17 Apr, 2008
Set for Stanford Antigua Sailing Week !
The GUNBOAT Class is back! The unique class of ocean-roaming, globe-girdling cats converged at Stanford Antigua Sailing Week in 2007 and now the GUNBOAT Class is returning in 2008 to make Sailing Week a class tradition. The successes of ASW 2007 lead to the GUNBOAT owners wanting more. Their eagerness to race their all carbon world cruisers lead to the development of a GUNBOAT Class Caribbean Circuit and Antigua Sailing Week marks the final regatta in this Circuit. Now it has come down to five days of racing at Antigua, April 27th-May 3rd, that will determine the overall winner… the TOP GUN of the premier GUNBOAT Class Caribbean Circuit.
The St. Marteen Heineken Regatta in March 2008 kicked off this circuit for six GUNBOATs. Heineken 2008 was only the second GUNBOAT gathering after ASW 2007. While Antigua 2007 cemented the GUNBOAT family as lifelong friends and established the fun of racing, the Heineken Regatta proved that the GUNBOAT owners had applied the learning from Antigua 2007 and stepped up their racing game. Many well known sailors made their way aboard various GUNBOATs for this regatta and the owners added some large downwind sails.
Safari, the prolific GUNBOAT 62 from the notorious WIPE-OUT video, heads to Antigua in the lead. Safari’s owner, Tim Slade, had never raced prior, but proved to be an accomplished helmsman. SAFARI won the GUNBOAT class against many top GUNBOAT teams. According to Tim, “This week was one of the best weeks of my life. It was just magical. Great regatta. The racing was tight, yet the people are so much fun.” While Tim’s life mission has been fun, he has also attracted a top crew for Antigua, and aims for the “Top GUN” overall winner.
Distinguished multihull sailor and America’s Cup Winner, Cam Lewis, will be joining Xabier Ross of Antigua on CREAM, the ever metallic green GUNBOAT 48. Cam comments “I love Antigua and the Gunboat Class. We get to go fast, stay comfortable, and my girlfriend Gretchen can be right there with me. This class is sweeter than fresh buttered lobster in my home state of Maine. The Gunboat owners actively encourage spouses, families and girlfriends to race. This sure beats being wedged between the lifelines of a lead mine with 20 sweaty guys!”
Amongst a class of owners bent on speed, one stands out above the rest. John Kwitek of LICKITY SPLIT 2 simply wants to go faster all of the time. At the 2007 Antigua Sailing Week, John arrived with his Gunboat 48, and managed to win line honors in a race against rival Bruce Slayden on the Gunboat 62 LOOKING FOR ELVIS. This year, John opted for the bigger and quicker LICKITY SPLIT 2, a sistership to ELVIS. LS2 won line honors in every race at the Heineken Regatta in March. John added massive downwind sails to his inventory, and emptied his world cruiser of all extraneous gear. Peter Johnstone notes after Heineken, “Lickety is really fast. It is so fun to sail against an owner as sharp as John Kwitek. He really gets the whole GUNBOAT concept of keeping the boat light and fast. Lickety was really well sailed.” Amercia’s Cup helmsman, Mark Sadler, will be aboard as resident speed merchant and tactician.
Safari, Cream, and Lickety are the clear front runners from the Heineken Regatta. For Gunboat founder, Peter Johnstone, has chartered the recently launched Gunboat 48 BLAST. “This is about the only racing that interests me these days. It’s about the only time I get to share with friends doing something really fun.” Friends aboard will include the UK’s female solo sensation Lia Ditton.
HAMMER will be ably helmed by owner Tom Robinson. Crew includes Bill Biewenga, a four time Whitbread Round Racer and legendary navigator. As HAMMER is one of the highest tech Gunboats ever built, she will be one to watch.
Looking for Elvis, GUNBOAT 62, epitomizes the GUNBOAT class and returns to defend their ASW 2007 Gunboat Class win After losing their huge asymmetric on the second day of Heineken, Elvis heads to Antigua with a full set of sails and both guns blazing. It was owners, Bruce and Nora Slayden, who pushed for the creation of the Gunboat Class.
The gathering at ASW 2007 surprised the owners and GUNBOAT. “We all thought it might be a one-time gathering, but everyone had so much fun, they wanted to come back,” notes Peter Johnstone. Antigua Sailing week is the perfect annual gathering for the GUNBOAT Class. The regatta offers for a relaxed and good natured competition, and allows the Gunboat owners to push their carbon world cruisers with full crew sailing around a beautiful island.
If last year marked the high profile return of multi-hulls to Caribbean’s most renowned regatta, then this year should be remembered as a coming of age for one of sailing’s ascendant brands, GUNBOAT. The question for 2008 is who will be Top GUN…
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