10 Apr, 2008
Flocking to the Island: An Impressive Fleet of Swans Fly South for
41st Running of Stanford Antigua Sailing Week
Falmouth Harbour, Antigua – They’re a class unto themselves, a singular brand of ocean-going yachts known for their distinctive looks, rugged construction, and remarkable versatility. Built in Finland to exacting standards, Nautor Swans are a familiar sight the world over at both top-flight regattas and distant, secluded anchorages. Almost by nature, most Swans seem equally at home on offshore adventures or close-quarters racing. Indeed, the Swan 65, Sayula II, won the very first Whitbread Round-the-World Race, in 1974. It was only the first in a very long string of impressive voyages launched by Finnish craftsmanship.
It’s fitting, then, that an impressive fleet of Swans is once again poised to impart a significant presence on Stanford Antigua Sailing Week, the 41st edition of which is set for April 27-May 3. With just over two weeks to go before the action commences in the blue seas of the Caribbean, a solid roster of 16 Swans are among the 122 entrants registered thus far.
The collective Swan fleet is both interesting and eclectic. Representing five different nations, it ranges in size from British sailor Barry Sampson’s brand new Club Swan 42, Long Echo, to his countryman’s well-campaigned Swan 70, Stuart Robinson’s Stay Calm. Robinson, an extremely active competitor known for his success on the racecourse with a TP 52 of the same name, is currently on a roll. With his 70-foot Swan and a veritable platoon of crewmen, Robinson’s fresh from a well-earned victory in his Performance Cruising class at the recent, windy BVI Spring Regatta.
However, Stay Calm is just one of many Swans with the wherewithal to wreak havoc on its competition. The wildcard of them all may be U.S. sailor Frank Savage’s Swan 56, Lolita, which won the Lord Nelson Trophy as the overall winner of Antigua Sailing Week in 2003. Savage, who named his boat after his wife, not the novel, has reunited his crew for a return to Antigua after a brief hiatus from ocean racing. It will be interesting to see if Savage and his team will manage to quickly ramp up to speed and recapture the magic of the 2003 event.
One boat very well aware of Lolita’s potential is Clay Deutsch’s Swan 68, Chippewa; the two stateside entries have enjoyed many a memorable duel. Deutsch, a Pittsburgh native who races out of the British Virgin Islands, returned to yacht racing after a 20-year absence, and did so with a vengeance. Chippewa’s many recent victories include class triumphs at the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta, the Swan Caribbean Cup, and Key West Race Week. Chippewa is also a defending champion at Stanford Antigua Sailing Week, having won its class in 2007. Like Lolita, Chippewa’s tight, cohesive crew – none of whom are professional sailors – will be hoping to revisit past glories in 2008.
On the other hand, Russian sailor Mikhail Mouratov, skipper of the Swan 48, Murka, will be looking to climb up the ladder in this year’s event. In 2007, Murka earned a podium finish in the Racing III division with a third in class (two spots behind Chippewa). But Mouratov and his crew are solid sailors who know their boat extremely well, for Murka is at home both racing around the buoys and crossing the Atlantic Ocean, which it’s done three times in the annual ARC Rally from the Canary Islands to St. Lucia. The Swan 62, Berenice, skippered by Italy’s Marco Rodolfi, is another veteran of the ARC.
Other Swans returning to Antigua this year are the 62s Gienah and Schider, which finished third and fourth, respectively, in their Performance Cruising division in 2007; Sam Fleet’s Swan 601, Aquarius, which may be a sleeper in the Racing line-up; Julian Sincock’s Swan 51, Northern Child of St. Petersburg, which took a strong second last year in the Cruising I division; and Hank Schmidt’s Swan 48, Avocation, chartered to a group of American sailing enthusiasts.
Newcomers to the Antigua fleet include two Swan 65s from Italy, Crueza De Ma and White Knight; Merlin, a ketch-rigged Swan 57 flying a U.S. flag; and the lone Austrian boat among the Swans, the 65-foot Shaitan.
Altogether, the Swans represent one of the strongest annual turnouts at Stanford Antigua Sailing Week. It’s almost time to discover how this year’s flock will fare.
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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