Despite the current financial challenges, the 43rd edition of Antigua Sailing Week (24- 30 April 2010) promises to be one of the best yet. The organisers of this annual Caribbean classic have listened to the competitors’ views and have come up with a new, tweaked format, incorporating some of the event’s traditional features such as reintroducing lay day, and the Dickenson Bay Beach Bash. There will also be an extra day’s racing, with the series kicking off on the Saturday afternoon following an early morning breakfast briefing.
For serious racers, the big boat Ocean Series is now a key element of Antigua Sailing Week and is really starting to attract some quality competition. The aim of this three-race series (Guadeloupe to Antigua Race – 23 April, Yachting World Round the Island Race – 25 April, and the Round Redonda Race – 28 April/lay day) is to allow the crews on big racing yachts, many of whom will have been competing in some of the other Caribbean regattas such as the RORC Caribbean 600 race, the opportunity to enjoy a selection of long-distance ocean races at ASW. There will be record-breaking opportunities in all three races, individual race prizes, and overall series prizes which means competitors have the option to compete in all three or individual races. The results of the Yachting World Round the Island Race on the Sunday will count towards the overall Antigua Sailing Week points for those who want to compete in that too.
Some of the key players such as Mike Slade’s 100ft super maxi ICAP Leopard, and Peter Harrision’s Farr 115 Sojana, which won the inaugural Round Redonda Race last year, and established a benchmark elapsed-time race record, have already indicated their interest in the 2010 event. Adrian Lee from Dublin, Ireland and his race winning team aboard the Cookson 50 – Lee Overlay Partners – will also be back next year to defend their overall winning title of the first ever Antigua Ocean Series. Lee enthusing about the Ocean Series, said: “The Ocean Series is a gem and exactly what the big boat sailors want at Antigua. Trying to race round the cans in these fast, powerful boats is not ideal because the risk of damage is high. I am therefore very much looking forward to seeing if we can equal, if not better our Ocean Series result from 2009.”
Niklas Zennstrom’s JV72 Ran with a star-studded team of British professional sailors onboard including Tim Powell, Adrian Stead and Steve Hayles, will be another team to watch out for. Danilo Salsi from Italy has also confirmed his place on the startline with his stunning new Swan 90 – DSK Pioneer. This yacht made her debut in the Caribbean last year and looks set to make a big impact on the racecourse in 2010.
An interesting addition to the fleet at Antigua Sailing Week 2010 will be the arrival of the three British Services Transglobe 67ft steel-hulled, former BT Global Challenge yachts which will, by then, have completed Leg 9 of their round the world tour. The 40-plus British forces service personnel aboard the yachts will count Antigua Sailing Week as Leg 10.
With such a vast array of competitors signing up for ASW, and with charter companies such as event silver sponsors OnDeck reporting a ‘sell out’ aboard all 15 charter yachts, and the likes of international professional sailors Brian Thompson, Sally Barkow and Doogie Couvreux skippering Safe Passage Sailing charter company’s Farr 65s and Beneteau 40.7, there’ll be no shortage of competition.
On shore, Antigua’s legendary party scene is already revving up with plans well underway for not only the Dickenson Bay bash and Jolly Harbour party but also the Antigua Sailing Week welcome party on the first Saturday night, a Caribbean street party on the Tuesday, a lay day beach party at the Pigeon Point, and the legendary Shirley Heights party on Thursday night, and of course the grand prize giving in Nelson’s Dockyard on the final Friday.
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.