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Posts Tagged ‘antigua’

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Clean Report

After a couple of years away from the island, I was pleased to get such a warm welcome from the folks in Antigua for this year’s Antigua Sailing Week.  I was even more pleased to see that Antigua – the granddaddy of the Caribbean regatta scene – is among the first in the region to recover from the serious fleet damage done by the GFC.  Like all the historic Caribbean regattas ASW is well down from its highs, this year saw 118 boats on the line in a wide stretch of handicap and charter classes.  That’s 15 more than last year, and double-digit growth is nothing to sneeze at these days – especially with Les Voiles de St Barths skimming off the top spenders in the fleet.

ASW’s secret is that there is no secret at all; just common sense, hard work, and a great sailing venue.   To wit:

Screen Shot 2015-05-11 at 8.27.28 AMThe format is widely lauded as perfect; a full week of mostly short-course racing split up by a layday with a huge beach party and stand-alone spectator-friendly regatta.  For folks who want high-intesity, windward/leeward racing, Antigua is the best of them all, with laid marks and 1-2 hour courses taking up the majority of the week’s racing.  Unlike with the long, lazy courses at Les Voiles de Saint Barth or the Heineken, when you hit the daily beach party at the end of the dock, you know you’ve earned he right to drink to excess (or eat fresh sushi prepared right at the Club!)  And with ASW providing the final ‘jumping off’ point for many of the serious charter and private racing yachts headed back to England for the Solent racing season, the competition – especially in the 40-foot range – is absolutely fierce.  That’s maybe why we love the regatta so much; like very few others, it has a great balance between hard-ass racing, non-stop shoreside partying, and family-friendly fun.  And with a consistent crew of media and video staffers who put together the video above, they’ve been good at sharing it with potential customers.

Owners and boat managers dig it because yachting infrastructure is substantial on the island, thanks to a combination of investment in facilities, private and governmental recognition of the sport’s economic value, and a seriously forward-thinking Yacht Club and National Sailing Academy.  For years they’ve been teaching locals to swim and then teaching them to sail their way into a fun and typically well-paying career working with sailing and powerboats, and it seems like everyone on the island has a brother or cousin who works on boats.  Don’t underestimate the power of friendly locals; few things make competitors want to come back more than feeling truly welcome.  Regatta organizers run huge parties for both racers and locals, bringing in bands like Steel Pulse and endearing the regatta to thousands on the island.  Thanks to this cooperative arrangement, everything is easy compared to other islands, and finding someone to sort out repairs, electronics, sails, carpentry – even carbon work – is possible with a few phone calls.  All in all, this place has what a race team needs.

We’ve only got two issues with ASW, and with their new partnership with Sailors for the Sea and their long-running deal with the Rubber Ducky Recycling nutters, we hope one will be solved easily; that’s the ASW association with Day Sponsor Yida International, the Chinese developer of a massive new resort that may seriously harm some of the most important coral reef ecosystem in the area.  Yida’s VP allegedly went on an alcohol-fueled rant against critics of the project at the regatta’s closing ceremony last week, but it was an unnecessary rant – the real economic reality on the island means the resort if a done deal.  Ppposition to the plan has been easily quelled with promises of prosperity and jobs; that makes it even more important for organizations like ASW, the National Academy, and the AYC to advocate for development that protects these crucial resources for generations of sailors and fishermen to come.  And that means not accepting sponsorship from a company that’s not doing anything to help.

The other criticism of ASW may also be easy to solve; the regatta is just a little too late in the season, and many potential US boats have already headed North.  Many potential charter crews are already sanding and painting their own hulls back home.  The Caribbean is a winter circuit, and this one is just a little too springy for most people we spoke to – a couple of weeks would definitely increase participation from this side of the pond, at least.

With those two caveats, we can heartily recommend ASW for anyone looking for real, hardcore, caribbean racing and partying.  Watch the full video edit above for a report on the week, and for bikinis, barbecue, and Clean on commentary (as well as some good enviro-reporting), watch the Nonsuch Bay RS Elite Challenge Regatta video here.

