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English Harbour Race Day 1 at Antigua Sailing Week

by Louay Habib on 1 May 29 April - 5 May 2017

Old Traditions New Ways

Winning skippers on the first day of Antigua Sailing Week included Sir Richard Matthews taking part in his 37th Antigua Sailing Week and 18 year old Jules Mitchell who has never skippered at the regatta before.

With full blown tradewinds piping up to 20 knots in the gusts, the 50th edition of Antigua Sailing Week got off to a lively start for English Harbour Rum Race Day 1. The majority of the CSA Racing division was racing off Shirley Heights; spectators lined the look-out high above the race course and there was plenty of high octane action to enjoy. Boats and sailors from more than 33 different countries have come to Antigua Sailing Week and today's amazing weather conditions are one of the big attractions; solid breeze delivering boat speed fast enough to surf in warm blue Caribbean surf.

Blasting through the swell, Sir Peter Harrison's British Farr 115, Sojana was a magnificent sight and corrected out to win CSA 1 by a comfortable margin. British Swan 82, Stay Calm, skippered by Lloyd Kyte was second, with Jean-Paul Riviere's French Finot Conq 100, Nomad IV in third place.

Today's closest victory was in CSA 8. After CSA time correction, Tanner Jones' J/30, Caribbean Alliance Insurance was the winner by just 21 seconds from Steve Carson's Dehler 30, Hightide. Geoffrey Pidduck's converted Six Metre was third. All three podium places were filled by Antiguan boats.

CSA 4 features a dozen well sailed teams, many of which have been featuring on the podium at Caribbean regattas throughout the season. Sergio Sagramoso's Puerto Rican Melges 32, Lazy Dog scored a second today with Bernie Evan Wong's Antigua RP37, Taz taking third. But today's victor was Sir Richard Matthews' Humphreys 39, Oystercatcher XXXI.

Match racing champion, Andy Green has been coming to Antigua Sailing Week for many years; nearly always sailing as part of Richard Matthews' crew:

"Antigua Sailing Week is so much fun that debriefing after sailing is very much off the agenda. We eat rotis and play golf," laughed Andy Green. "Actually we sailed really well today. Saskia Clark is our tactician. She is a Gold and Silver Olympic medallist and doing a brilliant job for us. I help keep the wheels on the bus and it is so nice to be able to sail with Richard (Matthews) and win."

CSA 5 was incredibly competitive with the top eight boats separated by under 10 minutes after time correction. Ross Applebey's Oyster 48, Scarlet Oyster continues to impress after winning yesterday's Peters & May Round Antigua Race: the British team started their Antigua Sailing Week campaign with a victory. Jonty Layfield's Swan 48, Sleeper X was second, while Quokka 8, sailed by Performance Yacht Racing was third.

In CSA 3, Clint Brooks' Bajan TP52, Conviction was fully launched, especially downwind, planing at a top speed of 20 knots to slide through the line after a crazy last leg, blasting down the south side of the island to take line honours and the race win after time correction. Adrian Lee's Irish Cookson 50, Lee Overlay Partners was always a threat and after time correction finished just over a minute behind Conviction. Sir Hugh Bailey's Antigua Farr 45, Rebel-B was in an outstanding position. However near the end of the race, the block holding their headsail failed. The team recovered to take third position.

In CSA 6, Fritz Bus' Melges 24, Island Waterworld was the first yacht to finish, but the St. Maarten team was chased all the way by the young team from the National Sailing Academy, racing the Cork 1720 Spirit. After time correction, the young Antiguans won the race. Island Waterworld was second with Peter Lewis' Bajan J/105, Whistler in third. Spirit is crewed by teenaged Antiguans from the National Sailing Academy and skippered by Jules Mitchell from Sea View Farm, Antigua. He has has represented his country twice at the ISAF Youth Sailing World Championship.

"We are in a tough class at Antigua Sailing Week with two well-sailed Melges 24s. It is going to be a hard week, but we are ready for it," commented Jules Mitchell. "We are happy but it is only the first race, so the real celebration is going to be at the end of the week and we are going to look forward to that."

Antigua Yacht Club was the venue for the English Harbour Rum daily prize giving with plenty of Antigua Sailing Week's favourite rum to savour. After a full-on day of racing in paradise, over a 1,000 sailors packed the Antigua Yacht Club lawn for the daily prize giving. Live music was provided by 1761 and they don't play to empty dance floors, so the party will last well into the night.

Full results are available at www.sailingweek.com

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