With windy conditions, this year's Antigua Superyacht Cup course needed to take into account not only the weather and sea conditions but the optimal "guest experience," ensuring a bit of excitement, comfortable reaching and a beat up the coast to admire the beautiful scenery off the south coast of Antigua.
"It was a day for the ketches" commented Mike Quilter on Ranger the first day out. "It may be a small fleet but they are all excellent boats, and without the genniker, we just could not keep up; but the boss and guests had a great day out."
Sojana may not have been convinced with Quilter's ketch theory, breaking the mizzen boom they had to complete the course with just the mainsail and jib. Visione, the powerful 45m Baltic that started 25 minutes after Rebecca sailed a clean race and took the lead coming up the final beat to win the first race by over four minutes.
It is an interesting time for superyacht racing as the SYC organizers have been working with the Bucket Regattas to develop a new superyacht racing protocol. With all the talent in town, a meeting was called on Tuesday night to gain valuable input to the first draft of the protocol. All the participating yacht Captains were invited, along with a wide cross-section of top racing skippers and long-time Bucket supporters.
Robbie Doyle and Peter Holmberg, who were sailing on P2, Earl Williams, Alistair Tait and Dan Jackson from Ranger, as well as Jens Christensen from North Sails and Garth Brewer from Visione, aired their views on the protocol. The intention of the protocol is to provide the safest, fairest and most appropriate format for racing superyachts which currently has the audience split between the ISAF racing rules and the amended COLREGS protocol.
The first day ended with crews taking over Nelson's Dockyard, dressed up as Pirates of the Caribbean, for a barbecue on the dock, live music and plenty of Antiguan rum punch.
On day two, January 29, rain and winds up to 30 knots were forecast, causing boats to reef in their mains. Sojana did not start, and Visione held the lead, followed by Rebecca and P2.
On day three, despite the set-back of not being able to hoist any mizzen sails, Sojana managed to hold off the rest of the fleet and win the third and final race of the Superyacht Cup Antigua 2010.
Bucket ratings expert, Jim Teeters worked out Sojana's temporary sloop rating after they suffered a broken mizzen boom on the first day, and gave them a four minute start advantage over second starting boat, Rebecca, and a 29 minute start on Visione.
It was another windy day with plenty of action for these immensely powerful superyachts. Flying full mains and maximum downwind sails, they raced around the 24 mile course in just two and a half hours. The breeze picked up on the final beat to the high 20s and Visione closed the gap on Sojana, finishing just 51 seconds behind her.
An elated Peter Harrison, owner of Sojana, cheered as he crossed the line in first place, a much improved day out for him and his crew. Ranger and P2 had a tight battle all day, crossing tacks several times.
Throughout the three days of racing, the emphasis on sailing safe was high on everyone's mind, and the superyacht racing protocol was put to the test by the experts, without incident or protest.
The event closed with a grand Prize Giving Buffet dinner at the Copper & Lumber Hotel in Nelson's Dockyard. www.thesuperyachtcup.com
1st Visione – 4 points
2nd Sojana – 10 points
3rd Ranger – 10 points
4th P2 – 11 points
5th Rebecca – 11 points
Information submitted by Antigua Superyacht Cup