The first official event of the 34th Antigua Classic Yacht Regatta took place this morning: the judging of the Concours d’Elégance. Fifteen yachts entered this prestigious challenge, with competition being fierce. The smallest boat was 31ft and the largest was 72ft, the competitors belonging to four different classes.
The four judges were particularly impressed by a 40ft steel Cornish lugger Eleanor B, built in 2005. Owner and skipper, Gabriel Clarke, was bursting with such heartfelt exuberance and enthusiasm for his boat, which was an ingenious but genuinely authentic mix of fixtures and parts. Such was his passion for Eleanor B crossing the Atlantic to be here in Antigua to take part in the Regatta that the Judges unanimously agreed to award her a Special Prize for epitomising the Spirit of the Regatta.
In Vintage Class the ultimate choice was difficult but in the end it was agreed that 72ft Herreshoff ketch, Ticonderoga, built in 1930, was the winner.
In Classic Class the beautiful 52ft Sparkman & Stephens yawl Mah Jong outshone her rivals and was voted first in her class.
In the closely-contested Traditional Class, the judges declared they had never seen the three Carriacou sloops that had entered looking so good. In the end, they awarded first place to 31ft New Moon who had worked so hard in the last few weeks to get her ready. This included stepping a new mast three days previously and fabricating their own rigging.
In the Spirit of Tradition Class, 47ft Freya of Midgard, designed by Bill Dixon and built in 2003, was the the obvious outright winner; in addition to her impeccable maintenance and sleek design, down below was a revelation: such as the use of exquisite porcelain in the head, mahogany cabinets on the bulkhead containing cut glass crystal decanters and glasses & the old fashioned stove, used once a year to heat soup…the judges agreed that Freya was exceptional in every regard and she represented the future for classic yachts.
And last but by no means least, 65ft Nat Benjamin Gaff Schooner Juno was voted Overall Winner of the Concours d’Elégance 2023; the judges pronounced the boat absolutely impeccable, thanks largely to the superb varnishing undertaken by the crew itself.
Hearty congratulations to all the boats that worked so hard to be part of this traditional event.
In perfect weather conditions, five boats competed in this first race of the Regatta that took place this afternoon: the Single-Handed Race. 47ft Freya of Midgard had the best start closely followed by 50ft Charm III, then 32ft Ellemia, 33ft Nuages with 34ft Sea Swan bringing up the rear. Sea Swan broke her tiller at the start, replaced it with a functioning one, set off again and ended up winning her Class.
In the Large Classics, Charm III was the winner; Freya was the winner of the Spirit of Tradition Class – and Sea Swan won the Small Classics Class.