Countdown is on for 30th Antigua Classic Yacht Regatta.
Preparations are in full swing for the 2017 Antigua Classic Yacht Regatta, sponsored by Panerai, which will hold its landmark 30th annual event next April. We invite you all to join us.
Scores of vintage vessels are set to descend on the international sailing hub for an extra special edition of what has become a highlight of the global classic sailing calendar.
This unique regatta – hosted by Antigua Yacht Club – will see a diverse range of competitors including the traditional island crafts, classic ketches, sloops, schooners and yawls together with the graceful Tall Ships, J Class and Spirit of Tradition yachts.
Together, these boats make a wonderful spectacle powered by the region’s trade winds and spectacular sailing conditions. The slew of races, combined with Antigua’s famous hospitality and sunshine, places the Antigua Classic Yacht Regatta in a class of its own and is a testament to keeping traditions alive – remembering the skills and passion of designers and shipwrights from years gone by.
The regatta evolved from the Caribbean’s longest running sailing event, Antigua Sailing Week, which itself dates back to 1967. Back then, all of the yachts were classics but as the years passed they were slowly outnumbered by modern racing yachts. In 1987, three veteran captains – Uli Pruesse, Tony Fincham and Kenny Coombs – joined forces to create a specialized race for classic boats. With a total of eight entries in the first year, the Antigua Classic Yacht Regatta was born.
Over the years, the event has grown with the help of a faithful and long-standing committee, a host of enthusiastic volunteers and the passion of classic yacht owners and their crew. In 1996 a new class of yachts was allowed to enter for the first time, opening up the regatta to an even wider audience. This Spirit of Tradition Class, first developed in Antigua, has now been adopted by many other classic regattas across the world, giving new yachts, built along the lines of the old, a chance to sail alongside their grand older sisters. In 1999, Antigua Classic Yacht Regatta hosted the first race between the J class yachts in 60 years.
One local competitor is Olympian Carlo Falcone who has lived in Falmouth Harbour, Antigua since sailing here with his family from Italy in 1984. Carlo’s son Shannon was a member of Team Oracle, winner of 2013 America’s Cup.
Carlo has taken part in Classics more than 20 times aboard his 24-metre 1936 vintage Fife classic, Mariella which he bought at auction in 1992. The Alfred Milne-designed ketch last competed in 2014, winning Vintage Class A and defeating the Francis Herreshoff-designed 72-foot ketch, Ticonderoga. But in October 2014 Mariella was badly damaged when Hurricane Gonzalo ripped through the Caribbean and she was shipped to Genoa, Italy, for a huge restoration project.
“Antigua is Mariella’s home, as it is for me and my family, so Antigua Classics is a very special regatta,” Carlo said.
He explained that Antigua Classics differs to its Mediterranean counterparts because practically every boat participating is an ocean-going vessel.
“Many boats at Mediterranean regattas are kept in a harbour or yard and brought out for a few months in the summer. In Antigua there is usually much more wind and bigger waves, and the classics just love those conditions,” Carlo added.
The repaired Mariella’s epic adventure continues with Carlo set to sail her back across the Atlantic with his family – just as he did three decades earlier – to once again compete at Classics in 2017.