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2019 Antigua Classic Yacht Regatta: Classics with colour

by Jan Hein 25 Apr 2019 02:30 BST 17-23 April 2019
Joining the mini Regatta for the first time were the Ponzi Class sailboats - Antigua Classic Yacht Regatta 2019 © Ed Whiting Photographer from the blue

The 2019 Antigua Classic Yacht Regatta fittingly came to a close after Tuesday's Gig Racing and Cream Teas at the Admiral's Inn in English Harbour. Wind off the south coast was awol but it blew sweet and steady in Nelson's Dockyard, a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Joining the mini Regatta for the first time were the Ponzi Class sailboats, the brainchild of Robbie Fabre. Rumour has it he built one for a swimming pool then schemed friends to grow the fleet. Six were in attendance, providing a crayon box of color with rig combinations from a designer's wildest dream. Performance wise, the fleet did well despite the need to paddle during tacking and some random sinking manoeuvres.

141' Schooner Columbia's two fishing dories, Little Fish and Manuel, rowed, sculled and sailed every event joined by aptly named Slow White. Gig Racing Chairperson Flip had to deal with a crowd of rowdy sailors. Replying to a protest threat she quipped, "Sure, go ahead...protest!" Trying to get youngsters on the water she announced, "We don't have any boats that kids can sail alone so are there any adults who will take them?" Luckily there were two and she assured, "They don't have to be your children but don't worry - they will go home tonight!"

Tucked safely away from the mayhem, a bevy of volunteers dressed in blooming hats and garden dresses served a mouth-watering selection of cream teas with homemade cakes and savouries – and of course, scones with strawberry jam and whipped cream (unfortunately there was no clotted cream available!)

Planning for the Classic Regatta is a year-round event but it comes to life because of exuberant energy infused from a tireless team of volunteers. Event jobs outnumber them so each wear many hats to ensure that the show will go on. Behind the scenes they set up, manage fleet information, serve as dinghy wranglers, trophy polishers and coordinators. They serve as concierge to captains and crew, IT trouble-shooters, assistants to everyone who needs help, always served with a smile. Leslie Arnold, who has long been our volunteer and hospitality coordinator, took on this year's event as overall Regatta Co-Coordinator, Trophy Queen and Race Coordinator, juggling every aspect from entries and ratings to stage set-up and prizes, she never missed a beat and probably didn't sleep a wink. To all our volunteers, particularly our illustrious and vibrant Race Committee Team, who toiled tirelessly behind the scenes up the hill at Fort Charlotte, we send a boat load of thanks. And last but by no means least we mustn't forget our talented photographers, who generously give us their time each year too and without whose wonderful images this would indeed be a dull Regatta.

Life in Falmouth Harbour is under way with change. Boats have left the dock heading toward points around the compass. 72' Fife ketch Eilean will board a ship for London; 54' Alden gaff schooner Severine is sailing to the Pacific via the Bahamas. 55' Rasmussen yawl Hilaria heads to France, Staysail Schooner 115' Eros to the East Coast of the States, Starling Burgess 40' sloop Morgaine to Europe and 47' Stephens gaff Schooner Avenger to Nova Scotia. Several boats will sail in Antigua's Race Week while a mini-fleet gets under way for the West Indies Regatta in St. Barths. They're off but with luck, they'll make their way back for the 2020 celebration of classic yachts and the salty souls who love them.

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