Collection of Classics in Antigua
Published on April 17th, 2017
English Harbour is electric with excitement as boats sail in for the 30th Antigua Classic Yacht Regatta on April 20-24, the first in this year’s series of the Panerai Classic Yacht Challenges.
Vessels are arriving from all quadrants of the compass. Some crossed the ocean in containers; a few cruised north from down island; many journeyed from the States, Canada, Bermuda, Europe and beyond. One came from the Pacific Ocean via the Panama Canal and another took the long way around the Horn. Lucky ones came straight from the boatyard.
The fleet, hovering near 50 entrants, is as varied as a string of signal flags, and since registration is still open, there will surely be more colour. The matriarch this year is the 72’ gaff yawl, Anne Marie, built in 1911. Sharing the spotlight as youngest, built in 2015, are Chloe Giselle, a 65’ Sean McMillan Spirit Sloop and the 42’ Alwyn Enoe Carriacou sloop, Free in St Barths. In between, ranging from 30’ to 178’, with build dates spanning a century, are an intoxicating blend of rigs and sail configurations, all nodding to the past.
Entrants, tied stern to the quay in horseshoe configuration at the 17th century Nelson’s Dockyard, are undergoing spa treatments as varnish is freshened, bronze polished and last minute paint applied, all in preparation for the pre-race beauty contest, the Concours d’Elégance, on April 20. Antigua’s varnish artisans, famous for their talent and skill, are working dawn to dusk and the results are stunning.
To commemorate this monumental year, the venue has shifted to the Dockyard, an elegantly restored UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The ACYR is renowned for incredible camaraderie shared by old-school yacht enthusiasts. Spontaneous celebrations erupt dockside and on-deck throughout the week, but it’s the official Welcome Party on Wednesday night (Apr. 19) that will launch the week into full sail.
On the water, competition begins Thursday with the Single-Handed race followed by four days of significant contests within eight classes.