THE SHOW WILL GO ON!
26 Mar, 2009
Nelson’s Dockyard, Antigua (March 26) – The 42nd running of Antigua Sailing Week is drawing near, and changes are afoot. A new race-management team, UK-based GWM Racing Ltd., has been installed, and a new format will add spice to the competition.
With former title sponsor, Stanford International Bank, now in receivership, another change is in the offing. But as event chairman, Neil Forrester, says, the regatta remains a going, vital concern, and the 2009 edition is shaping up as another unforgettable contest.
“The racing will in no way be compromised and we’re working hard to ensure that Antigua Sailing Week will be as enjoyable and as memorable as years gone by,” said Forrester, noting that Corum Watches have stepped in as a Gold Level sponsor, a partnership that will help offset costs and expenses. “We may be missing some of the frills this year but we’ll still be providing the thrills!”
The new format will help bolster those thrills. The 2009 running of Antigua Sailing Week will sail begin a day earlier for the racing and cruising fleets, on Saturday April 25th, forgoing the traditional Sunday start. With that, six full days of competition for the racing fleets will culminate on Thursday, April 30th. The Bareboat fleet will start their regatta on Sunday and finish on Friday. Both divisions will race 6 days rather than the previous 5 days.
“This is a pivotal year for ASW as we are introducing a new format and also the Antigua Ocean Series,” said Forrester. “We’re introducing a new vision for the event for the coming years.”
The Antigua Ocean Series will be “a regatta within the regatta,” said Forrester. Along with the short inshore races that are always a highlight of the event, three distance races—the traditional Round the Island Race for the Yachting World Trophy (again a one-day event, rather than a two-day cumulative race), the re-introduced Round Redonda Island Race sponsored by Corum Watches, and the prologue Guadeloupe to Antigua Race on April 24th—will comprise the new Ocean Series.
Among the early entrants for Antigua Sailing Week is Charles Dunstone’s Transpac 52, Rio, which will compete with a largely professional crew, including many members of England’s Team Origin America’s Cup squad. Along with those sailing “rock stars,” Rio’s crew will also include a genuine rock and roll celebrity, former Duran Duran lead singer, and Whitbread Round-the-World Race veteran, Simon Le Bon.
Rio, a Judel/Vrolijk design built by the renowned Green Marine boatyard in Lymington, U.K., was originally called Stay Calm. Since her purchase by Dunstone a year ago, Rio has been overhauled for IRC competition and has recorded second-place finishes in both Skandia Race Week and in the recently completed Acura Miami Grand Prix.
“We had lots of work done to optimize the boat for IRC,” said Rio’s captain, Richy O’Farrell. “We added a bowsprit, changed the internal ballast, added a bigger keel and did lots of work on the sail inventory. We spent a few months playing with all that and are pretty happy now to be in the trim we want to be in.
“Everybody’s pretty psyched up for Antigua Sailing Week,” added O’Farrell. “We’re sort of hoping for big breeze and big waves, just a blow-out regatta, really. We’re all pretty excited and can’t wait…that’s the general outlook from the team.”
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