In honour of the 40th Antigua Sailing Week next year, there will be many changes to the Caribbean’s premier Yachting event. Neil Forrester, Chairman of the 2007 organising committee, revealed the new plans at an August event honouring Karl James, bronze medalist at the recent Central American and Caribbean Games in Colombia.
“After last year, we realised that we needed to make some changes,” said Forrester. “Sailing Week has been pretty much the same for the last few years and the event needs to evolve to satisfy the desires of today’s racers.” A questionnaire was sent out to all 2006 participants requesting their views on the event and possible changes, and more than 50 responses received are being used to direct thinking for 2007.
As much of this involved the courses, the first change was to appoint a new Race Committee. It now includes, Tommy Paterson, the Chairman, Karl James, Franklyn Braithwaite from A&F Sails, Commodore of the Antigua Yacht Club Gerry Bardoe, Dr. Bernie Evan-Wong, a local dentist and keen sailor, and Jan Santos.
There will be some changes to the racing categories, particularly to Division A boats, which Forrester said would bring ASW more into line with some of the other Caribbean regattas. "We are looking to harmonize the racing categories throughout the Caribbean in the optic of establishing a Caribbean Racing Series for 2008."
Another major change for 2007 will be the welcoming back of Multihulls, like catamarans and trimarans. "These have been absent from ASW for many years but there is now a serious group of racing multihulls from Guadeloupe and BVI that we would like to see come and race in Antigua." Racing multihulls will race in Division A and cruising catamarans will race in Division B.
Due to light and unpredictable winds for the last two years, it is now imperative to adapt the courses accordingly. From the comments received via the questionnaires it also appeared that the sailors, often based ashore around English Harbour, were not happy about being away from base for two consecutive nights. For this reason it has been decided to move the day that the event visits Jolly Harbour from Monday to Thursday.
The Division A courses will now run as follows. On Sunday 29th April the racing boats will head off from English Harbour and round the island in an anti-clockwise direction to arrive in Dickenson Bay for the traditional Dickenson Bay Beach Bash. This is the first leg of the "Yachting World Round the Island Race". The next day the boats will head out and continue their circumnavigation back to Falmouth completing the "Round the Island Race". On Tuesday the fleet will head out off Willoughby Bay for some Olympic style racing.
As always Wednesday is a break for the sailors, a day for either repairs or serious fun; either way there will be no racing on Wednesday unless the weather has yet again been unkind and a previous race has had to be cancelled. It will then be run on the Wednesday morning.
Thursday the boats are back out racing on the South Coast with some Windward/Leeward courses off the South West corner of the island. The Race venue moves to Jolly Harbour on the Thursday night with the Captain’s Cocktail Party and the traditional revelry in the local bars.
The event comes to a close on Friday after the traditional Ocean Races off the South Coast, one of the week’s high points if there is a good strong tradewind blowing in from the Atlantic.
The B Division for Cruising Boats will also see changes from this year. The fleet will set out on Sunday from Falmouth to Dickenson in a clock-wise direction. The next day it will be back to Falmouth. Tuesday will see them racing along the South Coast. Thursday they will head around the coast again to Five Islands before heading into Jolly Harbour and on Friday back to Falmouth.
Since it is the 40th anniversary, Forrester said that something special will need to be organised on shore to mark this special year, perhaps a birthday party for the event. The committee will be working on the plans for that event in the coming months.
Because of these changes and the Anniversary year, expectations are high that the event will attract over 200 participants as in previous years.
Report courtesy of Antigua Sailing Week Committee