It is not often that you can watch world class sailors duking it out within yards of an Antiguan beach party, especially when there is an award winning luxury resort providing superb food and a fantastic atmosphere. Antiguan sunshine with a brisk breeze provided perfect conditions for the 4th Nonsuch Bay RS Elite Challenge; all part of Presidente Lay Day.
Hundreds of competitors, holidaymakers and Antiguans headed down to Pigeon Point Beach where DJ Stiffler got the party underway with a funky mix of pop and smooth reggae. The fabulous Nonsuch Bay Resort Beach BBQ fired up the grills at noon with Executive Sous Chef, Marika Anthony supervising the fresh wahoo, juicy ribs, jerk chicken and shrimp kebabs with tropical salads.
The 4th Nonsuch Bay RS Elite Challenge kicked off at noon with two heats of four teams racing to make the four-boat final. This year’s teams boasted a star-studded collection of sailors from the Olympics, America’s Cup, Volvo Ocean Race and World Match Racing Tour.
Heat one was secured by double Olympian Karl James, featuring an all-Antiguan team from the Antigua Yacht Club of Shawn Malone and Bob Green. Antigua Sailing Week Race Officer, Stuart Childerley has competed in the Finn Class at two Olympics, coming fourth on both occasions and has twice won the Etchells World Championship. Antiguan Olympic hopeful Jules Mitchell and 15-year old Vincent Anfi completed Childerley’s three-man team. Also racing in heat one was Bernie Evan-Wong of Team TAZ – Conviction with two young Antiguans: Olympic hopeful Rhone Kirby and Janield Smith. From Trinidad, Alan Atkins Team with father and son, Peter and Nick Knox also took part in the racing just off the beach, allowing spectators to enjoy a great view of the racing.
Antigua Sailing Week’s Race Reporter, Louay Habib along with Jaime Torres racing on the First 40, Surrogate Child – Arthur provided entertaining live commentary of the races and involved those chilling out on the beach in various games to win a Presidente beer or coveted Nonsuch Bay RS Elite hats and t-shirts!
Heat two was emphatically won by double Olympic Silver medallist and winning skipper of the 2015 Volvo Ocean Race, Ian Walker. Walker was sailing with old friends from the Itchenor Sailing Club (Sussex, UK), Chris Fox and Richard Bullock. Second place for heat two and entry to the final went right to the wire: –
Three teams were level on points: PROtect Tapes, the 2015 Nonsuch Bay RS Elite Challenge winning helm of Pietro Corbucci, sailing with a new crew of Louise Clayton and Andy Lis; Team Zig Zag sailed by UK Open Keel Boat Champion, Ireland’s Laura Dillon with Volvo Ocean Race and World Match Racing Champion, Dave Swete and fellow match racer, Cressida Robson; and Southern Tonnerre – helmed by Volvo Ocean Racer Paul Wilcox with Maxi World Champions, Kevin George and Peter Knight. Team Zig Zag scored the best result in the last race to make the final for the Nonsuch Bay RS Elite Challenge.
The three-race final produced an epic battle between Ian Walker’s Itchenor SC Team and Stuart Childerley’s young Antiguan crew known as Original Drama for the race. Itchenor SC won the two opening encounters harried all the way by Childerley’s team. In the last race, Original Drama finally got the better of Itchenor SC, but Ian Walker’s men came second which was good enough to win the 2016 Nonsuch Bay RS Elite Challenge and an all-inclusive week’s stay for two at the luxury Nonsuch Bay Resort. Team Zig Zag was third and Antigua Yacht Club finished fourth.
There are 15 members of Itchenor SC racing Swan 46, Milanto at Antigua Sailing Week and the team let out a huge roar as the victorious Nonsuch Bay RS Elite Challenge team joined them for lunch at Catherine’s Café Plage. Ian Walker then used a coin in a game of chance to decide which of the team would use the fantastic prize.
“Basically our parents dumped a load of us in Chichester Harbour when we were still in nappies,” laughed Walker. “It has been really special to catch up with old friends and to race with them at Antigua Sailing Week.
On behalf of all the teams taking part, Team Itchenor Sailing Club’s Ian Walker thanked Nonsuch Bay’s Mark Whinney for his hospitality and Antigua Sailing Week’s Chairman of the Regatta Organising Committee, Kathy Lammers and her team for putting on a great event with superb race management.
“It was a fantastic event and I’d like to thank the sponsors and Antigua Sailing Week for making it all happen. It was superb race management and we hopefully will get to come back next year to defend our title!”
Summing up the day’s racing in the 4th Nonsuch Bay RS Elite Challenge, Mark Whinney, Sales and Marketing Director at Nonsuch Bay Resort said: “It was great afternoon with fabulous conditions and the standard of racing was top class with three Olympians and a world match race champion in the final battling it out. It was a fantastic spectacle with gripping action right in front of the beach. I must give special recognition to Stuart Childerley who was sailing with a talented young Antiguan crew as they had never raced together before. To push Ian Walker so hard, sailing with his International 14 crew mate Chris Fox and Richard Bullock was very impressive. We look forward to the 5th Nonsuch Bay RS Elite Challenge next year to coincide with the 50th Antigua Sailing Week.”
After the racing, MC Stiffler hosted the fun and games at the Presidente Lay Day Beach Party. Hundreds of people came down to enjoy the hot BBQs and cold Presidente beer as they watched all the entertainment unfold. Teams competed in the Presidente Tug-of-War and many other ‘get wet’ events with the bikini and beachwear competition as popular as ever and DJ’s Irish and Woodenfoot spun the tunes into the early evening.
Racing at Antigua Sailing Week continues today, Thursday 28th April with the Peters & May Race Day 4, the penultimate day of the regatta.
Teams in the Nonsuch Bay RS Elite Challenge:
- Pietro Corbucci (ITL) – PROtect Tapes – Gold – with Louise Clayton (Sirens) and Andrew Lis (UK)
- Laura Dillon (IRE) – Zig Zag – Pink – with Cressida Robson (CAD) and David Swete (NZ)
- Alan Atkins (Trinidad) – Dingo – White – with Peter Knox (Trini) and Nicholas Knox (Trini)
- Paul Wilcox (ZA) – Southern Tonnerre – Green (combined team of Royal Southern Yacht Club and Tonnerre – Peter Knight (Royal Southern Academy) Kevin “Kevlar” George (Tact on Tonnerre)
- Karl James (ANU) – Antigua Yacht Club – Blue – with Shawn Malone (ANU) and Bob Green (ANU)
- Stuart Childerley (UK) – Original Drama – Red – Jules Mitchell (ANU youth sailor) and Vincent Anfi (ANU youth sailor)
- Bernie Evan-Wong (ANU) – Team TAZ Conviction – Day Glow – Rhone Kirby (ANU youth sailor) and Janield Smith (ANU youth sailor)
- Ian Walker (UK) – Itchenor Sailing Club – Chris Fox (UK) and Richard Bullock (UK) – Olympic medals, Volvo, Int’l 14 sailors.
Full results, videos and pictures at: www.sailingweek.com
Report: Louay Habib
Image © Ted Martin