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'Antigua Sailing Day Regatta' at Lackford Lake

by Mike Steele 26 Apr 2016 09:16 BST 24 April 2016

Competitors in the St Edmundsbury Sailing and Canoeing Association's 'Antigua Sailing Day Regatta' at Lackford Lake, near Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk, were greeted to very un-Caribbean like conditions, with near freezing temperatures and hail. However, they enjoyed a great day's racing and warm Antiguan hospitality.

The regatta was initiated 4 years ago as a fun Club event to celebrate and coincide with 'Antigua Sailing Week'. Through a Google news alert, the Regatta came to the attention of the Antigua and Barbuda Tourism Authority, who were so taken with the initiative that they have been generously supporting the event ever since.

In the first race, there was a scramble to start at the favoured outer end of the line. James Denny in his Topper got away well, followed by the Enterprise of Commodore Carl Day and Club Secretary Alan Shaw. These two boats were closely pursued by a pack of Lasers. The Enterprise got the best of the shifts and lead around the first mark with Mike Steele's Laser close on its transom. Steele slipped past down wind and pulled way to finish first, while a close battle ensured between the Lasers of Mike Senior, Tim Perree, Andrew Griffiths and Jon Holmefjord, with the Day/Shaw Enterprise not far from the fray. Meanwhile, James Denny lead the pursuing fleet of six Toppers. Steele held his position on corrected time with James Denny securing second.

Fliss Elsom-Cook in her Topper had a good start in the second race but was soon overtaken by the faster Steele Laser and Day/Shaw Enterprise. Steele had a tight race with the Griffith's Laser, before Perree managed to get past Griffith on the final lap. The Day/Shaw Enterprise had an equally close race with the Moore/Willoughby Wanderer, while the Denny family fought it out in their Toppers. Leslie Denny slipped past Elsom-Cook, leaving all to play for, to determine the winner of the Ladies' Trophy. On corrected time, Steele took another first, Perree second and James Denny third.

After a welcome lunchbreak, during which crews were refreshed with food of a suitably Caribbean nature and cheered by the sounds of an authentic steel band, courtesy of the Tourism Authority, racing resumed for the third and final race. Steele and Griffiths had another close tussle. A capsize by Steele nearly lost him the lead but he recovered to take another line win. However, James Denny sailed flawlessly to take the race on corrected time with Steele second and Griffiths third.

Overall, Steele finished first, James Denny second and Griffiths third. In the Ladies Trophy, Fliss Elsom-Cook took first with Leslie Denny second. In the Youth category, James Denny came first, with his younger brothers Richard second, Sam third and the youngest brother Ben, doing extremely well in his Optimist, fourth. Special mention should be made of the Mildenhall and Newmarket Sea Cadets, who were represented by Barney Foreman and Josh Lawrence.

Prizes were presented by Cherrie Osborne, Marketing Director of the Antigua and Barbuda Tourism Authority. Next year sees the 50th Anniversary of the 'Antigua Sailing Week', so the Club is planning to make SESCA's 5th 'Antigua Sailing Day Regatta' a suitably memorable occasion.

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