Like many international sailing events, this spring’s Antigua Sailing Week found itself having to cope with the eruption of Iceland’s Eyjafjallajkull volcano, the bareboat fleet in particular taking a serious hit.
“The Icelandic volcano probably lost us 15 to 20 boats,” said regatta director Neil Forrester. “Flights out of Europe were closed just at a time when a lot of charter guests were coming over to pick up boats from other islands to bring them up.”
In all, 106 boats took part in 12 different classes, down substantially from years past when the regatta hosted more than 200 competitors. Blame the volcano, blame the economy, blame whatever you like, just don’t say the regatta has lost its spark—because it most certainly hasn’t.
Check out any of the myriad of parties—particularly the blowout gala atop Shirley Heights on the event’s penultimate evening—and you’ll see keen amateurs intermingling with pros and locals. Couple this with one of the Caribbean’s most dramatic coastlines, postcard conditions and friends from yesteryear, and you’ll understand why so many sailors return again and again.
While conditions at this year’s regatta proved light—with average winds around 10 knots and hotter-than-average temps—the competition was as advertised, but with an increased emphasis on tactics and strategy rather than boathandling.
In the grand prix classes, all eyes were on the closely fought duel between the Judel-Vrolijk 72 RAN and the Reichel-Pugh 75 Titan XV, a tussle that was ultimately decided in RAN’s favor by a four-point margin.
In the bareboat fleet, Herbert Muenzel’s Dufour 455 Sea you later won first overall in the Gold Fleet, despite having one of the, er, most “experienced” crews in the regatta. According to Meunzel, the average age of his crew, which hails from northern Germany, was about 70, giving them a whopping 350 years combined experience afloat. “We’d like to tell all those young people, there is still hope,” Muenzel said afterward. “We feel extremely happy to have won this incredible title.”