The first name to be engraved on the fine Italian silver Inn Challenge Trophy is Carlo Falcone’s Mariella. The legendary 79ft ketch successfully defended the Mariella Challenge in the match race with Robert Fabre’s 42ft Ketch, Vagabundo II. At nearly twice the length of Vagabundo II, Mariella was given a handicap of over 10 minutes an hour to her smaller rival.
The final race of The Mariella Challenge for The Inn Challenge Trophy started in Rendezvous Bay with 15 knots of easterly breeze on Thursday 18th April. Vagabundo II judged the start to perfection and headed inshore to seek an advantage, but was soon overhauled by Mariella. The first beat up to English Harbour went well for Vagabundo II, but the smaller ketch could not keep up with Mariella and at English Harbour mark, Vagabundo II was eight minutes behind Mariella.
However, Vagabundo II, looking splendid after her refit at Antigua Slipway, managed to hoist a spinnaker for the first reaching leg and also the second to keep the team in with a chance of beating Mariella on corrected time. The Vagabundo II crew should be applauded for excellent boat handling.
As the match race was coming to a conclusion, a squall darkened the horizon, just as Mariella was approaching the finish, the blustery shower caused Mariella to double tack, adding precious minutes to their finish time. Vagabundo II had benefited from using a squall in the Challenger Race, the previous day, but as Vagabundo II came onto the wind for the last leg, the squall had passed and behind it there was little wind.
Mariella made her time and won by just a few minutes after time correction.
After racing, a Prize Giving was held on The Terrace at The Inn at English Harbour and guest of honour, Hon. John Maginley, Minister of Tourism for Antigua & Barbuda opened the proceedings:
“Yachting is a very important to Antigua and I am delighted that The Inn and my good friend Carlo Falcone have come together to organise this new event and we hope that the success of this first event will establish itself as one of the many yachting events in Antigua & Barbuda,” commented the Hon. John Maginley.
Mr & Mrs Addari, owners of The Inn at English Harbour presented Carlo Falcone with The Inn Challenge Trophy and a keepsake for the first edition of the regatta, the exquisite Lalique Victoire figurehead. As runner up in the final, Vagabundo II received a barrel of English Harbour Antigua Rum, courtesy of Premier Beverages, presented by Mauro Pellaschier, the skipper of the 1983 America’s Cup boat Azzurra and also the prize for winning the Challenge Race: a weekend stay at The Inn at English Harbour.
Carlo Falcone accepted the winner’s prize accompanied by his youngest son, Rocco who will be representing Antigua in the Optimist World Championship later this year in Lake Garda, Italy:
“Rocco is the future of sailing in Antigua and I thought it right that he accepts the Trophy for this new event. I hope that next year many more classic yachts will take the Mariella Challenge. Mariella is an Antiguan yacht and it is right that the first defender was from here,” explained Carlo Falcone who then invited all of the competing skippers to join him on the podium.
Fabio Giorgi, The Inn at English Harbour’s General Manager was delighted with the achievement of The Inn Challenge Trophy:
“The race was tough with the challenging weather conditions for this inaugural event. Due to its success we are eager to begin preparations for next year’s Challenge and to make this an important date in the Caribbean sailing calendar. The prize giving ceremony at our Terrace restaurant ensured it was a memorable, elegant and stylish occasion.”
Gianluca ‘Lillo’ Mazzetti, Marketing Manager at The Inn at English Harbour was quick to praise the supporters of the new classic sailing event:
“I would like to thank all of the people who made this event so successful, especially Carlo Falcone for agreeing to The Mariella Challenge, Antigua Yacht Club Marina for excellent race management, Kenny Coombs, Chairman of Antigua Classic Yacht Regatta, the International Jury Pat Bailey and Antigua Slipway. Without their support the event could not have happened. Congratulations to the crew of Mariella and also well done to Vagabundo II for sailing so well in the final. Also to The Blue Peter and Dione for their support and best of luck to them next year! We hope that the next edition will have more classic yachts to take up the Mariella Challenge and enjoy the hospitality of The Inn at English Harbour.”
Elizabeth Jordan, Commodore of Antigua Yacht Club was also delighted that Antigua has another notable event to add to its yachting calendar and looks forward to welcoming sailors to the Inn Challenge Trophy in 2014.
Racing continues in Antigua with the 26th edition of Antigua Classic Yacht Regatta and The Inn at English Harbour would like to wish everybody involved fair sailing and great fun ashore.
For more information about The Inn at English Harbour: www.theinn.ag
Our thanks also to J Rainey/Tropical Studios http://tropicalstudios.com, Premier Beverages http://www.premierbev.biz and Antigua Slipway www.antiguaslipway.com for helping make the event such a success.