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IC24 Column: IC24’s Coming to Antigua?

There’s nothing like taking an IC24 out for a sail to entice someone to want to own one – especially if that someone is already a competent and competitive sailor. Such are the thoughts of Antiguan yachtsman, Bernie Evan-Wong.

“I chartered an IC24 at this year’s BVI Spring Regatta, and I have to say, it was a load of fun – extreme excitement,” Evan-Wong says. “Seventeen boats on the start line jostling for position. Mark roundings that were really exciting. One slip up and about six boats passed you. Then, crossing the finish line side by side with six other boats. It really made you concentrate and try to eek every ounce of speed out your boat, with no let up till the finish. Definitely fun and exciting! And, twelve races for the weekend was just about right.”

Evan-Wong, who works by profession as a dentist in Antigua, currently owns and races a Melges 24, Slam, and Cal 40, Huey Too. “I love the speed of the Melges. It feels great to plane past everyone at 18 knots. Our motto is ‘never a dull moment’. It’s really fun upwind and downwind. The Cal 40 is fun too as she has won her fair share of silverware, and it is more fun when you win.”

Evan-Wong is in the process of buying an old J24 and is considering converting it to an IC24 or possibly just restoring it as a J24. “The cost of conversion may be a bit prohibitive,” he says. “Racing in Paradise, in Tortola, tells me it takes 500 hours of labor and the molded deck is $3,000. In Puerto Rico, they tell me the price is $24,000 for a converted boat with used sails.”

Will he actually convert or buy?

“It’s all a matter of finances,” Evan-Wong says. “Since I already own two sailboats and four power boats, I think I had better not spend too much on another boat or my wife will kill me. That’s, of course, when she finds out.”

As far as doing the conversion on Antigua, he comments, “I haven’t really asked around yet, but its looks fairly straightforward to remove the deck of the original boat. There are a lot of skilled shipwrights around here.”

He adds, “I like the concept of one design racing. In the past, other one-designs have been tried in the Caribbean, including Melges 24, J24, Humphries 22 and Henderson 30s, but for one reason or another none have really endured. Hopefully the IC24 will succeed. However, I would comment though that the price tag of $24,000, plus sails, might be a bit inhibiting for some people.”

In Antigua, Evan-Wong adds, “There is potential for one design racing here, as there are several Rhodes 19 boats at the Mill Reef Club, and a lot of Sunfish, and Lasers and some Sport 16 boats.

Fellow Antiguan sailors would likely pick up on IC24 racing, says Evan-Wong. “I would imagine the interest would be there. We have a lot of competitive sailors here, and we send teams to the North sails Cup in St. Maarten and the Zoo Rock Regatta in Guadeloupe, and in the past we have sent teams to Trinidad, St. Lucia and St. Croix for one-design regattas. What I also think is a plus is that any age group can race them, as there is no hiking, so less mobile persons can still sail them as well.”

He adds, “What we need are some corporate sponsors who would purchase the boats in return for advertising. Then, like in the BVI, the boats could be chartered for use.”

In the future, Evan-Wong says he could easily foresee Antigua hosting one-design regattas, such as for IC24s.

“It definitely is the way to go these days to get good participation from most of the Islands. The fact is, everyone these days has such busy schedules that it’s really hard to get a crew together to go anywhere that takes more than a weekend. This makes taking your own boat to distant regattas almost impossible, unless you have the cash to have a professional delivery crew and also be able to fly your crew to the event and back,” he says.

He adds, “Most keen sailors will take off a long weekend from their busy schedules and fly to the event as long as accommodation is available at a reasonable rate, and a boat can be chartered at a reasonable rate.

I personally chartered in Grenada and BVI this year even though I own two race boats. The time just wasn’t there to get my boat to the event and back.”

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