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Jol Byerley’s Mar 05 Letter from Antigua

One way or another I think about 30 yachts took part in the
annual Antigua Yacht Club’s "Round the Island" event on January 22nd
and 23rd. The first leg was from Falmouth Harbour on the south coast
to Jolly Harbour on the west coast having left the island of Antigua to port.
Then for the following day it was from Jolly Harbour back to the finish off
Falmouth Harbour. The course was about 45 miles because each yacht had to go
outside all the reefs and islands.

During the over
night there was the "infamous" Miss Round the Island Contest, which
is fun for the contestants as well as being a lot more fun for the audience!
This was held at the Castaways Bar and Restaurant on Saturday night. When it
all started many years ago, the Miss Round the Island was purely a beauty and
talent contest for the females of the species. But somewhere along the way it
was to go through a monumental change. So now a large proportion of the entries
are Aussies, New Zealanders and Brits – the regular crews, and what you might
call strapping young men. Not that you would know, as they are all made up to
the nines and trying to wear fluffy little blue and pink things that would be
tight on Britney Spears. But it keeps the huge audience in stitches of
laughter.

This year’s winner
for the 7th time was the Olson 30 Lost Horizon 11 sailed with a
minimum of fuss by Jamie Dobbs. She finished on corrected time ahead of Carlo
Falcone at the helm of his still very capable Caccia a la Volpe with a Guadeloupe
yacht, Marina Bas du Fort in third. In the Cruiser Racer division our nautical
dentist Dr Evan Bernie Wong aboard Huey Too, an old Cal 40, went really well to
snatch first place away from Tony Maidment’s Tango Mike, a Dehler 34, which for
this race was called Budget Marine. These two were only just ahead of a visitor
from Guadeloupe. This was the Nouf Nouf which was going great guns until she
willingly stood by Geoffrey Pidduck’s converted 6-Metre Trouble which suddenly
lost her rudder and was in danger of sinking. Nouf Nouf was given a two-hour
redress by the Committee and it turned out that she beat her closest
competitor, the Beneteau 435 Hugo by 4 seconds after the redress was applied.
Naturally, we applaud the sportsmanship displayed by Nouf Nouf even if it means
that one of our all time favourites, in this case captain Hugh Bailey, was
beaten by a hair’s breadth.

You may remember
Hugh. As a young man (some years ago!) he captained his big Lowmoor iron
schooner Freelance and a crew of all Antiguan officers and cadets to join in
the Centennial Parade of Sail in New York in 1976. Hugh, his crew and the big
black Freelance became the darling of the event. Anyway, just the other day he
accepted the committee’s decision with exactly the sort of response you would
expect from a seaman of his caliber.

In Cruising Class,
Tim Wall’s old Thistle, a true classic Swan, was first, slightly ahead of
Elethia and the girls on Arc Angel. While the "Live aboard " prize
went to Fenella with Sir Peter Jenkins aboard with friends.

Finally, for the
first time in the history of this event, the Miss Round the Island prize went
to Miss Britney from Guadeloupe. So a French winner. You know it’s really a
pity that yacht racing can’t be like this more often.

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