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Local Sailors Excel at Budget Marine Valentine’s Regatta

The 16th Annual Budget Marine Valentine’s Regatta, held the weekend of February 16 and 17, saw 20 boats racing in four classes in perfect weather on the outskirts of Five Islands Harbour located next to Jolly Harbour Antigua. Jolly Harbour Yacht Club once again hosted the event, sponsored for the 16th year by Budget Marine Caribbean Chandleries.

The most competitive class was clearly the Cruiser Racer Class in which very close and mixed results produced an unlikely winner for those who believe that races are won by equipment and not by sailing skills. The 10-boat class included many modern designs with carbon sails, carbon masts and the newest equipment.

But the class winner was a long keel boat with an aluminum mast and sails past sell-by date made by a sail maker who is not well known. The class and overall win of the Rhodes Bounty 41 foot (27 foot waterline) Sunshine can only be credited to the skill of the crew.  Skipper Hans Lammers repeated previous wins and was able to put his vintage boat into groups that would be hardly considered likely to many. Second in this class was Rick Gormley, sailing his Beneteau 38, the modest sailor from Jolly Harbour with only a few years of racing under his belt who was two points shy of the win.

If the results of this regatta bear universal truth, it would suggest that you can win regattas with only a few years of training whilst sailing an old boat with cheap sails. You could also conclude that you have to be very, very lucky, but that approach holds little water over six races. A great depth of talent in this class had to be content with lower positions although having often been in high positions in individual races. The consistency of Lammers carried the day.

In the Racing One class, a ding dong battle was sailed between the two Swan 56s. The crews represented the talent of Antigua (Stan Pearson/Neil Forrester) and the talent of Guadeloupe (John Burnie). The local crowd was delighted by the Antigua win, with racing that was constantly close and never lacked excitement.

In the Racing Two class, Likkle Hugo (1720) won over Bernie Wong (Mumm 30) and Sven Harder (Flying Tiger). In the Cruising class, Colin Jones took the honours over David Milner and Miramar. This fleet was constantly in close combat so that the racing never got dull.

The event was blessed by perfect weather in the usual flat water of the west of the island. Three races were run on each day giving a total of six to count. All races were windward-leeward with an offset buoy. Race officer Stephen Parry from the Solent directed the racing and Will Rudd would have done the protests if there had been any. Brian Turton, Commodore of the Jolly Harbour Yacht Club, led an onshore events team that produced lively parties.

At the prize giving, Sponsor spokesman Robbie Ferron explained how Budget Marine was particularly enthused to sponsor racing which was constantly interesting, challenging, and still easily-manageable for Caribbean sailors.

Report and photos courtesy of Budget Marine Valentine’s Regatta

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