Clean Sweet WindApril 25, 2013
Taking a few days off and heading down to Antigua to race wooden boats is a treat, even by our standards. Our annual pilgrimage to the Antigua Classic Yacht Regatta sponsored by Panerai combines our passion for racing with a love of wooden boats. The event, which is one of the largest gatherings of its kind in the World, blends competition with a wonderful celebration of traditional sailing.
The starts are jammed with drop dead gorgeous boats including elegant schooners, racing sloops and traditional wooden working boats. We race aboard Zemi, a 40' sloop built on the beach in Carriacou in the Grenadines by the renowned shipwright Alwyn Enoe. The Carriacou sloops form a virtual one-design class within the regatta. The racing is tight, and the post-race camaraderie, fueled by Mount Gay and local Antiguan rum, is boisterous. The boats are traditional in every way with just two winches, a long boomed mainsail and a genoa. You sweat in the main sheet by hand and the spinnaker pole is a length of bamboo. There are no instruments. It's all about boat speed and tactics. Local knowledge is king, and with a boatload of Antiguan's there is no shortage of tactical opinions, occasional disagreements and plenty of jokes. Oh yeah, everyone is on the lookout for fish too. (Antiguan's, the lot of them, all love to fish).
Zemi was off the pace on day one of the regatta but we pulled it together and posted solid 2nd place finishes in the remaining three races, including an excruciating 5 second margin on corrected time in race #2. We had all conditions from squally 30-knot squalls with 15-foot seas to gorgeous 15-knot trade winds under blue skies. Rain or shine we were comfortable in our HIHO Suntek shirts!