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11 Apr, 2009
Tenacious Tony Bullimore’s 102-foot Catamaran Setting Sail For 2009 Antigua Sailing Week
Nelson’s Dockyard, Antigua – Legendary British yachtsman Tony Bullimore’s long list of offshore adventures and accomplishments is unparalleled. In a career that’s spanned four decades and over 400,000 competitive nautical miles, Bullimore has recorded victories in the Round Britain Race, the Round Europe Race, a pair of Transatlantic contests, and the Rolex Fastnet and Middle Sea Races. Bullimore earned worldwide notice and acclaim after surviving five long days following a capsize in the Southern Ocean in the 1996 Vendee Globe solo race around the planet, and later tackled those same stormy seas while registering a second in the Oryx Quest round-the-world race.
Now, Tony Bullimore is setting sail aboard his well-tested, 102-foot catamaran in yet another world-class yachting event: the 2009 edition of Antigua Sailing Week.
“The boat has been renamed Spirit of Antigua and will be used for charter work while based in Antigua and the south coast of England,” said Bullimore, a former Yachtsman of the Year in the U.K. “Our intention is to give a lot of people the opportunity to sail on one of the fastest racing boats in the world. My top speed is 38 knots and there won’t be any problem attaining speeds over 30 knots in the fabulous waters around Antigua. Spirit of Antigua is obviously a great racing boat, with a great pedigree, but she will also be a great boat for team-building programs, corporate hospitality days, and many other exciting adventures and races.”
Bullimore’s new venture, in collaboration with David Boorman and the recently formed Spirit of Antigua Ltd., will be making its debut at Antigua Sailing Week. “My catamaran is a true legend of the high seas,” said Bullimore. “She’s held so many records, and won so many races, and is still going strong.”
Prior to his upcoming participation at Antigua Sailing Week, Bullimore’s most recent challenge was a quest to topple Ellen MacArthur’s singlehanded non-stop round-the-world record, a voyage that began in the Australian island state of Tasmania. It started auspiciously. “When I went across the starting line, I was doing around 16 knots,” he said. “I did just under 1,000 miles in just under 48 hours, the kind of speeds needed to break the record.”
However, Bullimore was ultimately forced to call in at Auckland, New Zealand, after halyard failures to his staysail and genoa. Once there, he had a difficult decision: to effect repairs or to abandon the attempt. “I had so many people who wanted to help,” he said. “Getting the boat sorted out was not a problem. But we were now into winter in the Southern Hemisphere and that’s the wrong time to start sailing a 100-foot-plus catamaran alone. The sea conditions can be horrendous, but worse still can be the extreme freezing conditions which build up in that part of the world.”
Bullimore, of course, is a survivor, and he opted to make the seamanlike decision to exercise discretion over valor and call it a day. “So I decided to sail the boat across the Pacific, go through the Panama Canal, into the Caribbean and on to Antigua,” he said. “This was a wonderful passage, a far cry from the Southern Ocean.”
Now, Bullimore is excited to begin a new chapter in his ongoing saga, with his appearance at Antigua Sailing Week. His new venture is aimed not only as a vehicle to promote Spirit of Antigua as a charter boat, but also to raise awareness for the beautiful Caribbean island’s endless attractions, beaches and waters.
“We are delighted to be teaming up with Tony Bullimore to sail Spirit of Antigua at this year’s Antigua Sailing Week,” said Boorman, the director of the new enterprise. “We are sure that, with Spirit of Antigua’s help, we can spread the word that Antigua is the most beautiful sailing and holiday destination in the world.”
“Roaring along at 30 knots in the Southern Ocean can be very exciting sailing,” said Bullimore, “but to attend Antigua Sailing Week will be tremendous fun.” For more information about Spirit of Antigua, visit www.spiritofantigua.co.uk.
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