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Hans Lammers – Sailing in Sunshine

There are not many classic yachts with outright wins in both the Antigua Classic and Sailing Week Regattas, but Sunshine literally outshone her rivals in her class in both events in 2007. Owner and skipper Hans Lammers has been highly successful over the years in various Caribbean regattas; last year was the ultimate achievement.

Sunshine is a 41 ft classic sloop, built in 1958 by Aero Marine in Sausalito, California. Designed by Philip Rhodes, this Bounty II was the first large production fiberglass sailboat ever built. Originally known as Fifties Girl, she was owned by Warren Stryker for 32 years, who lived aboard her for 22 of these. He sailed her to the Virgin Islands 27 years ago, where she became a popular sight in St. Thomas.  

In late 2005, she caught the eye of Hans Lammers and Stryker’s sights were then concentrated on his Hunter 54 Botox Barbie, which won the 2006 St. Barths New Year’s Eve Round-the-Island-Race. Lammers sailed Fifties Girl to her new home in Antigua and re-named her Sunshine, the second member of his family to be fondly named as such.

Lammers has a knack for finding successful competitive boats and Sunshine’s classic lines and versatility appealed to him. Stryker had lived aboard comfortably and Lammers decided to do the same for a short time, whilst satisfying his fiercely competitive spirit by successfully entering her in the Heineken Regatta in St. Maarten and the Antigua Classic Yacht Regatta and Antigua Sailing Week for two years running.  In 2006, Sunshine won 1st in her class in the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta, 1st in class in Antigua Classic Yacht Regatta and 2nd in class in Antigua Sailing Week, among numerous other awards.

In April 2007 Sunshine swept the board in Antigua, winning not only her own cruising class in Antigua Sailing Week, but beating every boat in the B Division.  She thus also achieved the Best Caribbean Boat, Best Antiguan Boat, Best Classic, etc. (a total of 7 trophies).  In the Antigua Classic Yacht Regatta, she won her class and achieved the 2nd best corrected time overall, giving her remarkable results in all three regattas for two years running – not bad for a 50-year old long-keel sailboat!

Lammers’ love of sailing in the Caribbean began in 1976, when he crossed the Atlantic on a German yawl.  His first boat was the 30 ft Corsair, built in the Grenadines. She was so low to the water, she would be swamped when sailing downwind and Lammers ended up in Antigua instead of St. Maarten, his original destination.

He settled in Antigua permanently in 1979 with Circe, a 57 ft Herreshoff Tioga II. He then acquired Morva, a 56 ft Alfred Milne classic which he bought in a bar in English Harbour called the Red Snapper – now better known as Abracadabra. Morva was eventually exchanged boat for boat for the 1910 Herreshoff schooner Queen Mab.  Lammers changed her name back to the original Vagrant.  Vagrant was dismasted in 1984 and was subsequently bought and restored by Peter de Savary, and became the mother ship for the Americas Cup Victory Challenge.

Lammers moved ashore in Antigua in 1985, having bought the Camper and Nicholson 55 Rumours, with which he later started a charter business.  He managed Sun Yacht Charters at Crabbs Marina for a time, chartered the catamaran Wizard out of Pineapple Beach Resort and managed the marine department at Jumby Bay Resort before taking a five-year lease jointly with fellow-sailor Geoffrey Pidduck on the new Jolly Harbour Marina. He and Pidduck set up and developed this into a successful business from scratch, so when the lease came up for renewal, Dr. Erhart, then-owner of Jolly Harbour, took it back in order to operate the thriving marina himself.

 After a couple other minor ventures, Lammers went back to the sea on board a private sailing yacht that he and his wife Kathy captained for the next six years. However, this did not stop the two from racing in various Caribbean regattas whenever they could—in fact, it is quite possible that Lammers has won the most class wins in the various boats he has sailed since Antigua Sailing Week started!  He won on Coqui, a New York 10 m, Morva, Rumours, twice on Stargazer, Budget Nautique (also a winner in the Heineken Regatta in 2000, including the Cruising Division overall), on the 6 m Trouble and then on Sunshine last year.

This year Sunshine is participating in the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta, the Antigua Classic Yacht Regatta and Sailing Week—very likely for the last time.  

Surprised at this note of finality, I asked Lammers why. He admitted to having a yearning for something bigger, perhaps over 50 ft, with spacious cabins so that he can both live aboard and charter comfortably. So Sunshinemay well be up for grabs for some lucky buyer in the near future! Any offers? 

However, I am sure this does not mean the end of racing for Lammers. His blood is distilled with the racing spirit and he will surely turn up in Caribbean regattas in the seasons to come.

Biologist and former Eurocrat Gilly Gobinet took up permanent residence on Antigua in the Caribbean in 1984. She has been painting and writing—and sailing—ever since.  Her work can be seen at originalcaribbeanart.com

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