THE FLEET ROLLS IN:
23 Apr, 2008
Over 180 Entries Undergoing Final Preparations for
41st Stanford Antigua Sailing Week
Nelson’s Dockyard, Antigua – Over 180 boats of nearly every size and description – ranging in size from the 100-foot canting-keel maxi ICAP Leopard to a dedicated one-design fleet of 29-foot International Dragons, with a little bit of everything in between – make up the provisional entry list for the 41st running of Stanford Antigua Sailing Week. The annual Caribbean festival of top-tier yacht racing and world-class “après sail” parties is now just days away, with competition set to begin on Sunday, April 27th and continuing through May 2nd.
The preliminary scratch sheet for the event divides the fleet into seventeen dedicated classes, with six Grand Prix racing divisions; three classes of Performance Cruisers; three separate categories of multihulls; a cruising class; four divisions of bareboat charter yachts; and the one-design Dragons, fresh from a banner showing at the recently concluded Antigua Classic Yacht Regatta.
The marquee class is Racing I, where Mike Slade’s sensational ICAP Leopard will face the battle-hardened 90-footer Rambler, the former Shockwave now being aggressively campaigned by Connecticut-based sailor George David. But while Leopard and Rambler will be pushing one another hard for first-to-finish bragging rights, on handicap the entire Racing I class must beware of Benny Kelly’s TP 52, Panthera, which won the Most Outstanding Boat award at the recent St. Maarten Heineken Regatta while tearing through the Grand Prix racing fleet with an undefeated series.
Before the Stanford Antigua Sailing Week racing begins, ICAP Leopard will get a final tune-up on Friday’s Guadeloupe to Antigua Race, a 42-mile feeder race to the main event. The crew aboard ICAP Leopard will be hoping for heavy air and a shot at the race record of 2 hours, 18 minutes, 42 seconds, set by the 140-foot Mari-Cha IV in the 2004 event.
In Racing II, a trio of Farr 65s crewed by clients of the British sailing organization Ondeck will hope to topple a pair of well-known and well-sailed Caribbean presences, Peter Harrison’s Farr 115, Sojana, and Clay Deutsch’s Swan 68, Chippewa.
The Swan theme continues to be strong in Racing III, where U.S. sailor Frank Savage, after a hiatus from the sport, has reunited his old crew aboard his Swan 56, Lolita, to race in the waters of past glories. Savage, after all, was the overall winner of Sailing Week in 2003. To win again, Lolita will have to stave off the advances of two Swan 48s, Hank Schmitt’s Avocation and Philip Wright’s Gigi, as well as Dr. Ulrich Rohde’s Swan 53, Dragon Fly Plus. But Savage’s main competition may well come from Richard Matthews’ new 42-footer Oystercatcher XXXVI, which has proven to be a formidable foe throughout the Caribbean this spring.
The same could be said for another boat that made its Caribbean debut in 2008, the 30-foot carbon trimaran True Look, which trucks along at well over 20-knots and was another winner in St. Maarten, in the Multihull Racing class. True Look is entered in the Multihull Racing division in Antigua, as well, where it will hope to repeat its solid record of on-the-water success. The Seacart 30s are designed by Frenchman Marc Lombard and are scaled-down versions of the maxi multis that chase round-the-world records in the Southern Ocean; True Look is ably sailed by the class developer, Swedish sailor and former America’s Cup crewman Calle Hennix.
The largest single class at Stanford Antigua Sailing Week for 2008 is Racing V, with twenty-two entries, and could prove to be a showdown between two very similar designs: the Archambault 40, with five representatives, and the Beneteau 40.7, with seven entrants. These dual-purpose racer/cruisers are ideal for Caribbean racing.
Of course, the racing is only part of the fun at Stanford Antigua Sailing Week. The post-race social events make up the other half of the long-standing equation. Among the parties scheduled for next week are the Fort James Beach Bash, on Sunday; Tuesday’s English Harbour Rum Crew Ball at the Event Village at Nelson’s Dockyard; Wednesday’s famous Sundown Party at Shirley Heights; the Pirates of the Caribbean Party, also at the Event Village, on Friday; and, of course, the Prizegiving Ceremony that wraps up the festivities on Saturday, May 3rd.
Before then, of course, there are a few matters to be sorted out on the water. For the crews in the final throes of preparation, those days are drawing near.
For more information, registration forms, an updated entry list and more, visit the Stanford Antigua Sailing Week website at www.sailingweek.com.
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