The list of boat names is legendary: Titan. Kialoa. Infinity. Sayonara. Morning Glory. Pyewacket. The roster of yachts and sailors who have captured overall honors at Antigua Sailing Week is certainly long and distinguished. And today, on the sixth and final day of competition for the Division A race boats at the annual regatta, a new skipper and boat joined that illustrious list of champions when Charles Dunstone’s Transpac 52, Rio, capped a dominating performance with two more victories to win overall honors for the 2009 edition of Antigua Sailing Week.
“We got what we came for, sunshine and twenty-five knots every day,” said Rio’s captain, Richy O’Farrell. “We had a pretty good week in terms of crew work and boat handling. Everyone seems very happy, certainly Charles is walking away from the week very pleased. The day around the island was awesome, and we had another day where we had a little squall come through as we went offshore, so that was a 30-knot flame-up and we hit some pretty good speeds with spray all over the deck so it was good. I think we saw 24 or 25 knots (of boat speed) that day so it was up there.”
Rio’s largely professional crew, including many members of England’s Team Origin America’s Cup squad, also included former Duran Duran lead singer, and Whitbread Round-the-World Race veteran, Simon Le Bon.
“Everyone did a good job this week,” said O’Farrell. “The trimmers were Simon Fry from North Sails, and Chris Mason and Tom McWilliam. They all did a fantastic job. James Stark is our crew boss and pitman and he’s been a big part of our campaign from the start, really, overseeing all the work lists and stuff, and helping me out with the running of the boat. Charles did a great job on the wheel—it wasn’t easy. I think everyone had a good week.”
Rio, a Judel/Vrolijk design built by the renowned Green Marine boatyard in Lymington, U.K., was originally called Stay Calm. Since her purchase by Dunstone a year ago, Rio has been overhauled for IRC competition and had recorded second-place finishes in both Skandia Race Week and in the recently completed Acura Miami Grand Prix, and a third in IRC-1 at the 2009 Acura Key West Race Week, prior to her success in Antigua.
Regarding the boat’s IRC optimization, which included a revamped keel bulb, O’Farrell said, “We took the internal ballast out which is a TP thing, and added a flat-head main which is the main change to the sail inventory. We also changed to a bowsprit instead of a spinnaker pole and consequently added bigger spinnakers.
Looking back on the week, O’Farrell said, “Our Racing 1 class was pretty small in the end which was a shame. ICAP Leopard broke their boom on the first day and I think Windemere did some damage to one of their bulkheads so it was down to us (and the Rogers 46, Yeoman XXXII). But it’s been good fun. I think it was quite close on the handicap so we’ve still been racing hard out there.
“We’ve had a good year,” he concluded. “We won every race this week and have really enjoyed being over here. Hopefully well be back next year. But for now, it’s so nice to home on a high.”
As with the Racing 1 class, the Racing 4 division also sailed a pair of windward/leeward contests today—their seventh and eighth of the series—in the waters off Falmouth Harbour. Early in the week, Jamie Dobbs’s J/122, Lost Horizon, appeared to have a lock on the class title. But when Lost Horizon suffered a broken boom midway through the week, Dig Van der Slikke’s Grand Soleil 43, Curacao Marine, leapt at the opportunity, and by virtue of a first and third today, earned the prize as top boat in Racing 4. And on the final race of the week, Calvin Reed and John Linton’s winning effort aboard their Beneteau 40.7, Elandra, enable them to leap over Rick Wesslund’s J/122, El Ocaso, to finish second in class. El Ocaso, with a disappointing seventh on the last race, still held on to third place for the regatta.
Among the several innovations for Antigua Sailing Week this year was the addition of a new big-boat “regatta-within-a-regatta,” the Antigua Ocean Series, and the expertise of a new race-management team, the U.K.-based GWM Racing Ltd., headed by principal race officers John Grandy and Peter Wykeham-Martin, with assistant race officer Emma Bourne, who handled the Division A and B race circles, respectively.
“The team at GWM Racing (www.gwmracing.com), along with our dedicated volunteers on and off the water, did a sensational job,” said race chairman Neil Forrester. “The fresh winds everyday presented challenging conditions for the sailors and the race officers. The racing went off without a hitch, which is a credit to the professional approach to the competition from GWM Racing.”
The Division B fleets on Thursday sailed a 19-nautical mile race from Jolly Harbour to Falmouth Harbour. In Performance Cruiser 1, the crew aboard Clive Llewellyn and Alec Schwed’s Grand Soleil 50, Mad IV, capped off a sensational week of sailing for a runaway class victory. In Performance Cruiser 2, Hong Kong-based sailor Nick Burns and much of his usual crew aboard the Mills 51, Mandrake—who are also keen Etchells sailors at the Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club—closed out a spectacular week with their eighth straight victory aboard their chartered Swan 44, Crescendo. And in Performance Cruiser 3, Geoffrey Pidduck’s 6-Meter, Biwi Magic, completed a stirring comeback after a sluggish start to the proceedings to win the very competitive 10-boat class.
In Cruising 2, Antiguan sailor Hugh Bailey and his island crew finished a strong week aboard the First 456, Hugo B, to top the 15-boat fleet in a runaway victory. The overall winner in Cruising 2 was Dr. Ulrich Rohde aboard the Swan 53, Dragon Fly Plus, which also edged out Hugo B to earn the Cruising Overall title. Poul Richard Hoj Jensen capped a perfect week—six wins in six starts—to capture in the International Dragon class in highly convincing fashion. Cover Shot, Roger Webb’s Seawind 100XL, was the winner in Cruising Multihulls.
On Wednesday, the Bareboat winners were the Dufour 455, KH+P Sea You Later in Bareboat 1; the Moorings 515, Nifty, in Bareboat 2; the Sunsail 473, Rossi, in Bareboat 3; and the Dufour 40, Fantasque, in Bareboat 4.
For complete information, news, photographs, video, entry lists and much more, visit the Antigua Sailing Week website at www.sailingweek.com.