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Antigua-Bermuda Race welcomes schooner Eleonora
Published on March 22, 2017 Email To Friend    Print Version

Eleonora, the magnificent schooner at the start of the RORC Caribbean 600 in Antigua © Tim Wright/

By Louay Habib

ST JOHN’S, Antigua -- The Antigua to Bermuda Race starting on Friday 12th May is proving highly popular with a huge variety of competitors eager to take on the challenge of a true ocean race to Bermuda; the home of the 35th America's Cup.

Majesty and grandeur

The fascinating array of yachts, as rich in history as the America's Cup, has been boosted by the addition of the magnificent 162ft schooner, Eleonora, an exact replica of the 1910 Herreshoff-designed Westward, one of the most famous and best known racing schooners in the world.

Eleonora's owner is looking forward to competing in the race to Bermuda: "This is a unique and challenging offshore race ending in the venue for the most prestigious sailing event in the world. For a sailor, this is simply the best way to get from Antigua to Bermuda to join the America's Cup events."

"It is also a great way to deliver the yacht from Antigua where she has spent the winter season cruising and racing," continued the owner. "Offshore cruising and racing can be quite rewarding and spectacular. Sailing on a reach in good breeze in a calm sea, down the moonbeam of a bright full moon is an unforgettable, once-in-a-lifetime experience. We have a great crew who help us to also deal with the challenges of offshore sailing and who also share with us those spectacular moments."

"Eleonora's journey from the Caribbean to the US east coast is similar to the trek made by hundreds of yacht owners every year – often twice a year," explained Pat Phillip-Fairn, chief product and experiences development officer at Bermuda Tourism Authority. "We hope among the legacy benefits of the Antigua to Bermuda Race and the America's Cup, is that more yachts and superyachts stop off in Bermuda for adventures here during their journey. That includes the year-round thrill of racing on Bermuda's Great Sound, just like the world's elite sailors. We're looking forward to welcoming all the Antigua to Bermuda participants in May."

Eleonora shows astonishing beauty under sail, her slender hull cutting a pathway through the sea. An elegant combination of beauty and power. © ELWJ Photography

Spectators will enjoy the spectacular start from the iconic Pillars of Hercules outside Nelson's Dockyard, Antigua and the sight of the majestic racing schooner, Eleonora who will be joined in the CSA Classic class by the 87ft Tall Ship, Spirit of Bermuda, a replica of a 19th century Bermuda Dispatch Sloop and a national icon that symbolizes Bermuda's maritime Heritage.

The yachts will enjoy a windward start along the spectacular south coast, before cracking sheets and hoisting spinnakers for a downwind blast into the Atlantic Ocean. Ocean currents and local weather effects will keep the tacticians on their toes for the 900-mile race and the magical island of Bermuda will deliver a fantastic welcome for the competitors on yachts from eight different countries.

Fascinating duels

Nancy and Simon De Pietro's CNB 76, Lilla © Tim Wright/

American Swan 90, Freya and British Swan 82, Stay Calm should have a close battle during the race, as will the two CNB 76s; the Irish flagged Lilla owned by Nancy and Simon De Pietro and the American flagged Sapphire, owned by John O'Connor.

"It should be a really interesting race and it will be fun to race against another CNB 76," explained Simon De Pietro, co-owner of Lilla. "I don't know too much about Sapphire except that she is a much newer boat and made from composite, so she should be lighter than Lilla and from what I can gather, will go to windward better than us. However, the normal weather pattern would give us plenty of reaching and that will make it a race for drivers. Sail selection, especially at night will also be a big factor. We look forward to racing against Sapphire, as well as everybody in the race."

Among the many 60ft yachts taking part is likely to be a interesting contest between two equally matched Canadian yachts; from Nova Scotia, Chris Stanmore Major's Whitbread 60, Challenger (Spartan Ocean racing) and from Quebec, Maxime Grimard's Volvo 60, Esprit de Corps IV.

40ft Pogo battle

Mikael Ryking's Swedish Pogo40, Talanta © Tim Wright/

Two of the smallest yachts competing will most certainly be locked in a close battle on the water: Morgen Watson's Canadian yacht Hermes and Mikael Ryking's Swedish entry, Talanta, are both Pogo40s.

"This will be the first time I have been to Bermuda and I am really excited by the race," said Talanta's Mikael Ryking. "We will be a crew of five and although we will be one of the smaller boats, if we have good conditions, we will have a fast ride to Bermuda. In 20 knots of wind on a reach, Talanta will be surfing at 15 knots, so we can manage 250 miles a day. We estimate that we can complete the race in about four days and we should be as fast as the 60 footers in the race. I hope to stay in Bermuda for the America's Cup and I will be cheering for the Artemis Team of course!"

The Antigua Bermuda Race is open to yachts and multihulls with a minimum length of 40ft (12m) holding a valid IRC,CSA, PCS MultiRule or Superyacht ORCsy rating. Dual scoring will be provided and a provision of a Motor Sailing Handicap will be overlaid for CSA Racers.
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