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Countdown to Antigua Sailing Week 2010

With just four days remaining before the start of 43rd edition of Antigua Sailing Week (24-30 April 2010),
there is still a consistent stream of entries coming in. While numbers
at this stage of countdown are lower than in previous years, there is
no doubt that what the entry list lacks in quantity it makes up in
quality. Some of the biggest names in yacht racing are heading to this
premier regatta, which is rated as one of the best events in the Caribbean.

For many of the crews on the biggest yachts competing such Niklas
Zennstrom’s 72-footer Ran, Ron O’Hanley’s Farr/Cookson 50 Privateer,
Tom Hill’s custom Reichel/Pugh 75 Titan 15, and Austin Fragomen’s JV
TP52 Interlodge, races like next Sunday’s Yachting World Around the
Island Race are regarded as the ultimate in ocean racing. Guaranteed
sparkling crystal clear, turquoise water, coupled with warm trade
winds and plenty of close tactical competition as they head round the
beautiful beach-strewn coastline of Antigua, is the sort of challenge
that sets Antigua Sailing Week apart from other regattas.

Those on the start line next Saturday for the opening race of this
seven-day Caribbean classic will be reassured to learn that Dave
Brennan, the highly respected international race officer, will be
calling the shots as PRO in the Racing Division for the duration of
the week.

Brennan, who is race officer at some of the other major regattas in
the world such as Key West Race Week, Etchells South Atlantic
Championship, the International Rolex Regatta, St Thomas, and who has
also signed up for the next VOR stopover in Miami, said he was
thrilled to be asked to cover ASW. He is bringing his old friend Dick
Neville to run the Cruising Division while he concentrates on the
Racing Division. Commenting on the regatta, Brennan said: “Antigua
Sailing Week is the granddaddy of all the regattas in the Caribbean
with a rich history and tradition.”

Chatting about how he intends to run the racing, Brennan continued: “I
grew up in the old school of yacht racing when race committees didn’t
talk to the sailors and vice versa. The courses and classes were
displayed with signal flags which made the signal boat look like a
Chinese laundry. There was a lot of unnecessary confusion. Today I
work very hard on communicating my intentions to the sailors. We
normally start with a short VHF communication on the various
designated VHF regatta channels at our harbour start before the signal
boat leaves the dock. We let the sailors know what is going to be
expected of them that day, such as that they may be kept ashore if
there is no wind, or the number of expected races for example.

“Once on the water at our designated start areas Dick Neville
[Cruising Division] and I [Racing Division] will share as much
information that we think the competitors may need to know, to help
them make decisions about their racing that day. The basic course
information will also be posted in clear English on dry marker boards
for everyone to see but the ability to share that information on the
VHF radio makes it easier for everyone.”

Back on shore, Antigua’s party scene is also legendary with events
such as the Dickenson Bay beach bash and, this year for the first time
ever, the English Harbour Rum Street Party on the Tuesday night where
competitors and visitors to the island will experience traditional
Antiguan hospitality at its best and a taste of Antigua Carnival.

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. The race organisers have decided to
extend the closing date for entries until Wednesday 21 April, so there
is still plenty of time to enter.

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