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Antigua Classic Yacht Regatta: Fully Rigged and Ready to Race

by Antigua Classic Yacht Regatta 17 Apr 06:22 BST 18-24 April 2018
Fully rigged and ready to race at the Antigua Classic Yacht Regatta © Beverly Factor /

The Antigua Classic Yacht Regatta (ACYR) proudly begins a fourth decade of showcasing maritime history and tradition during six days of high-spirited, world-class competition.

Races are held off the south coast of the island while celebration central is in Falmouth Harbour on the grounds of the Antigua Yacht Club. Prize Giving Ceremony and Gig Races & Cream Teas take place in Nelson's Dockyard, now a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Gathering together is a fleet of beauties spanning over ninety years in age and design. The matriarch, the 52' Skagen gaff ketch Samsara, built in 1924, returns with her pirate clad entourage who nailed last year's prize for Best Dressed Crew. Sharing newest build status are two classics alike in rig but worlds apart in size and style. Free in St. Barth, the 42' Alwyn Enoe sloop, was launched on the beach in Carriacou in 2015 while the 127' Hoek sloop Atalante made her prestigious debut from the Claasen Shipyard in the Netherlands. Representing the decades between are schooners, yawls, sloops and ketches from back yards and esteemed yards including Fife, Abeking and Rasmussen, Luders and Herreshoff.

After a year of boat-wrecking storms, we tip our hats to the owners who brought their vessels back to life. Apollonia, the 1967 Bill Tripp 56' yawl was holed by Hurricane Irma yet miraculously joins us after an intense rebuild in the BVI. We also salute those vessels saved from the curse of time like the 1957, 52' S&S yawl, Mah Jong. Recently restored by Gannon and Benjamin, she earned the 2018 Classic Boat Magazine award for Best Rebuild. Woodstock Boatbuilders just put finishing touches to the 36' Carriacou sloop, Sweetheart, built in 1986.

Sponsors Mount Gay Rum and Wadadli Beer will ignite the Regatta Wednesday with a Welcome Party, generously serving up libations and a fresh supply of coveted red hats. The Strays will rock the stage and the infamous camaraderie of the ACYR will get underway with full sail.

Thursday a final flurry of primping and polishing erupts dockside in anticipation of the Concours d'Elégance, fittingly sponsored by the Herreshoff Marine Museum. Several teams of judges, including UK author and sailor, Tom Cunliffe, will board boats to walk decks, peek below and pry loose those stories that define beauty and brawn.

Racing begins Thursday with the multi-tasking, single-handed skippers followed by four days of well-tested courses, each fueled by the lively Trades.

A jam-packed social schedule includes the Opening Party, Classic Vehicle Rendezvous, Parade of Classics and Open Mic Night. Solo acts and crew ensembles are rehearsing in anticipation of the Sea Shanty competition and if performances mimic last year's bawdy talent, there may be a need for a rating system.

The ACYR is known as a sailing reunion of old souls and salts. It's a place where friendships form, sea stories swap and indelible memories are made. We extend an Antiguan warm welcome to all who join us, and a reminder to hold on tight and enjoy the ride!

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