficit to Sir Bobbie Velasquez’s L’Esperance to win CSA 7. Effectively, Micron 99 Lord Jim had to win the last race and hope L’Esperance was third or lower – and their dreams came true!! Micron 99 Lord Jim won the last race by just two seconds with L’Esperance third by just 24 seconds!!  Wow, what a cliff-hanger to the very, very end of the regatta!

Winning the “Big Banana Trophy” for Best Caribbean Yacht and the “Grant Thornton Trophy” for Best Boat Overall in CSA 7-9 was Cary Byerley and Sir Robbie Ferron’s J/39 Micron 99 Lord Jim from St. Maarten. The team had to overcome a 1.5 point deficit in the last race to their long-term rivals, Sir Bobby Velasquez and his St. Maarten team racing L’Esperance. They went on to achieve victory by just two seconds!

J/122 sailing Antigua Sailing Week“Two seconds and half a point; shockingly dramatic,” commented Sir Robbie Ferron. “I could never believe it would be that close. In all my years, I have never won a regatta like that and I doubt if anyone else has. For the last three years, I have been racing against Bobbie in many regattas and we have always just missed out. I have great respect for him so we have a great respect for one another. Reflecting on how Antigua Sailing Week had evolved, this regatta has done the right things for the competitors, and it is getting the appropriate response. Sailors are enjoying the experience and that is why it has such a great turnout and I believe that the momentum will continue beyond the 50th regatta.”

In CSA 4 Racing Class, local knowledge was playing itself out amongst the many top crews in the hotly contested class.  Many top boats accustomed to garnering top three podium finishes in prior Caribbean regattas were noticeably absent; such was “the locals factor”.  Nevertheless, Doug Ayres’ charted the famous J/122 EL OCASO and his Team Skylark sailed a very consistent series to pull off a 4th place.  Next best J/crew were the UK/Australian crew on the J/133 JINGS with David Ballantyne, finishing 9th in class.

Similarly, in CSA 6 Racing class, the top J/crews could only muster a 5th (Peter Lewis’ J/105 WHISTLER from Barbados) and a 6th (David Cullen’s J/109 POCKET ROCKET from St Barths).

And then, the final party was played out by the amazing Antiguan band, Asher Otto & Itchy Feet.  In the end, 152 teams from 28 nations sailed the 50th Antigua Sailing Week from around the world.  Fourteen European countries were represented, including Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Great Britain, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, Norway, Sweden, Lithuania, Russia and Switzerland.  At least ten Caribbean island nations participated, including Antigua, Saint Maarten, St Barths, Puerto Rico, St Thomas USVI, Tortola BVI, Trinidad, Barbados, Martinique, and Jamaica.  And, from the “America’s”, there were teams from Canada, USA, Mexico and Argentina.   Sailing photo credits- Tim Wright/
For more Antigua Sailing Week information Add to Flipboard Magazine.