Livin’ it up in Antigua

by Alison Sly-Adams

Race Day One | Nelson’s Dockyard Antigua, WI – Thursday, 09 March 2023

Action & Catalina © Claire Matches

The first day of racing at the Superyacht Challenge Antigua was blessed with tropical heat and moderate breeze of 12-15 knots from an unusual westerly wind direction. The Race Committee set a course of approximately 13.5nm, composed of seven legs. With plenty of mark roundings over a short distance, precision in boat handling and lay line calls, avoided costly extra manoeuvres.

A reaching start to Nelson was followed by two longer legs offshore into the breeze. At Rupert, the Superyachts cracked sheets and hoisted downwind sails, heading back towards Antigua. At Rendezvous, the boats hardened up for a short coastal beat to Curtains, followed by a long reach to Nelson and a short, tight reach to finish.

Gitana clear ahead © Claire Matches

The 112ft Sparkman & Stephens sloop Kawil and the 148ft Dubois ketch Catalina both made  impressive starts. However, the start of the day was the last to set off in the pursuit style sequence; the 148ft Dubois sloop Gitana was just 5 seconds shy of the gun. Gitana showed a great turn of speed to overhaul every boat and take line honours in an elapsed time of 1 hour 44 mins 04 secs. Next to finish was the 121ft Dykstra sloop Action. Third over the finish line was a real thriller; John McMonigall’s Oyster 82 Zig Zag, was just 20 seconds ahead of the 112ft Sparkman & Stephens sloop Kawil. The 148ft Dubois ketch Catalina was just three minutes astern.

After ORCsy time correction, a photo-finish was the result. The 121ft Dykstra sloop Action was the winner by just 30 seconds from the 148ft Dubois sloop Gitana. The smallest boat in the regatta, John McMonigall’s Oyster 82 Zig Zag completed the podium.

Zig Zag © Claire Matches

“John McMonigall is a pure gentleman and he has been at the helm of an Oyster for over 30 years, so great fun to sail with, every regatta I go to is about the team I am racing with and this team is a lot of fun,” commented Ireland’s Laura Dillon, tactician on Zig Zag. “All of the Zig Zag team participate and learn from what they are doing, I was a bit rusty at the start because I am not used to an 82ft boat, the smaller boats I sail accelerate faster than Zig Zag, so we were a little late at the start!”

Zig Zag’s bow Grace Murray © Claire Matches

Laura Dillon is one of seven women onboard Zig Zag today and there are 11 women in the squad of 19 that are racing at the Superyacht Challenge Antigua. “The Zig Zag team is very inclusive and everyone enjoys being out there,” continued Laura. “Tactically today there was a trade off between staying offshore to get more breeze or going inshore to get a lift off the land. After rounding Rendezvous, we stayed inshore, got the lift, and avoided two tacks to make the windward mark.”

Kawil & Catalina © Claire Matches

SYCA Race Officials Willii Gohl and Gordon Stredwick reported excellent co-operation between the Communications Officers that are on board every superyacht. One example was as Kawil and Catalina were approaching Nelson for the last mark of the race. Kawil asked Catalina for room at the mark, this was acknowledged and given by Catalina without any hesitation.

After a superb day of close racing, the evening entertainment also had a competitive edge.

The Famous Cook Off with the theme of Antigua Carnival, pits superyacht against superyacht in a contest of galloping gourmets. The culinary contest is coloured with a Carnival fancy dress theme, with all the crews winding up to the rhythm of a Soca music!

© Ted Martin

First the teams must light their Caribbean Coal Pot, then one Caribbean dish must be cooked in the traditional way. The chef that provides the best meal according to the theme for their crew on the large BBQ provided will receive a prize, which is usually a barrel of rum, suitably filled.

Racing for the 12th edition of the Superyacht Challenge Antigua is scheduled to continue tomorrow, Friday 10 March.

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