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Jol Byerley’s Jun 07 Letter from Antigua

The 20th Annual Antigua Classic Yacht Regatta.

On the first day of the Antigua Classic Regatta, it rather looked as if the weather Gods had badly let us down. For there was hardly any wind! Grey skies and a leaden looking sea. What wind there was skulked around out of the south, south west and a few occasional cats paws slowly moved the lucky ones and ignored most. Anyway, just enough breeze eventually came through but the damage to a large degree had been done and these wonderful old classic yachts were split apart like the sausages of a Norfolk butcher on a bad day. The same thing happened again on the second day then suddenly on the morning of the third day of racing it all changed. A magical easterly wind suddenly arrived and settled down to a steady 15 knots. So in the nick of time we had a race on our hands, and how the 62 old ladies loved it!

What a truly wonderful spectacle it presented to all concerned. The big schooners like Skylge and Marionette suddenly lent over and started flinging spray about like a couple of joyful dolphins. But something remarkable seemed to be going on; nearly all of them, as if drilled by a strict ballet master, stayed in line all the way around the course. The fleet couldn’t have been better behaved if they had been in the Guadeloupe channel just for the benefit of the photographers. What a fabulous sight! And so it was, if you can believe, for the fourth race, too.

Now hold in mind that a large percentage of these utterly fabulous boats had come across the Atlantic from Europe or battled down from the United States of America. In fact in the early days of the Classic Regatta it actually seemed that Antigua would only get about two dozen of these old boats, and they most likely would be the older charter yachts! But in recent years the numbers have grown. All round the world people have been searching for classics to rebuild and restore and even magazines have been published just to deal with this avalanche of old, old boats. Now to the delight of the Antiguan organizers the entries are increasing as the years go by.

From the original three J Boats there are now five or six. The crumbling remains of Mr. Williams Fife’s big ketches and schooners are at this moment being rebuilt and we may have many of them here in Antigua next year. Apart from the Mediterranean Classics Weeks, regattas occur in most of the United Kingdom and Europe as well as Australia and New Zealand. And of course the United States of America is once again engaged in building up the numbers of modern old boats. But it doesn’t end there. Can you believe that there were 19 yachts ranging from the beautiful 71 ft canoe-sterned, William Fife-designed Latifa, once the property of R.O.R.C. Commodore Michael Mason, racing in the Antigua’s Classic Single Handed Race, to the 17ft Halsey Hereshoff, Antiguan-built Amber.  Then, of course, there were the remarkably fast Grenadine-built ex-fishing sloops like Genesis, Sweetheart, Summer Wind, and Summer Cloud.  They would probably do well under any rule, anywhere. Apart from being very handsome these wondrous little boats are building up their own crowd of fans and it wouldn’t surprise me if there weren’t several more added to the Antigua fleet.

Finally does anybody really know how old Robin Tattersall is? It seems that I have been racing Robin for most of my life! Now, again he is out there in his little slip of a yacht, always going fast and headed in the right direction. If ever there has been an advertisement for yacht racing it is for this elderly but still boyish-looking doctor who lives in Tortola and still  races like the youngster he is at heart.


Caribbean Big Boats (CSA – 8 Boats)
1. Cuilan
2. Ski 4
3. Long White Cloud

Caribbean Small Boats (CSA – 17 Boats)
1. Sunshine
2. Tiger Maru
3. Diva

Vintage Class A (CSA – 4 Boats)
1. Galatea, M3, Judd Tinius (Captain/Owner)
2. Peter von Seestermuehe, Christopher von Reibnitz (Captain/Owner)
3. See Falke, Dave Buller (Captain)

Vintage Class B (CSA – 6 Boats)
1. Mariella, 464, Carlo Falcone (Captain/Owner)
2. Sumurun, 14, Armin Fischer (Captain)
3. Tomahawk, A26, Richard Bond (Captain/Owner)

Vintage Class C (CSA – 3 Boats)
1. Mariette, Charlie Wroe (Captain)
2. Charm III, Richard West (Captain/Owner)
3. When and If, Casey Fasciano (Captain)

Traditional Class (CSA – 5 Boats)
1. Genesis, Alexis Andrews (Captain/Owner)
2. Sweetheart, C Wong (Captain)
3. Summer Wind, Brian McNally (Captain/Owner)

Classic Class A (CSA – 9 Boats)
1. Wandering Albatross, 638, Christopher Lamond
2. Apsara, Kaj Huld (Captain/Co-Owner)
3. Carina, Jim Donovan (Captain/Owner)

Classic Class B (CSA – 3 Boats)
1. Diva, 28302, Robin Tattersall (Captain/Owner)
2. Tiger Maru, 122, Julien Davies (Captain/Owner)
3. Cerinthe, 272, David Offord (Captain/Owner)

Classic Class C (CSA – 9 Boats)
1. Juno, Scott Dibiaso (Captain)
2. Lions Whelp, Phineas Sprague Jr. (Captain)
3. Kate, Philip Walwyn (Captain/Owner)

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