The Jolly Harbour Valentine's Regatta 2013 drew to a close and the young crew of Cork 1720 Digicel Challenger celebrated the final day with a victory bash at the beach on Sunday evening, 10 February, after their overall win in the Racing Division of the popular sailing event in Antigua.
'This is a great victory for us,' said helmsman Bob Green. 'The guys have worked so hard, training after school to prepare for this event.'
In the cruising division Rick Gormley and his crew on First 38 Elethea were also celebrating their win. 'I've done this event for 13 years and in fact the Jolly Harbour Valentine's Regatta is the reason I came to live in Antigua,' he said. 'I would put 95 percent of our success down to the crew work and five percent to the helm! The racing was very close and there are some good sailors out there so we are very pleased with our victory.'
The Multihull Class was the first to start today's racing. John Westgarth-Pratt's Ascension, a Fontain-Pajot 36 Mahé and Bill Clifton's Catana 43 Four Winds came neatly off the start line only inches apart, and enjoyed a close few legs before Four Winds finally took victory on the finish line. Their one-race 17 mile course, set to suit their size and handling, took in 13 mark roundings, taking them up to the harbour entrance of Antigua's capital, St John's for some challenging manoeuvres. 'The long legs of the course suited us really well,' said John. 'It was a great sail for us up to St John's and then we flew back with the spinnaker.'
For the other two classes, Cruising and Spinnaker, today's final programme consisted of two races with starts just outside the entrance to Jolly Harbour and a first windward leg into the shore and back to Five Islands. From there a series of windward leeward legs took the fleet northwards.
The Jolly Harbour Valentine's Regatta ended as it began three days ago, in perfect conditions of 12-14 knots and flat turquoise seas. Chairman of the Regatta Organising Committee, Kathy Lammers summed up the event. 'We've seen a wonderful celebration of the regatta's 20th anniversary,' she said. 'We've had excellent conditions and such great participation from a wide variety of yachts, both those based in Antigua, and others who are passing through on their voyage itineraries. We are really looking forward to the event growing further in future years.'
The racing was exceptionally close. Stephen Carson and his crew on Hightide were sniffing victory as they came bounding back from a sluggish start to the event. They added another first and second to yesterday's improving results, to end up only one point adrift of Digicel Challenger's winning score. Geoffrey Pidduck's six-metre Biwi Magic experienced a minor drama when she dragged Jolly, the first windward mark, downwind as she attempted to round. One competitor observed: 'A couple of boats are saying a very big thank you to Mr. Pidduck for moving the mark to their advantage!'
In the cruising division only three points separated second, third and forth position, Don Ward's Frolic, Festus Isaac's Chardonnay, and Robbie Ferron's Springtide respectively.
There were some heroes too. May, Charles Kenlock's Tord Sunden Folkboat, only 27-foot long, the lowest rated yacht in the fleet, retired yesterday with boom damage, but despite her absence putting her back to last place, she returned today to complete both races taking up the rear, but pulling herself up a position in the final results.
'We were very lucky with the general wind direction today which gave us the great windward leeward angles between Five Islands and Hermitage,' commented Chief Race Officer Paul Miller.
The regatta wasn't just for the keelboats. The celebration was joined by a dozen Laser Pico dinghies provided by Antigua National Sailing Academy which completed six races today close off Jolly Harbour beach. Winning all but one of Sunday's six races was 11-year old Antiguan youth sailor Rocco Falcone, who is already an emerging star at championship level. But it was the consistency of Bea Shrewsbury that took the championship. Olympic sailor Karl James was on hand during the weekend to offer some coaching advice. 'All the young sailors who took part did incredibly well' he said.
Prizes were presented by Antigua and Barbuda Minister of Tourism, the Hon John Maginley at the closing Rum on the Beach party at Castaways Beach Bar. Competitors and guests enjoyed the music of Chicki's Hi Fi as well as the Spirited Band and enjoyed beach cricket organized by former West Indies pace bowler Kenneth Benjamin.
Alison Sly-Adams, Marketing and Sponsorship Director for the Jolly Harbour Valentine's Regatta and Rum Festival, described the ethos of the event. 'We are delighted with the reaction to the entire event from sailors, partygoers and sponsors,' she says. 'This was the first year of the Rum Festival and we have been able to really assess the potential of the event. Our rum sponsors have given us fantastic support with their displays and bars. The visiting public has tasted new rums and new and exciting ways of drinking them! We look forward to further developing the festival into a platform for participating rum brands to use as a showcase in 2014 and each year.'
Regatta sponsors include founding partners Jolly Harbour Marina Village, Budget Marine, Jolly Harbour Marina, Jolly Harbour Yacht Club, Jolly Harbour Merchants' Association and Jolly Harbour Homeowners' Association. The event is also supported by Antigua and Barbuda Ministry of Tourism, Seahawk Paints, Pineapple Rentals, Townhouse Megastore, Digicel, Outdoor World Yamaha and Takumi.
Thanks to the seven Rum Partners: English Harbour Rum, Clements Rum, Angostura Rum, Mount Gay Rum, Appleton Rum, El Dorado, Bacardi.
CSA Spinnaker series (Final after seven races)
1. Digicel Challenger (12 points) 2. Hightide (13 points) 3. Blue peter (18 points) 4. Biwi Magic (21 points) 5. High tension (23 points) 6. Half Moon (27 points) 7. Spirit of Neptune (47 points) 8. Windward (52 points)