Thrills and Spills: Yachting World Round Antigua Race
There was drama right from the start of the 2012 Yachting World Round Antigua Race: Squally conditions intensified the trade winds to churn up the swell into a foaming powerful sea state with rogue waves reaching over three metres. The feisty conditions caused at least two retirements due to gear failure. Allyn Salomon’s Beneteau Oceanis 473, Hermosita suffered a damaged rudder and South African Jan Rupert entry, Tripp 75 Blackbird was another casualty. The Mini Maxi suffered a ripped mainsail as the mighty yacht pounded through the surf. This was much to the frustration of the crew including David Glenn, Editor of Yachting World who had joined Blackbird for the day.
In CSA 3 two Antiguan yachts came to the fore. Stephen Carson’s Dehler 34 Hightide was the eventual winner, but one of the smallest yachts in the entire fleet, Tanner Jones’ J/30 Blue Peter, raced with great aplomb in difficult conditions to claim second. Rick Gormley’s First 38, Elethea was third.
In CSA 2 First 40, Smile and Wave, skippered by Mario Martinez won by less than two minutes on corrected time from Nick Burns’ First 40, Lancelot II. Matthew Shafer’s First 40.7 Cheeki Rafiki was third.
The Yachting World Round Antigua Race was quite an experience for the crew of Smile and Wave, as Jaime Torres explains: “Mario Martinez is skipper for the week and our only real preparation for this race was to sail to the start line, but the team did exceptionally well. However, I didn’t take into account Sunken Rock off Indian Creek and as a result we hit. Nobody was hurt and we continued racing, but the error let Lancelot II get away and we could only match them for speed downwind around the windward side. However, we played the shifts well on the beat to finish and managed to make a big gain. I have to say I am really looking forward to Antigua Sailing Week, I am sure we are going to have a great battle with Lancelot.”
In CSA 1, Peter Harrison’s Farr 115, Sojana got a great start and powered away upwind as a torrent of spray engulfed the magnificent ketch’s bow. Working the maneuvers on Sojana is a skillful and hugely energetic team effort, which is fraught with danger and later in the race that peril was to manifest itself in no uncertain terms.
Sojana had a cracking race, touching close to 20 knots of boat speed down the windward side of Antigua. Crew work had to be slick - even on a long race, corners come up alarmingly fast and with pressure loads measured in tens of tons, even a small error can be a real problem. One hyper gust sent Sojana’s enormous spinnaker bellowing to leeward, the main sail boom perilously close to digging a sizeable whirlpool into the hissing blue water, the big ketch was pushing hard.
With just nine miles to go, Sojana needed to average 10 knots to break the record when foredeck crew Maurice Belgrave fell off the bow to leeward. With Poul Hoj-Jensen at the helm, Sojana pulled off a text book recovery. Without using the engine, Maurice was in the water for less than five minutes before the bow crew plucked him to safety, pulling Maurice out of the water and up a full three metres of freeboard. Apart from a small gash, he was unharmed in the incident, which is a credit to the entire crew of Sojana.
“Maurice usually dives the boat so it was no big surprise!,” joked Sojana’s skipper Marc Fitzgerald after the race. “To be fair, I don’t think we would have broken our record even if Maurice hadn’t gone for a swim. That time set in 2009 was a very good one and today, the square beat to finish meant a lot of tacking to stay out of the tide and I think that is where we fell behind, but we are delighted that Maurice is fine and it is great to start the week by winning the Yachting World Trophy.”
Despite Sojana’s excellent efforts, on corrected time the German Tripp 56, Passion 4C steered by Admiral’s Cup winner, Stefan Lehnert corrected out to win CSA 1 by just over two minutes with Sojana second. Hector Velarde’s Peruvian NM92, Locura was third.
Today marks the start of the 45th Antigua Sailing Week with racing for all classes. The forecast conditions are for a full on foam up for the first day of the Caribbean’s most famous regatta.
Today at 2.30pm join the crews following racing for the iMobile Dockyard Festival. with entertainment from Claudette 'CP' Peters and the Taxik band, 1761•, Hygh Tempa, the Harmonites Steel Orchestra and inside the Copper and lumber Hotel the Antiguan Marine Art and Photography Exhibition.
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