Screenshot of spectators cheering on RS Elite teams from inside the zone comes from Acqua Films/Roddy GG.  Those of you patiently waiting for my Gunboat G4 foiler report and video, sit tight.  It’ll be worth it.

 

May 11th, 2015 by admin

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Since getting his walking papers along with the rest of the Luna Rossa team, 5-time AC’er Shannon Falcone is playing with some new toys. Having locked up the win on Thursday, a local took his spot on the Gunboat G4 for Friday’s race so Shannon could shoot some foiling action from the sky.  Here’s a look at this budding videographer’s  movie, and you can check out all the week’s videos and pics on the Gunboat Facebook Page.

Sick of the G4 yet?  We’re not.  It’s fast, it’s bold, and it unabashedly sticks up the middle finger to the establishment.  More importantly,  the concept works.  And it works better than even the ever-optimistic Peter Johnstone expected.

We’ll have a world-exclusive Antigua race report and boat review from our Senior Editor soon, and a comprehensive video walkthrough of the boat and all her systems later this week.  Until then, click HD and watch it big.

 

May 3rd, 2015 by admin

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Screen Shot 2015-04-25 at 8.50.52 AMClean Report

The G4 ‘Wipeout’ video has already racked up some 330,000 views in less than a week, well on its way to million-view status.  But I barely had time to enjoy it last week before Gunboat Marketing chief Lauren Bataille sent me a text message.

Still coming?” she wrote of my already-booked trip to Antigua for some G4 racing at Sailing Week.

Maybe I’m crazy, but watching a sweet 30-knot run segue into a gentle capsize didn’t make me nervous; in fact, it had the opposite effect, and sitting here at Newark airport waiting for a connection to Antigua, I find myself watching that video over and over again.  What would I do?  Where would I hang on?  Do I really want to find out?

My answer remains as it was in my response to Lauren.  “Hell f*&^ing yes!

My seven-months pregnant wife always knows how to cut to the chase.  “If she flips, be sure it wasn’t your fault,” was her first directive.  “Oh, and wear a helmet.  And have fun.”  That part should be no problem at all.

Got questions about the interior, the exterior, the foils, the stove, the capsize, the electrical system…or anything else?  Well, so do we.  Plant yours in the G4 thread (without being a dick) and we’ll try to get an answer for you. Keep an eye in the forum, on the front page, and especially on SA Facebook for video and pics from Antigua.

 

April 25th, 2015 by admin

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Paradox and Phaedo^3 are currently oblitering the existing Caribbean 600 race record while both Rambler 88 and Bella Mente are ahead of the monohull record; it’ll be over almost before it started so track ‘em all here and have a look at the people involved in the video above.  Ask or talk about this race over here.

UPDATE: Phaedo Start video here.

 

February 23rd, 2015 by admin

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There’s a perfect confluence this year of a strong economy, vibrant offshore racing scene, and serious multihull acceptance in 2016, and for those reasons, we’re calling it The Year Of Broken Records.  Thanks to ubiquitous maxi-multihulls, MOD70s, GC32s, AC45s and the new Ultim tris, nearly every inshore and ocean racing record could fall this year, which means plenty of masts and dreams will fail, too.

First up? Team Phaedo owner Lloyd Thornburg has finally recovered from his dismasting during the last Transpac, and with a massive refit and huge new rig, he’ll be assaulting the West Coast in 2016 with the now-fire engine red Gunboat 66.  But Thornburg’s got a nice combo of no fear and piles of time and money, and he just ‘scrounged together’ a MOD-70 (ex-Foncia) and shipped it across the ocean, recruiting some of the world’s top multihull and ocean racers for next week’s Caribbean 600.  With RTW record-holder Brian Thompson, double Vendee Globe winner Mich Desj, and a crew full of talent, there’s almost no conceivable way Phaedo can’t shatter the existing race record of 40 hours 11 mins 5 secs set by old-school ORMA 60 Region Guadeloupe all the way back in 2009.

With the new Rambler 88 and Turbo VO70 Maserati entered in the monohull class, there’s even a chance that the 40h20m monohull record set by David’s Rambler 100 (ex-Speedboat) can fall, but we’re expecting the first real assault on the monohull world to come from Kristy and the boys this spring.

