SUE PELLING'S DOCKSIDE STORIES DAY 1
27 Apr, 2008
Sue Pelling with dockside news from Stanford Antigua Sailing Week
Born again Sigma 38
When John Brantley’ Sigma 38 Alliance was severely damaged in Hurricane Ivan in 2004 there seemed little chance of ever seeing her on the race course again but four years on she’s here competing at Stanford Antigua Sailing Week.
Brantley from Florida, and his mainly British Sigma 38 crew including Lesley Brooman – former, first lady commodore of Queen Mary Sailing Club – are racing this 1988 ‘classic’ in Performance Cruiser III class and although there are no other Sigma 38s in the class they are looking forward to some good competition in the 22-strong mixed fleet.
Having completed two ARCs, Alliance had been based in the Caribbean for several years before she was hit by the hurricane. After the second ARC she was taken to Grenada for storage because Brantley was advised that was the most hurricane-free zone. Unfortunately, Hurricane Ivan swept through the island wrecking most things in its path.
Chatting about scenario of events during Hurricane Ivan, Brantley commented: “I was devastated because I’d been told Grenada was supposed to be impervious to hurricanes. Ivan came through and damaged virtually every boat in Grenada including mine and it took me quite a while to get the damage repaired. I lost the rig completely and there was a fair amount of hull damage.”
Brantley had to deliver the yacht from Grenada to Antigua to have the mast stepped and re-rigged, so singlehandly he fired up the engine and made the journey. Brantley continued: “Because Ivan had done so much damage throughout the Caribbean and the US and it meant all the mast makers were incredibly backed up so I actually had to motor her from Grenada to the Slipway here in Antigua. It was slightly concerning because had the engine had failed I would have been in a tricky situation. So I conjured up a device, a gantry, that I could attach my dinghy outboard to and made sure I never got too far from land. Fortunately the engine performed wonderfully and I’m here to tell the tale.”
Elvis appreciation society
The attractive-looking Gunboat 62 Looking for Elvis, moored up on the far pontoons at Falmouth Harbour is becoming a visitors’ attraction for several reasons. One might think it’s the sweet, cuddly Irish Jack Russell pup – Pickles – who skits around the deck in her stylish lifejacket who is drawing the crowds, but no, far from it. Instead it’s Elvis who occasionally make an appearance on deck dressed in full regalia. According to the Bruce and Nora Slayden, the owners, the Elvis theme is even starting to attract hardened Elvis enthusiasts. Apparently there’ve had three ‘real’ Elvis lookalikes on the boat already.
Bruce, who admits to ‘dressing up’ says it just adds to the fun of the whole Elvis theme. “Interestingly, I was never really a hardened Elvis fan at all but having given her the name it seemed only appropriate to going along with it. We even have a good collection of cds on board now.”
The Elvis theme continues on the racecourse too. But fear not the crew are not (as far as we know) all kitted out looking like Elvis kit but their whopping, lurid pink spinnaker has, (yes, you’ve probably guessed it) Elvis splashed all over it.
Looking for Elvis made her debut at Stanford Antigua Sailing Week last year and cleaned up in the Multihull Racing Class. Skipper Travis McGarry, and team are back this year but will race in the separate Gunboat class with the Gunboat 48s.
Big cats leap into action
The success of re-introduction of multihulls to Stanford Antigua Sailing Week last year has had a knock on effect with even more bigger and faster machines on the startline this year. Not only have the organisers decided to grant fleet status to the popular Gunboats there’s a separate Multihull Racing Fleet and a Multihull Cruising fleet.
The biggest surprise for visitors this year however, is the appearance of the two big trimarans – the 50ft trimaran Crepes Whaou (Franck-Yves Escoffier) and Laurent Bourgnon’s two-times Route du Rhum winner, the ORMA 60 trimaran, Region Guadeloupe (ex-Primagaz), sailed here in Antigua by new owner Claude Thelier.
Thelier is a local sailor from the adjacent island of Guadeloupe who is planning to compete in the 2010 Route du Rhum. He racing success stems from Hobie Cat sailing where he took the silver medal at highly the competitive Hobie 16 world championship in 2000. Although he only took over ownership of the boat a fortnight ago, he’s been in constant training on her for some time now including a sprint across the Atlantic which took just 11 days.
The plan this week says Thelier, is to train in a racing environment: “I’ll have a regular core crew but I also want to take out local sailors from Antigua who want to experience fast trimaran sailing. From here on I’ll be based in the Caribbean where I’ll do the whole Caribbean circuit in preparation for the 2010 Route du Rhum.”
Clear vision for Beluga V Sehkraft team
Dr Ludger Hanneken and Matthias Maus racing with a team of ophthalmic surgeons on Beluga V Sehkraft a Sun Odyssey 49 in Bareboat I had a good start to Antigua Sailing Week with a fourth in class.
The team from Germany are representing Sehkraft a company specialising in laser eye surgery which apparently is very popular with professional sailors. According to Dr Ludger Hanneken they carried out corrective surgery on Volvo Ocean Race winner John Kostecki. Hanneken commented: “I first did surgery on Michael Illbruck and he said this makes my vision so much better I’ll have to send you our helmsman John Kostecki because he struggles with his contact lenses and specially made Oakley glasses during the race. We carried out laser surgery on him six months before the race and he’s never looked back.”
With a clear view ahead today Team Sehkraft had a good start and led for 70 per cent of the race. Maus chatting about the racing said: “We were looking good but got stuck in no wind and were overtaken when those closer to the shore got slightly more breeze. Then after 15 minutes we got a really nice breeze and made up all the time we lost. We came in second across the line but had to settle for fourth on corrected time.”
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