Antigua Superyacht Challenge Wraps Up

by Alison Sly-Adams

Nelson’s Dockyard, Antigua, 18 March 2024. The 13th edition of the Superyacht Challenge Antigua (SYCA) was held in fantastic conditions off the South Coast of Antigua with Tradewinds ranging from 13-20 knots. Five days of racing were held rounding deep water and inshore marks, making full use of Antigua’s ocean swell and stunning coastal vistas.

Swan 90 Freya © Claire Matches

Each evening, themed event nights, all set in historic Nelson’s Dockyard, give an opportunity for crews to meet up and party in a laid back environment, free from commercial endorsements. While superyachts race to win their class, there is no mathematical overall winner. Each competing yachts, and the race committee, cast one vote for the yacht that has competed in the Spirit of the Regatta, both afloat and ashore. The winner lifts The Gosnell Trophy.

For the 2024 edition of the Superyacht Challenge Antigua, the Gosnell Trophy was presented by Arthur & Page Gosnell . Voting was unanimous, the winner was the 182ft (55.5m) Dykstra schooner Adela skippered by Greg Perkins.

182ft (55.5m) Dykstra schooner Adela © Claire Matches

“We bought Adela in 2020 and we have not been able to race her due to Covid, so Adela has been out for four years.” commented Adela’s owner. “This is the first time I have been in this environment and it has been fantastic. The spirit of the team, their passion, the history, and the philosophy of Adela is wonderful. This has presented my kids with the opportunity to be here, surrounded by beautiful people that work as a team that looks for the same goal; everyone protects each other. I am very proud to have the chance to be with Adela. I hope to be back many times in the future.”

108ft (33m) Hoek designed sloop Namuun © Claire Matches

The Rebecca Trophy was awarded to the 108ft (33m) Hoek designed sloop Namuun, skippered by Tom Aiken. Toby Allies & Mike Carr from Pendennis Shipyard presented the trophy to the regatta debutant on St. Patrick’s Day. Namuun is based in Antigua but has more than a sprinkling of Irish sailors on board. Toby Allies congratulated the organisers for running a safe and memorable regatta, and commended Namuun for their great attitude to racing.

Hetairos © Claire Matches

Privateer Class

The 218ft (66.45m) Dykstra/Reichel Pugh ketch Hetairos skippered by Graham Newton, was a spectacular sight at the Superyacht Challenge Antigua. Capable of hoisting over 6000 sq.m. of sail area, Hetairos can sail as fast as the wind at just about every point of sail. Hetairos started her campaign winning the stand alone Round Antigua Race and went on to win all four races of the series in her class.

Ashore the Hetairos team enjoyed all of the parties; At the Famous Cook-Off, Hetairos won the Best meal according to theme Pirates of the Caribbean and a special mention as in true camaraderie spirit they lent their flint to the Zig Zag crew to light their coal pot. Hetairos skipper Graham Newton also picked up the prize for the loudest Caribbean men’s shirt at The Caribbean Night!

Team Hetairos © Claire Matches

“This is Hetairos owners favourite regatta and he has been coming to the Antigua since 1972,” commented Hetairos skipper Graham Newton. “The venue and the history of Nelson’s Dockyard plus the atmosphere of the regatta because it is so laid back with a great Caribbean vibe. On top of that is the racing! The courses and the conditions are challenging, which is what all of the Hetairos team loves.”

Swan 90s Freya and Hummingbird © Claire Matches

Corsair Class

Two battling Swan 90s had a fanatic duel throughout the Superyacht Challenge Antigua. Hummingbird, skippered by Josh Hill, and Don Macpherson’s Freya enjoyed intense racing throughout. As well as close racing with the 110ft (33.5m) Malcolm McKeon sloop Zemi skippered by Hjalmar Winbladh. Don Macpherson’s 90ft (27m) Swan Freya, competing in their fourth regatta, showed impressive boat handling and determination to win the Corsair Class. Freya won every race but it was far from easy, with pressure throughout the four race series.

Team Freya © Claire Matches

“Great racing and good fun,” commented Freya skipper Joph Carter. “The owner is happy and we sailed the boat clean and the event was so good! Antigua is Freya’s base, our spiritual home. We have raced this regatta for years without winning our class, so it’s nice to get the monkey off our back. This is not a commercial event, but we have a good crew of sailors and it really is a memorable one to win.”

110ft (33.5m) Malcolm McKeon sloop Zemi © Claire Matches

Swam 90 Hummingbird showed great pace to take runner-up in the Round Antigua Race and during the regatta, Hummingbird was the best starter for the entire fleet, averaging just 4 seconds short of the line. The Hummingbird team were taking part in their first regatta and like Freya and Zemi, joined in all of the shoreside festivities.

Oyster 82 Zig Zag © Claire Matches

Buccaneer Class

John McMonigall’s Oyster 82 Zig Zag, skippered by Carl Raynes, was competing in their eight regatta in a row, and are two-time winners the Gosnell Trophy. Competing this year against the 108ft (33m) Hoek designed sloop Namuun, skippered by Tom Aiken, although the two boats are very different, the boat-to-boat on the water was very close. The Zig Zag crew was the youngest team in the regatta, as well the only crew with as many women as men sailors aboard. Zig Zag completed a faultless score line for the Superyacht Challenge Antigua.

Sadly Zig Zag owner John McMonigall was not on board but he really wanted to be here,” commented Zig Zag skipper Carl Raynes. “We have tried to do the regatta as if John was here, and we have had video calls with John all the time, keeping up the Spirit of Zig Zag.”

Zig Zag Team at The SYCA Welcome Party

Ashore Zig Zag take their partying to another level! Winning at the Cook-Off for best dressed crew according to theme Pirates of Caribbean, and best lighting of the coal pot. Zig Zag was also the best dressed team for the Caribbean Night!

SYCA Race Committee © claire Matches

The Superyacht Challenge Famous Cook-Off and Caribbean Night are always a colourful affair with Superyacht owners, guests and crew enjoying fabulous dining and entertainment in Nelson’s Dockyard. Where do you see a regatta race committee dressed in loud shirts? It has been suggested that the Protest Committee should have kept their shirts on for protest hearings but there weren’t any!

The Superyacht Challenge Antigua Prizegiving was held on the Lawn at the Admiral’s Inn, Nelson’s Dockyard. Master of Ceremonies was PRO Hank Stuart; a fabulous affair with winners receiving tumultuous applause from their rivals as well as Barrels of Rum suitably filled.

Stan Pearson © Claire Matches

Superyacht Challenge Antigua co-founder Stan Pearson was present in spirit throughout the regatta. Stan sadly passed away just a few weeks before the start. After his burial at sea flanked by superyachts, a memorial was held in Nelson’s Dockyard with hundreds of the sailing community in attendance. Stan will always be remembered for his tremendous work, love and enthusiasm for sailing. A deep water mark ‘Stan’ has been named in his memory. Three cheers were given Stan at the prizegiving and the whole of Nelson’s Dockyard heard it.

Superyacht Challenge Antigua co-founder Paul Deeth has confirmed the dates for the 14th edition of the Superyacht Challenge Antigua, which will be held 04-11 March, 2025.

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