A RICH, COLORFUL LEGACY: ANOTHER CHAPTER IN THE HISTORY OF ANTIGUA SAILING WEEK
22 Apr, 2007
The overall winner that year, and the next, was the Puerto Rican crew aboard Dr. Caesar Barrios’ Westphal 38, Enzian. Dr. Barrios was returning home after a cruise to Grenada and happened upon the racing quite by accident. “He was passing through Antigua and was dragged into the event,” recalled Antiguan sailing legend Jol Byerly.
“It was probably the best thing that could have happened as word of this friendly little regatta spread through the northern islands,” said Jol. “In fact, the first three years were won by Puerto Rican boats, as Enzian’s success was followed by Dick Doran in Laughing Sally, a Cal 40. Then Bob Thompson of the U.S. Virgin Islands took the overall position in the Rancher 41, I’ll Do. So the first four years were won by the very sportsmen-like gentlemen from the islands to the north.” At that point, it must be noted, Jol had seen enough. He went on to win the 1972 regatta on his 40-footer, Matchless, and the 1973 event aboard the Scampi 30, Sundance.
By 1974, the fleet had grown to 52 entries in four divisions. Among those was television’s famous “Galloping Gourmet,” Graham Kerr, sailing the Ocean 71, Treena. But the boat that grabbed the headlines was the Swan 44, Supercilious, owned by another Englishman, Tony Lawson. With Don “Squeaky” Street at the helm and with an all-star crew including Peter Bowker and Peter Vandersloot, “Super C” put on a sailing clinic in the heavy-air conditions and easily outdistanced her competitors.
In 1975, yet another talented Puerto Rican sailed into the winner’s circle. Tom Hill’s spunky little Cal 30, Titan, was the top vessel in the 60-boat fleet that year. But it was only the first of four Sailing Weeks in which Hill would take top honors, earning first place in 1987 and 1990 on his 43-foot Titan 4, and again in 2005 on his powerful Reichel/Pugh-designed 75-footer, Titan XII.
Like Berrios, Byerly and Hill, there have been several other sailors who’ve managed to overcome the odds and win the week’s overall prize on multiple occasions. Virgin Islands superstar Peter Holmberg’s managed it three times, in 1985, 1986 and 1992. So too has John Thomson and Infinity, doing the deed in 1988, 1989 and 1996. The other three-time winner is software mogul and current America’s Cup campaigner Larry Ellison, who’s Sayonara won back-to-back events in 1997 and 1998, then again in 2000. Two-time Sailing Week champions include John Foster on the J/24 Antidote (1980 and 1981); Jim Kilroy, skipper of the famed maxi Kialoa (1982 and 1983); and Dr. Hasso Plattner on two different yachts called Morning Glory (2001 and 2004).
Of course, it’s not just the winners who make Stanford Antiguan Sailing Week one of the top regattas, year in and year out, on the sailing calendar. It’s the quality of boats and sailors throughout the fleet. This year’s entry list, for the regatta’s 40th running, is nearing 200 boats, adding to the roster of the hundreds of yachts and thousands of sailors who’ve competed in Antigua over the years. And so, with the next edition of Sailing Week just days away, there’s really only one relevant question: Will you be there to make some history of your own?
For more information, registration forms, an updated entry list and more, visit the Stanford Antigua Sailing Week website at www.sailingweek.com.
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