From Russia to Australia, yachts and crew from over 20 nations will be competing at the 49th edition of Antigua Sailing Week. The tropical climate, trade winds and ocean swell combined with the legendary shoreside atmosphere are irresistible to sailors from around the globe. If you want to take part in the Caribbean’s longest running and most famous regatta you still can.
In recent years competing at Antigua Sailing Week has become far easier with the availability of all manner of race charters, offering everything from bareboats to a single berth for individuals to high-tech machines for top racing crew. Antigua Sailing Week is sponsored by Sunsail and demand for its yachts in the bareboat division has once again been a sell out in Antigua. However, Sunsail yachts remain available from neighbouring islands so no one has to miss out on the opportunity to participate with a bareboat option. Sunsail provides everything you need to take line honours in class. All of the boats are under six years old and are set up to be very competitive with a full service regatta package available in order for you and your crew to arrive on island to a boat you know is ready to perform. German based charter broker KH+P yachtcharter has been booking bareboat charters at Antigua Sailing Week for over 25 years. KH+P still has options available for this year including a brand new, very fast Dufour 450.
Aside from the bareboat classes, there are some very exciting race charter options available. In recent years the demand from sailors opting to ‘pay to play’ has created a large group of like-minded people who not only race in class but also race each other. Ross Applebey’s Scarlet Oyster has been chartered by members of the Royal Southern Yacht Club this year, and who better to explain the atmosphere among the race charter boat crowd than last year’s winner of CSA 5 class and best racing charter yacht with eight straight bullets?
“It is the longest run and most well-known of all the Caribbean regattas, and Antigua is a great island to visit with easy flights from UK, Canada and USA,” commented Ross. “The regatta’s new format in recent years works better with most crews staying ashore these days and there is a good social and party scene. There is definitely good banter on and off the water among the race charter boats and if we have a breakdown it is usually one of the other charter boats that comes to the rescue with spare parts!”
Race charter places are still available on other highly-competitive yachts that have been coming to Antigua Sailing Week for a number of years.
Miramar Sailing based in Antigua has places available on a large variety of yachts from Volvo Ocean 70 Green Dragon to Stimson 42 Palpatine and Reflex 38 Sirens Tigress. Also based in Antigua, Ondeck has places available on Farr 65 Spirit of Juno which was third in class last year and has a Beneteau First 40.7 available for a whole boat charter. If you don’t want to race every day, there are also places for people to come and hop on board for just a day or two on a Dehler 39. This can be a great introduction for those looking to try out racing for the first time.
David Ballantyne’s J/133 Jings! is a newcomer to Antigua Sailing Week and is available for charter for the first time. David successfully competed Jings! in the 2015 RORC Offshore Championship, coming fourth in a class of over 100 competing yachts. “Jings! can be raced by a minimum of six people and a maximum of 12, with up to 10 people sleeping on board. We have just reduced the price which includes practice before the regatta and, subject to experience, Jings! can be chartered as a whole boat.”
Andy Middleton and Christian Reynolds have been charter skippers for many seasons in the Caribbean and their two yachts, First 47.7 EH01 and Grand Soleil 43 Quokka are extremely competitive boats. Andy Middleton commented, “We have individual places available on EH01 and Quokka. Also there is an option for a team to take Quokka on its own. Quokka won class at Antigua Sailing Week in 2013 and has won the UK National Championships, RORC Commodores’ Cup and Cork Week. We offer a professional service with highly experienced commercial skippers who can get the most out of the team and the yacht without too much ego! We really care about the customer experience and offer training and coaching to a high level.”
Based in Hamble, UK, Capstan Sailing has been competing at Antigua Sailing Week for years. “We have a few places left on Reflex 38 Intuition. More and more good racing yachts are coming from Europe as well as a great turn out of local boats – now they are the hard ones to compete against! There is now another Reflex 38 here so the race is on! And being a smaller boat it is always great fun beating a First 40 or two! For Antigua Sailing Week, it’s a first come, first served basis on Intuition so we do end up with a tremendous mix of abilities, but generally they all love a good race. This year we have a few Russians, an Italian and two French chaps. All claim to be sailing ninjas so it should be good fun!”
Antigua Sailing Week 2016 kicks off with two stand-alone long distance races that are not part of the regatta series. The Guadeloupe to Antigua Race is on Friday 22nd April and the Round Antigua Race takes place on Saturday 23rd April. Racing at Antigua Sailing Week on the spectacular south coast of Antigua starts on Sunday 24th April and concludes Friday 29th April.
Antigua Sailing Week provides details of charter options available on its official web site at: http://www.sailingweek.com/v4/race-charters/ .
For sailors flying from or through the UK, flights are still available at a preferential rate through Official Transatlantic Airline Sponsor Virgin Atlantic. Regional flight sponsor LIAT, The Caribbean Airline is also offering 25% off listed rates for sailors and friends travelling to Antigua Sailing Week if booked by l1th March 2016 for travel between 12th April and 7th May, 2016. To qualify for reduced fares, click here: http://www.sailingweek.com/v4/liat/.
For more information about Antigua Sailing Week including a comprehensive race schedule and party guide go to: http://www.sailingweek.com/.
Image: Paul Wyeth/pwpictures.com