Monday, April 18, 2016

Antigua Classic Regatta

We watched from our dinghies!
I've been told this is “sailing heaven” for yachties! Held every year in April, it’s a gathering of amazing racing yachts either actual old classics or modern “spirit of tradition” classics. These aren’t all large yachts nor do they have to be older, though there are plenty of those, but they MUST all be full keeled, heavy displacement vessels built with quality materials and the type of construction used in boats built during the heyday of sailing vessels. The varnish shines, the sails are pristine and they show there stuff during 4 days of racing off of Falmouth and English Harbor in Antigua.

All together - one mo time
We came to see the races and meet old and new cruising friends. Besides the racing there is plenty of partying going on. Every evening there are post race parties where the rum flows and the bands play. We found all of our "Grenada 8" friends ( Joanna & Billy on Baidarka, Fred and Jo on Caribbean Dream, Rita and Harvey aka "the Brits" on Almacantor), also Maureen and Bill on Kalunamoo, Willie and Mark on Liahona and Jane & Dave who sailed with us last year and chartered for a month this year to meet us here. It’s been wonderful on so many fronts.

Hand made on Carriacou
A highlight was the Sunday parade of Classics into English Harbor followed later that evening by an outdoor premier showing of “Vanishing Sails”, a movie about the tradition of boat building on Carriacou. Coming from a boat building family and having visited the boats in Carriacou Roy & I found it an emotional voyage. Judging by the reactions of the cruising crowd we were not alone. We watched the struggle to carry on the tradition of wooden boat building on an island we all visit. If you love boats and sailing do yourself a favor and watch the trailer now and get a copy once the DVD comes out.

Just a few of the 40 yachts that raced this year.

Carriacou Sloops at the Starting Line
Carriacou Sloops 42ft traditional hand made wooden sloops that once carried the trade of the Eastern Caribbean from bootlegged rum to cows and goats.

Mary Rose reaching for another win

Mary Rose a true classic built in 1928. She’s was the last schooner designed and built by Nathaniel Herreshoff. She’s 64.5 ft and was completely restored in 2004. She has won her racing class and the Concourse d’Elegance every year since 2011.

Adix built to an Arthur Holgate design in 1984 she and Columbia epitomize the Spirit of Tradition class. Adix is 214ft and the largest vessel in this years races. She’s a 3 masted schooner carrying miles of sails and a wonder to behold.


Be still my heart. Columbia an exact replica of the original Columbia, a 141 ft wooden Gloucester fishing schooner. The original Columbia was built in 1923. She wrecked and sunk during the August 1927 hurricane, killing all 25 hands aboard. The replica was completed in 2014. To read more about her

Island Swift

Island Swift is a “modern classic” and only 35ft. We became friends with the UK family aboard. JoJo, Simon and their 2 teenage sons sailed across “the pond” in 2014 to experience the Caribbean for a couple of years. They may have crossed the finish line last but they were dressed as pirates and playing traditional Irish instruments when they did it.

Pretend you were there-

Here 's 157ft Staysail Ketch Chronos as she approaches the mark from the downwind leg.   That's 75ft Ketch Dragonera with her spinnaker out for the downwind leg of the race she approaches on the inside. Sounded like a horserace!


See Dragonera dropping her spinaker

Dragonera rounds the mark on the inside and sails away - gutsy, amazing, but was it legal?

And there's always time for a beer.