Sleeper, Jonty Layfield's Azuree 46. Photo: Tim Wright/Photoaction.com
By Louay Habib
ST JOHN’S, Antigua -- The breeze went up a notch or two for the penultimate day of Antigua Sailing Week, powering up the Caribbean swell to deliver yet more idyllic racing conditions. Assuming there would be just one race on Friday and with the discard kicking in after six races, some of the teams at Antigua Sailing Week will be getting ready to celebrate a class victory.
Alan Edwards was a happy man on Thursday afternoon. His Swan 65 Spirit has an unassailable lead in CSA 1. The classic S&S Swan 65 built in Finland in 1974 was sailed by the King of Sweden and Alan has owned the vintage yacht since 2010. "We have never won a race in Spirit before, let alone a class. We will wait until tomorrow to celebrate, but we are just over the moon with this regatta and we are all having a bundle of fun!"
Piet Vroon's Dutch Ker 46, Tonnerre de Breskens 3 won both of Thursday’s races in CSA 0 to score a clean set of bullets for the regatta with one day to go. However, Leo van den Thillart's American Kernan 47, True pushed the Dutch flyer all the way on Thursday coming second in Race 7 by 38 seconds and Race 8 was even closer. Tonnerre de Breskens 3 corrected out to win the last race of the day by just 2 seconds!
Piet Vroon's team are assured of the class win and the 84 year-old Dutchman was a happy man dockside: "Of course we will still race tomorrow, we have come here to race and why wouldn't you want to with such beautiful conditions. We have been racing at a number of regattas and offshore races in the Caribbean and our worst result in any race has been second, so it has been a very worthwhile exercise."
Joining Tonnerre de Breskens 3 with a perfect scoreline are two other yachts, Irishman David Cullen's J/109, Pocket Rocket and Max Katinov's Russian Dufour 44, Cayenne. Whilst these yachts are assured of their respective class titles, several are undecided and will go to the wire on Friday.
In CSA 2, the battle is between two British yachts, Jonty Layfield's Azuree 46, Sleeper and Ross Applebey's Oyster 48, Scarlet Oyster. Sleeper leads Scarlet Oyster by a single point and the winner of Friday’s race will decide the outcome.
"Scarlet came second last year and the year before, so a win would be nice," said Ross with a large slice of understatement. "The Scarlet crew is all from other Oyster yachts, especially from Proteus. Chris Ballard has chartered the boat and we have plenty of Proteus crew on board as well as other skippers from the Oyster World Rally. Sleeper is a difficult boat to beat and tomorrow the wind is looking a bit fresh, which will probably suit them more than us, but it's all to play for."
CSA 4 is proving especially competitive with two yachts tied for first place on points and a third yacht just a point behind. Cork 1720, Team Sojana with Marc Fitzgerald at the helm had an outstanding day, winning both races to challenge the class leaders. If there is only one race on Friday and Team Sojana win it, then they would win the class. Ian Hope Ross' Melges 32, Kick 'em Jenny 2 placed second and third on Thursday, to draw level on points with Bernie Evan-Wong's Mumm 36, High Tension. John Gifford's Melges 24, AMCON Express is just three points off the lead and could still feature on the podium.
In CSA 6, the class winner will be decided on Friday after two electric races on Thursday. John Cook's Bennetau 50, Tatonka won the first race of the day by just 4 seconds. Tom Wilson's team racing Swan 44, Selene fought back winning the second race of the day. Tatonka hold a two point lead in the series, which means Selene will need to beat Tatonka on Friday and hope two other yachts will do the same. John Cook from South Dakota and owner of Tatonka has never been to Antigua Sailing Week before: "This regatta has been on my bucket list for some time and it is absolutely fantastic. The team are all family and friends and we have been having excellent racing with Selene on the water and the fun ashore has been just perfect. Many congratulations to the organisers for a superb regatta."