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Battle of the big boats at Antigua Sailing Week 2010

With the likes of Niklas Zennstrom’s 72-footer Ran, Tom Hill’s custom Reichel/Pugh 75 Titan 15, Austin Fragomen’s JV TP52 Interlodge, and Mike Slade’s 100ft super maxi ICAP Leopard all toning up for 43rd edition of Antigua Sailing Week (24-30 April 2010), competition is expected to be exceptionally challenging for this annual Caribbean extravaganza.

The smart-looking Judel-Vrolijk TP52 Interlodge underwent an extensive IRC conversion last year and was re-launched in October 2009 which makes her a strong contender under IRC and certainly one to watch at the front of the big boat fleet.

Interestingly it was at ASW last year while competing on his Swan 42 when Fragomen decided to purchase a TP52. Kris Matthews – captain – says having enjoyed the event so much in 2009 they were keen to compete again and bring the ‘new’ boat. “We loved the racing, weather, and island’s hospitality last year so that’s why we have decided to return again!”

When Interlodge makes her debut under a different guise at ASW, she will have only competed in one regatta during the run-up. Matthews continued: “Her first big outing before Antigua Sailing Week will be at the International Rolex Regatta, St Thomas. Other than that it will be just a few tune up sessions.”

Team Interlodge and Ran will doubtless be keeping a weather eye on Tom Hill’s 75-footer – Titan 15 – which has already shown big fleet potential having won last year’s early season Block Island Race when she was ‘fresh out the box’. She’s another 3ft longer on the waterline than Ran which means she’ll have the upper hand by dictating racing from the front but with some extremely talented sailors on all three teams, the results will be difficult to predict. Tim Powell from Ran confirmed: “We haven’t raced either of these boats before but should imagine it will be very close.”

Going by her current form Ran has to rank among the favourites. In less than a year, the team has notched up a string of enviable results including overall wins in the Rolex Fastnet Race, Portofino Regatta, 2009 Capri Regatta, 2009 Maxi Worlds and most recently a 1st in IRC Div 1 at the Rolex Sydney Hobart Race. Interestingly Powell saysRan’s schedule over the next couple of months have changed which means they are now no longer competing in the RORC Caribbean 600. “This is due to time and shipping constraints,” added Powell. “She has been left in Sydney where she will undergo a small refit, well deserved after a very busy and hectic 2009. She will ship direct from there to Antigua in time for Antigua Race Week.”

Although Powell couldn’t confirm whether Ran would be competing in the Guadeloupe Race, he said it was fairly likely given the fact the she won’t have been sailed for several months since the Sydney Hobart Race.

For Antigua Sailing Week regulars, Mike Slade and his all-star team aboard 100ft super maxi ICAP Leopard, it’s a case of unfinished business after a broken boom scuppered their chances of an overall Ocean Series win last year. The boat is currently still in Sydney following the Sydney Hobart Race but Chris Sherlock – captain – says she’ll be shipped to the Caribbean in time for the week. “Actually, added Sherlock, “we also hope to compete in Les Voiles de Saint Barth at the beginning of April which will be a good warm up for Antigua Sailing Week.”

As far as local boats go, the Trinidad contingent is looking to take home some silverware. The Reichel/Pugh 44 – Storm – is set to turn a few heads if she can fulfil her ambition to win Antigua Sailing Week. According to Paul Amon of Soca Sailboats Ltd, Storm is one of a long line of Soca’s boats that have together won every regatta in the Caribbean barring Antigua. Storm will be sailed by a totally Trini crew including owner/skipper Peter Peake, Peter Knox, Paul Amon, Mark Loe, Rocky Garcia , Mark Chapman, Nicko Gomes, and Allan Alkins.

The schedule for Antigua Sailing Week starts with Race 1 of the Ocean Series – the Guadeloupe to Antigua Race – on Friday April 23, with racing for ASW series kicking off on Saturday afternoon following an early morning breakfast briefing at Antigua Yacht Club. The Yachting World Around the Island Race (Race 2 of the Ocean Series) is on Sunday 25 April, and the Round Redonda Race (Race 3 of the Ocean Series) takes place on Wednesday 28 April (lay day).

For regular, updated information, racing schedule, and to secure a place on the start line of Antigua Sailing Week and the Ocean Series 2010 go to www.sailingweek.com.

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