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Youth in the limelight at Antigua Sailing Week

by Louay Habib 30 Apr 06:34 BST 27 April - 3 May 2024

The breeze was on the up for the second day of Antigua Sailing Week, celebrating youth sailing on Axxess Marine Youth 2 Keel Race Day. The 10-knot easterly breeze piped up during the day, gusting up to 15 knots.

Today's race courses were a windward leeward festival of racing along the impressive south coast of Antigua. The keys to victory were nailing the manoeuvres and staying in clear air, especially in the CSA Racing Classes on the Rendezvous Course.

Congratulations to all of the provisional Class Winners on Axxess Marine Youth2Keel Race Day: Wavewalker, Sang Neuf, Clippers Ship Daub 6, GFA Caraïbes - La Morrigane, Pepsi Zéro-Montebello, Credit Mutuel Jivaro, Quintessence III, McFly on El Ocaso, Strada Geothermal Escapado, Caccia alla Volpe, Alpha Centauri of London, Eira, Absolute Properties Blue Peter, Hightide, Braque-KH+P, Lunatic Fringe Island Time, Nevis KH+P, Jabberwock and Fresia.

Results at yachtscoring.com/event_results_cumulative.cfm?eID=16104

Axxess Marine Youth 2 Keel Race Day is all about celebrating youth, the future of the sport of sailing. Since the Youth 2 Keel (Y2K) programme was launched five years ago 150 young sailors have raced at Antigua Sailing Week. This year a record 48 young sailors are racing, nudging that total close to 200. The Y2K sailors at Antigua Sailing Week are selected from the National Sailing Academy and Antigua Yacht Club and race on 17 different boats. Nearly a third are female and the youngest are just 12 years of age.

The Y2K programme gives Antiguan youth sailors more than just a springboard into Antigua Sailing Week; that is just the start of the journey. Many past Y2K sailors have taken up employment in the marine industry, both in Antigua and overseas. Based in Falmouth Harbour Antigua, Axxess Marine is a global provider of connectivity and communication solutions. This is the third year that Axxess Marine has supported the Y2K Programme at Antigua Sailing Week.

"Especially for the employees of Axxess Marine who are Antiguan nationals, it is really good to be connected to a company that is fostering youth development," commented Axxess Marine Marketing Manager, Reeva Armstrong. "Without Y2K, the marine industry is an area that these youths don't get exposure to. That is the heart and soul of Axxess Marine's involvement in supporting Y2K. We have developed a personal relationship with these kids over the last three years and it is amazing to see how they have developed in that time. For Axxess Marine, seeing these kids progress and make their way in sailing is as personal as it gets."

Racing in the Legacy Class at Antigua Sailing Week are some of the legends of the regatta with decades of experience, well, all bar one boat. Tanner Jones' J/30 Absolute Properties Blue Peter (ANT).

Tanner is on board Blue Peter, but the remaining seven crew are all part of the Y2K Programme. Co-skippers Carrack and Tyden Jones are just 13 and 14 respectively. Also racing on board is believed to be the youngest sailors at Antigua Sailing Week; Isla Brookes and Jhamely Parades are just 12 years old. The teenage crew includes Linc Beswick, Cosmo Brookes, Mia Duce and Imani John Polanco. Blue Peter is leading the Legacy Class after four races from Geoffrey Pidduck's Dehler 34 Hightide (ANT).

"Most of the crew have sailed together before on Blue Peter, but racing at Antigua Sailing Week is great," commented Carrack Jones. "The other boats in our class don't treat us any different just because we are young, so the competition is really tough. Our spinnaker hoists and drops were good today, and there were plenty of them."

Racing in the pocket-rocket CSA 6 Class is Ashley Rhodes Melges 24 Whiplash (ANT). All of Ashley's crew are past or present Y2K sailors heralding from the AYC Youth Programme. Sixteen-year-olds on board are Luca Deleau, Emily Gaillard, Patrick Greensmith and Alistair Knoblauch. Tactician Rhone Kirby came up through Y2K and is now an instructor at the Antigua Yacht Club.

"Of course it is important for the Y2K youths to know how to sail, but a positive attitude and taking up the challenge are just as important," commented Rhone Kirby. "There are not many countries like Antigua that have been running a youth programme for so long, and it is definitely producing great sailors."

A brand new team for Antigua Sailing Week is the National Sailing Academy's 1720 NSA Challenger. The entire team are sailors from the NSA, skippered by 23 year-old Tajanica Thomas with Y2K Senior T'Quan James. The young teenage crew are all from the National Sailing Academy.

"Challenger is a young teenage crew that race dinghies, but have never sailed keelboats before," smiled Tajanica Thomas. "It is a different situation for myself as usually I am not in the boat with them. Our performance is improving with every race and our long term goal is to be competitive next year."

Racing in Bareboat 2 is Bill Lehnert's Lunatic Fringe - Island Time III (USA). Bill Lehnert's team competed in the Antigua & Barbuda Hamptons Challenge Regatta and won an all-expenses paid trip for six to Antigua Sailing Week. The crew is made up of two families including five teenagers.

"We are a multi-generational family team consisting of brothers, sisters, sons, daughters, and some great friends for good measure!" says Bill Lehnert. "We've been sailing together for 20+ years and the younger crew are in High School and have been friends since they were born. We have four women aboard (three teens), all skilled sailors that have skippered numerous types of boats from dinghies to big boats."

After racing the Regatta Bars were bustling for business, cold Heineken was top of the hit list at the Antigua Yacht Club Lawn. A packed house cheered the winners on stage at the Axxess Marine Youth 2 Keel Daily Prize Giving.

The fancy dress theme of Tropical Shirt Nite produced some crazy colours on the dance floor at the AYCM Platform. Cover-band Those Guys Again ripped out some banging tracks. Racing at Antigua Sailing Week continues on Tuesday 30 April with Citizenship By Investment Unit Race Day.

For more information about Antigua Sailing Week including racing, watching the action and the fun-packed shoreside entertainment, visit the official website: sailingweek.com

Follow on social media: #antiguasailingweek #ASW55 #racechasecelebrate #asw2024

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