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Big Breeze and Lumpy Seas Spiced Up the Action at Antigua Sailing Week 2011

Sailors come to Antigua for thrilling, warm, adrenalin-pumping sailing and today, the hundreds of competitors at Antigua Sailing Week certainly got what they came for.

Big breeze and lumpy seas spiced up the action for the third day of racing.  Twenty knots of breeze, gusting over 25 with seas of up to two metres provided some seriously feisty conditions. It was a wet wild ride upwind but with a sea temperature of 25ºC, it was a labour of love.  Downwind, those who could stay in control came out on top. Big wind and big waves turned the Antiguan race course into surf city. The conditions caused several retirements which have meant quite a few changes to overall positions of yachts racing at Antigua Sailing Week.

Class I has now become a battle between Hugo Stenbeck’s Dubois 90, Genuine Risk and Richard Matthews’ Humphries 54, Oystercatcher XXVIII. Genuine Risk ripped through the start line off Windward Beach, smashing through the rising seas in an awesome display of power. At 12 knots upwind with green water on the foredeck, Genuine Risk was an impressive sight. Oystercatcher XXVIII was never going to keep up, a real David and Goliath match. Genuine Risk bore away at the top mark and exploded downwind surfing at over 25 knots. Oystercatcher XXVIII hoisted some distance behind Genuine Risk but blew out the spinnaker in the feisty conditions. Genuine Risk was literally miles ahead but a complete hydraulic failure approaching the top mark halted the flying machine’s progress, their canting keel flopping like a pendulum. Oystercatcher XXVIII took full advantage, passing Genuine Risk to take its second win of the regatta and the overall lead in Class 1, but only on countback by virtue of scoring two first places.

Lloyd Thornburg’s Gunboat 66, Phaedo won both of today’s races in Multihull 1. The orange hulls were pretty much airborne upwind and hit the turbo downwind, streaking through the surf at breath-taking speed. Phaedo took line honours and two bullets on corrected time by a significant margin. However, Eduardo Perez-Bengochea’s Gunboat 62, CucuBelle still leads the class but the margin has narrowed to just three points.

Peter Harrison’s Farr 115, Sojana revelled in the heavy air to win both of today’s races in Class 2. Sojana with around the world yachtsman, Brian Thompson on board, is now class leader. Taking over from from Carol Swift and Stefan Lehner’s Passion 4 C. Paul Fevang’s Swan 66, Godot remains third overall.

Phillip Lotz’s Swan 42, Arethusa, sailed well in the tough conditions, especially downwind. Arethusa’s distinctive red and white spinnaker was easy to spot as the American boat took off downwind in perfect control and it now leads Class 3. Dig Van Der Slikke’s Grand Soleil 43, D-Trip was top of Class 3 this morning but had to retire during the first race of the day with rudder failure. However the Dutch crew returned to Falmouth Harbour and after a hasty repair, came back to win the second race of the day but the retirement has cost them the class lead. James Dobbs’, J122, Lost Horizon, had a consistent day to hold its third place position.  Richard Weslund’s J120, El Ocaso and Steve Crooke’s Puerto Rican First 40, Smile and Wave, were a sensational sight surfing downwind today and scored their first podium finishes of the regatta.

In Class 4, Calvin Reed’s First 40.7, Elandra was in fine form, yet again. After a highly competitive first beat with the front-runners in their class, Sir Hugh Bailey’s Hugo B and Carlo Falcone’s Caccia alla Volpe. Carlo Falcone invited Yachting World’s Toby Hodges on board every day and he has been loving the experience. “Elandra is very quick, they have sailed the boat extremely well. We put up the big running kite downwind today, poled back and got the boat speed over 14 knots down a wave but Elandra is just unstoppable. It has been great fun sailing at Antigua Sailing Week and the social scene has been great as well,” commented Toby Hodges.  Elandra is top of the class with Caccia alla Volpe second. Hugo B had gear failure today and retired before completing the first race. OnDeck’s First 40.7, Spirit of Athena moves up to third overall.

Jonty Layfield’s immaculate Swan 44, Sleeper had a hiccup in the first race of the day with a lowly fifth but came back strongly to win the second race and retain the Class 5 lead. Gennaro Aversaro’s First 47.7, Alcor V posted a first and a third today to retain second place overall with Andy Middleton’s sistership, Global Yacht Racing still third in class.

Peter Bainbridge’s J122, Sky Hunter II handled the conditions extremely well, to post two bullets today, propelling them above Geoffrey Pidduck’s Six Meter, Biwi Magic for the overall lead in Class 6. Peter Lewis’ J105, Whistler did not start the last race of the day and slipped out of the top three overall as a result. Thomas Mullen’s J95, Shamrock VII scored two podium finishes today and moved up to third in class overall.

It was great to see local favourite Sandy Mair back on the race course today, after his boat Streaker was holed yesterday. Class 7 is proving to be one of the most competitive classes at Antigua Sailing Week. Although Rick Gormley’s First 38 is well ahead on points, every race has been a close affair. Tanner Jones’ J30, Blue Peter scored a first and a third today putting them into third overall. Bernie Evan-Wong’s Cal 40, Huey Too has yet to win a race but consistent results means that the Antiguan boat is second overall. Elthea has a commanding lead but a dead-heat on corrected time with Stephen Carson’s, Dehler 34 Hightide today, just goes to show the hot competition in this class.

In Class 8a, Marc Delbaere’s Sun Odyssey 54, Derbisolar is still top of the class but they did not have it all their own way today, in fact they did not win either race. Ian Galbraith’s Oyster 53, Jigsaw won the first and David & Ann Chatterton’s Jeanneau 49, Resting Goose won the second. In Class 8b, Vincent White’s O’Day 35, Seal had a great day at the office with two wins today, making that four in a row at Antigua Sailing Week. Seal is one of only two boats in the regatta with a perfect score line.

Christoph Nielsen’s KH+P Pinel, also has a perfect string of bullets and continued their domination of Bareboat 1 with an impressive display in Bareboat 1. Tony Mack’s Sugar Cane is second overall and Russel Bertrand’s Sun Odyssey, Tartane third.

In Bareboat 2, Alexander Pfieffer KH+P Sea You Later won the first race of the day but did not finish the second, causing Sea You Later to drop from first overall to third. Alfred Geisser scored a first and a second today and now leads the class. KH+P Clarabella skippered by Beate Mohn are now second overall.

There was drama last night in Falmouth Harbour. It is with a great degree of sadness that we must report that a fire on board Titan Powerplay took hold in Falmouth Marina last night, resulting in the boat being badly damaged. Nobody has been injured, however the Reichel Pugh 75 has been damaged beyond immediate repair and will not be racing for the rest of the regatta.

Tonight’s party action takes place on the spectacular cliff top of Shirley Heights. One of the greatest reggae stars of all time will be performing live. Over 2,000 people are expected to dance the night away to the legendary Maxi Priest.

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