DOG DAY AFTERNOON: IN FICKLE BREEZE, BENNY KELLY’S TP 52 PANTHERA CONSOLIDATES LEAD
02 May, 2008
Jolly Harbour, Antigua (May 1) – Someone forget to tell Benny Kelly’s talented crew aboard the TP52, Panthera, that they weren’t supposed to be the marquee attraction for the 41st running of Stanford Antigua Sailing Week. After all, much of the pre-regatta buzz involved the fleet’s two Grand Prix maxis, the 90-foot Rambler and the 100-foot ICAP Leopard, which were coming to the island to revise their epic “Battle of the Titans” in last summer’s epic Fastnet Race beginning and ending off Cowes, England.
A funny thing is happening, however, on the way to the coronation of either ICAP Leopard or Rambler. And the reason for that surprising course change is the 52-foot Panthera, which is in the midst of a most memorable season of Caribbean sailing. In March, Panthera coasted through an undefeated series at the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta to not only win the big-boat racing class, but to also score the honor of winning the St. Maarten Trophy presented to the boat deemed the Most Worthy Performer Overall.
And that’s because after today’s action, with four days of racing completed and a single day of competition remaining, Panthera is in the driver’s seat in the Racing I class after posting its second victory of the week. Sam Fleet’s Swan 601, Aquarius, remains in the hunt for a podium finish after scoring a second today, as is Rambler after posting a third on Thursday.
It was a challenging day of sailing off Antigua today, with squally skies overhead and minimal breeze rustling the waters. The Division A racing fleet was scheduled to sail a pair of contests, but ultimately finished just a single race once the afternoon’s second contest was abandoned by the race committee soon after the start when the fickle breeze died altogether. Meanwhile, the Division B Performance Cruisers, Cruisers, International Dragons and Bareboats struggled to close the finish line after their lone race of the day, the 21.6 nautical mile course from a start off Falmouth Harbour to a finish off the island’s northwest shore in the annual Jolly Harbour Race.
Back home in the U.K., Kelly and his team find considerable competition from another local TP 52, Stuart Robinson’s Stay Calm. Robinson left his TP52 home this winter, but he’s been actively campaigning his “other” Stay Calm, a Swan 70. Like Kelly, however, Robinson is finding considerable success in Antigua, and that continued today, when Stay Calm registered its third bullet of the regatta to consolidate its lead over Clay Deutsch’s Swan 68, Chippewa, in the Racing II class.
In Racing III, Robert Swann’s quick, handsome Marten 49, Yani, is in the midst of stringing together a fine, consistent series, and Yani followed that trend today by topping out the 12-boat class, matching Stay Calm’s record of three wins in the event. In Racing IV, the Anteros 36, Easy, remained atop the division standings after a second today, just behind winner Remi Givaudan’s Henderson 30, Red Bougs. James Dobbs’s J/122, Lost Horizon, is beginning to run away with the Racing V division, and a win today did nothing to reverse those fortunes.
It’s a different story in Racing VI, however, where three boats – leader Paulista, Phillipe Champion’s J/120; second-place Elandra of Hamble, Calvin Reed’s Beneteau First 40.7; and today’s class winner, third overall Incognito, another First 40.7 owned by Paul McNamara – were separated by just three points after the penultimate day of competition.
The Multihull Racing class was won again today by division leader Calle Hennix on the SeaCart 30, True Look, a boat that’s come on strong as the regatta progressed. The big Gunboat 62, Lickity Split 2, also won today to retain control of the Gunboat catamaran class. So, too, did the S&S 57, Charisma, which is still in charge of the Performance Cruising I fleet.
The Divison B winners on Thursday were as follows: Alliance of Chelsea Harbour, John Brantley’s Sigma 38, in Performance Cruising III; Bellissma, Gianfranco Fini’s Comet 51, in Performance Cruising IV; Sasha Eskov’s Half Moon in the International Dragon one-design class; Blue Whale, Kent Mitchell’s Cape Fear 60, in Cruising I; We Too Are One, the Michel Teerlinck’s Crowther 40 catamaran, in Multihull Cruising; Beluga V, Carsten Jacob’s Sun Odyssey 49, in Bareboat I; Acadia’s Southern Comfort, Burt Keenan’s Beneteau Oceanis 46, in Bareboat II; KH+P Oiseau, Sascha Jaeger’s Dufour 455, in Bareboat III; and KH+P Fantasque, Fredy Geisser’s Dufour 40, in Bareboat IV.
In Friday’s wrap-up of the 41st annual edition of Stanford Antigua Sailing Week, the Division A race committee will send the Racing I, II, III, Performance Cruising I, and Multihull Racing fleets on 26.6 nautical mile Ocean Race, while the remainder of the division will compete over a slightly shorter 22.6 mile course off Antigua’s southern shores. The Division B classes, meanwhile, will sail a 20.2-mile route on the Jolly to Falmouth Race. And the top three Bareboats in each of the four classes will face off in the Gold Fleet for supremacy in the charter boat ranks.
For complete results, photographs and video, on-the-water features and much more, visit the Stanford Antigua Sailing Week website at www.sailingweek.com.
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