GUADELOUPE TO ANTIGUA RACE
26 Apr, 2008
Light winds put damper on record chances at Guadeloupe to Antigua Race
Light winds yesterday morning for the start Antigua Sailing Week feeder race from Guadeloupe to Antigua put paid to any chance of breaking the outright course record. As the 18-strong fleet jostled for positions at the start at Deshaies Bay there was barely 8kts of winds and the visibility was poor.
Mike Slade and his seasoned crew aboard 100ft Farr-designed canting keel flyer – ICAP Leopard – were the unofficial hot favourites for this a 42-mile sprint. But a north-easterly breeze reaching no more than 11kts throughout the day, left the mighty ICAP Leopard having to settle for third across the line and second place overall on corrected time, more than an hour behind the record 2 hours, 18 minutes, 42 seconds, set in 2004 by Bob Miller’s 140ft Briand-designed schooner Mari-Cha IV.
The stars of the show, therefore, in this Stanford Antigua Sailing Week opener, were the giant multihulls Franck-Yves Escoffier’s ORMA 50 Crepes Whaou! winner of the 2006 Route du Rhum and the recent Jacques Vabre Transat and Claude Thelier’s 60ft trimaran Region Guadeloupe. Crepes Whaou! took the overall win on corrected time but Region Guadeloupe won the prize for line honours with a time of 3 hours, 4 minutes and 48 seconds.
On the startline it was interesting to see possibly one of the most varied fleets ever assembled for this race ranging from ICAP Leopard, the big trimarans, a 35m schooner Ashanti, through to bareboat charter boats. Not surprisingly, first off the blocks in these testing conditions was the big, fast trimaran Region Guadeloupe who managed to retain her lead to the English Harbour finish line. A further 10 minutes astern was Crepes Whaou. ICAP Leopard gave the big trimarans a good run for their money but in the light, conditions lost out in the final stages of the race.
Mike Slade owner of ICAP Leopard commenting at the finish said: “It was fabulous because they made us very welcome in Guadeloupe. It’s a beautiful place. But it was interesting because there was no real breeze, usually there’s fairly strong winds for this one. We held the trimarans for most of the race which surprised me enormously. We had a crack at the record but no chance in the 4-10kts max breeze. I was thrilled with how well we did and the when we got close to Antigua – two to three minutes from the finish line – we had a bit of an operational error on dropping the A2 big kite, so we stopped for a while, had a rest and sorted it out, then bowled over the line. We learnt a lesson today – how to take down the big kite, so hopefully we might not get it wrong again this week!
Neil Forrester – Chairman of Stanford Antigua Sailing Week – who joined the ICAP Leopard team for the race said despite the light air it was a great experience. “It was relatively slow because the winds didn’t really ever exceed 10kts and it was disappointing not to have really seen ICAP Leopard’s full potential, but we had a great race at the front with the multihulls and we were joined for a while during the race, by a fairly large whale which was an incredible sight.”
Claude Thelier, local sailor from Guadeloupe and super-hot Hobie Cat champion, chatting about his overall race win said: “Actually for us the wind at the start was good us for an attempt at the record but in the middle of the race the wind dropped to 5kts so that was that. We were very pleased with our performance though and we are looking forward to an exciting week of racing.”
Later today on the eve of the start of Stanford Antigua Sailing Week representatives from the 185 competing yachts will assemble in Falmouth Harbour for the skippers’ briefing. Racing starts at 0900 on Sunday morning with the first leg of the Yachting World Round the Island Race for Division A yachts, and the Fort James Race – a 23-mile race round the west side of the island – for Division B yachts.
For more information including a list of entries, results and daily news stories, visit the Stanford Antigua Sailing Week website at www.sailingweek.com.
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