GAME ON! RAMBLER AND PANTHERA TOPPLE ICAP LEOPARD IN OPENING FORAY
27 Apr, 2008
Fort James, Antigua (April 27) – In challenging racing conditions beginning with light winds that built steadily throughout the day, a diverse fleet of 185 yachts set sail today in the opening salvos of the 41st edition of Stanford Antigua Sailing Week. The Division A racing fleet competed over a 34.5 nautical mile course on the first leg of the Round-the-Island Race from Falmouth Harbour to a new venue for Race Week at Fort James on the island’s northwest flank. Meanwhile, the Division B racer/cruisers and bareboat charter yachts negotiated a 23.1 nautical mile track in the inaugural Fort James Race.
With a northeast breeze topping off at around 10 knots, clean starts and clear air – not to mention staying inshore to avoid the onset of a foul current on the initial windward leg – paid high dividends in the early going for all 17 classes on the respective starting lines. Among the many subplots for the day was how well Mike Slade’s mighty 100-footer ICAP Leopard would stave off the advances of George David’s 90-foot Rambler and Benny Kelly’s TP52 Panthera in the Grand Prix Racing I class.
ICAP Leopard was impressive indeed, blazing around the course to take line honors among the monohull fleets as the first yacht to finish the point-to-point race. But in the provisional standings on corrected time, ICAP Leopard finished a distant fourth in the seven-boat big boat class, with Rambler leading the pack to win the division, just ahead of Panthera in second. Sam Fleet’s Swan 601, Aquarius, also earned a podium finish on Day 1 with a third in class.
Racing II was also the domain of a maxi-sized racer – Peter Harrison’s majestic 115-foot Bruce Farr-designed ketch, Sojana – but, like ICAP Leopard, she was also victimized by a smaller, well-sailed competitor: Stuart Robinson’s Swan 70, Stay Calm, which corrected out to first in the division. Sojana stayed close in the rankings, notching a second, and was followed by yet another Swan, Clay Deutsch’s 68-foot Chippewa, which took third.
The Swans continued an early, impressive across-the-board performance in Racing III, where Barry Sampson’s Club Swan 42, Long Echo, notched a bullet in the ultra-competitive 12-boat class. But Sampson and his crew can’t rest on their laurels, as Frank Savage’s Lolita – the overall winner of Antigua Sailing Week in 2003 – is hot on their heels after a second in the division in the inaugural day of action.
The Anteros 36, Easy, was another boat drawing first blood quickly, taking top honors in Racing IV, and in doing so equaling the performance of the J/122 Lost Horizon, skippered by James Dobbs, in Racing V.
The multihulls, back for their second consecutive appearance in Antigua after a long hiatus, made the most of the day’s building breeze, which rose into the mid-teens in sporadic squalls as morning gave way to afternoon. Claude Thelier’s 60-foot trimaran, Region Guadaloupe, was the quickest boat in the fleet and first-to-finish overall, but when the smoke cleared the spindly flyer was third in the Multihull Racing fleet, behind winner Franck-Yves Escoff on the 50-foot tri Crepes Whaou!, in first, and skipper Calle Hennix’s SeaCart 30, True Look, in second. In the other division of racing Multihulls, the Gunboat catamaran class, the early leader is today’s winner, John Kwitek, on the 62-foot Lickity Split 2. In Multihull Cruising, top honors went to the 40-foot Crowther-designed cat, We Two Are One.
The one-design International Class is new to Antigua, and to mark the occasion, Olga White on Murka Dragon goes down in the record books as the first skipper to lead home the 8-boat division.
In the dedicated Performance Cruising divisions, the S&S-designed 57-footer, Charisma, was the top boat in Performance Cruising I, while Stephen Carson’s Dehler 33, Hightide, was the winner in Performance Cruising III. Longtime Antiguan campaigner Hugh Bailey was the top performer in Performance Cruising IV aboard his Beneteau 456, Hugo B. Still another Beneteau, Pat Nolan’s Oceanis 44, Seabiscuit, stood atop the 15-boat Cruising I division after an opening day victory.
Last but far from least were the quartet of Bareboat charter divisions, with four respective winners: David Abromowitz’s 51-foot Beneteau Cyclades, Lubi, in Bareboat I; Burt Keenan’s 46-foot Beneteau Oceanis, Arcadia’s Southern Comfort, in Bareboat II; Sascha Jaeger’s Dufour 46, KH+P Oiseau, in Bareboat III; and Thedy Schmid’s Dufour 385, KH+P Clarabella, in Bareboat IV.
After a night partying on the beach at Fort James, on Monday, April 27, both Divisions will again sail a point-to-point contest: Leg II of the Around the Island Race for the A fleet, and the return Falmouth Harbour Race for those boats in the B fleet.
For more complete results, photographs, on-the-water features and much more, visit the Stanford Antigua Sailing Week website at www.sailingweek.com.
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