Piet Vroon's Ker 46, Tonnerre de Breskens 3. Photo: Tim Wright/Photoaction.com
By Louay Habib
ST JOHN’S, Antigua -- High drama and fantastic conditions rounded off the 47th edition of Antigua Sailing Week. Going into the last day on Friday, two yachts racing under CSA were undefeated, scoring seven straight bullets: Piet Vroon's Dutch Ker 46, Tonnerre de Breskens 3 and David Cullen's Irish J/109, Pocket Rocket were both vying for the prestigious overall prize, The Lord Nelson Trophy.
Several classes hung in the balance and the outcome of a whole week of racing was to be decided by seconds in CSA 2 & CSA 4. The last day of racing provided the windiest conditions of the week. Gusting up to 20 knots with an agitated sea state, the spray was flying off hulls on the south coast of Antigua and there was a 'Cinderella moment' for one of Antigua's veteran yacht racers.
When the course was announced for CSA 0, Tonnerre de Breskens 3 knew they had it all on, a 22-mile windward leeward eight mile offshore into big waves with a beat finish! The breeze was up and so was the sea state and the bigger yachts, especially TP52, Balearia/Team Varg could plane away downwind, surfing off the Caribbean swell. Balearia/Team Varg hit the turbo button off the wind and screeched downwind away from Tonnerre de Breskens 3. Carlo Vroon, son of Tonnerre owner Piet, explains the outcome:
"We got a good start and managed to keep our time on the other yachts upwind. The crew had to work hard, hiking the boat out and we managed to be seven minutes ahead on corrected time by the top mark. We knew that we would lose out on the run and once again we played the shifts well and stayed in pressure, but our lead had been eroded for the final beat to finish. We won the race by three minutes to finish off a highly rewarding Caribbean season. We have been racing in Florida and the Caribbean since January and our worst result in any race has been second, it has been a memorable season."
Tonnerre de Breskens 3 was the winner of CSA 0. Second overall was TP52, Balearia/Team Varg, which held off a strong challenge from Leo van den Thillart's American Kernan 47, True.
On Friday morning, Pocket Rocket had scored a perfect seven bullets securing CSA 7, but the perfect eight was to elude the team: "It is the first time we have really made any major errors, but we had problems hoisting our spinnaker today. If you had offered me seven first places and a second at the beginning of the week, I would have said - thank you very much! The lads' heads are down but I don't think that is right and I have a couple of bottles of champagne to cheer them up. We have had a fantastic week and congratulations to the organisers for laying on a very enjoyable and well run regatta."
Aage Kristensen's Dufour 40, Frilaens III finished the regatta in style by winning the last race, elevating the Norwegian team to third in class. Reginald Williams' Soverel 42, Legacy was second overall. The team from Trinidad had a consistent week, scoring six podium finishes.
In CSA 2, the battle between Jonty Layfield's Azuree 46, Sleeper and Ross Applebey's Oyster 48, Scarlet Oyster was decided. Sleeper beat Scarlet Oyster on Friday to win the class by two points, but closer analysis reveals that on corrected time, 12 seconds was the slender margin. Andy Middleton's Canadian team racing Global Yacht Racing have scored six podium finishes for the regatta and deserve their third in class.
In CSA 3, Alex Sastre's Argentinean team racing Salona Racing Team won the class on Thursday. However, Jan Oleson's Essex Girl won Friday’s race, delighting the team from Denmark. Richard Wesslund's J/122 El Ocaso and Philippe Falle's Grand Soleil 43, Quokka 8 tied on points for second overall, but El Ocaso were second in class by virtue of one more race win than Quokka 8.
Bernie Evan-Wong's High Tension. Photo: Tim Wright/Photoaction.com
CSA 4 provided the closest finish of the entire regatta. Ian Hope Ross' Melges 32 Kick 'em Jenny 2 took line honours for Race 8, but corrected out to 6th place for the race putting the team from Sint Maarten out of contention for the class title. Next to finish was Bernie Evan-Wong's Mumm 36, High Tension, which stayed in the vicinity of the finish line to see how far back the Cork 1720, Team Sojana was from their transom. About 11 minutes would be enough after time correction for High Tension to win the class. The result was too close to call, but High Tension won the race and the class by just 14 seconds:
"Amazing!" smiled Antigua dentist, Bernie Evan-Wong, when he got the news. "This team has been racing at Caribbean regattas all season and to win the last one on home soil is just fabulous. This morning we thought we might not race at all though. Just before the start, we developed a big problem. Our chainplate was coming loose, fixing the rig to the hull. ABSAR came to our rescue, quite literally! They gave us a lift to shore to get materials to fix the problem and we set off on the race. High Tension would like to say a big thank you to ABSAR!"
In Bareboat 1, Kiev Racing Yacht Club finished off the regatta on a high by winning the last race by 34 seconds. Domas Vysniauskas' Lithuanian team racing Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 44i/Sunsail, Tintamarre, crossed the finish line in a dead heat with Colman Garvey's Irish KH+P Bageal. The Lithuanian team had rather a large number of supporters out on the water and there was a lot of cheering as they crossed the finish line! Colman Garvey's team could also celebrate as the team from Ireland had won the Bareboat 1 Division.
Best Bareboat overall with seven straight bullets was Max Katinov's Russian Dufour 44, Cayenne. Cayenne also won Bareboat 2 with Pieter Crul's Let Me Go in second place and Herbert Muenzel's KH+P Sea You Later in third.
David Cullen's Irish J/109, Pocket Rocket and Beluga, Richard Klabbers' Contest 42CS. Photo: Tim Wright/Photoaction.com