Title shout out to a classic movie that fits…

 

February 19th, 2015 by admin

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Jaime Torres wraps up his report from Antigua Sailing Week from Class Zero.  Results are here, with the overhead shot from Tim Wright/photoaction.com

Let me re-cap the checklist I put together yesterday:

-Make sure Tonnerre beats True – CHECK

-Beat Scarlet Runner – CHECK

-Get the race committee to spare us from anymore Code Zero reaching legs. -CHECK

-Keep the A2 in one piece in 17 knots – CHECK

The deed is done, and an incredibly hard-fought second place will be etched into the memory of our crew of Northern Europeans for the rest of their lives!

It was a bad break for the otherwise well-sailed Scarlet Runner to rip a headsail halfway up the first windward leg on the final day of racing, and it goes to prove that old sails happen to best of us. They were our boat -for-boat challenger all week, and it sucked to lose our racing partner. We rocked the start (again), and kept the hammer on the whole time. Tonnerre did too -  they were very fast off the line and led most of the class, boat-for-boat, for the beginning of the first leg. That team has been around the Caribbean a few times and I enjoyed racing them when they were a 43 footer and my Smile and Wave was a 40 footer; they’re just as good now – or better.  Tonnerre finished with a perfect score line and truly deserve their top ranking. True suffered not from a performance malady but, in my opinion,  from a rating sting. They sailed well all week, but a 47-foot boat rating the same as TP52… it’s tough no matter how you look at it.

_pfa8804Our 2nd this week has been so thrilling to our team. Yes, we had some key positions filled by very qualified sailors… the driving, bow, pit, trim; Yes, the boat is very well rated; Yes, except for the lack of racing sails (an issue soon to be sweetly corrected), the boat is awesome. But, what made this regatta terrific was the team. Our navigator kept us in the game, the charter master, Ola Hox quickly learned the ins and out of TP52 driving and kept the boat on a groove when our seasoned pro Nic Bol was on break (about 50% of the time!) and the charter guests, a motley collection of businessmen, lawyers, doctors and entrepreneurs, provided plenty of horsepower to drive the grinders. Even in the worse of times everybody was smiling. The only rule was to have fun because, lets face it, that’s the only reason we are all here.

This team embodies the Smile and Wave sailing spirit. Those of you that have been following our adventures know that how cool its is to hang with great friends at fabulous regattas in a fun boat. Good performances generally follow, a podium finish is just a bonus, and the most important thing – the smiles – are enjoyed by all.

Our Caribbean season is done but I hope for more racing to be in the cards…Europe, Newport, Florida…who knows?  Keep an eye on Smile and Wave’s exploits here.

-Jaime Torres

May 5th, 2014 by admin

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_pfa6965Jaime checks in from the penultimate day in Antigua.  

Ok, lets get this out of the way: Balearia got her new sail! It’s a beautiful, paneled-spectra, 3di-looking high performance cruising sail. Faster than the number 4? In under 13 knots yes, over 16 knots, no. We put it up, again nailed the start, dropping True in our wake. Got to the windward ahead of everybody else and very close behind ICAP Leopard. We found a good speed boost and started savoring that huge bullet bonus!

As it turns out, we were a little early for that. A small navigational slip had us going fast in the wrong direction in the first long downwind leg. We lost all our gains and then some, as we had to hoist the jib (a tough job as this is no light weight race sail) and close reach up to the actual mark. To add insult to injury, what followed was a slalom of 2 back-to-back reaching legs where a Code 0 really paid off! Guess what? Our Code 0 is still in the planning stage. Our competition picked up and left us in the dust. True was particularly brilliant and had speed to burn; from were we were standing, they literally appeared to be riding the wake of twice-as-big ICAP Leopard.

Too bad we could not end our racing misery with just a single bad nav call on the day…In race 2, after a much-too-short lunch break, we had a less than stellar start. We went on to destroy another chute on the hoist, leaving us now with only one kite for the final day of racing: A big, light A2.

To remind you of just how close the fleet is here in Class 0, True came within 2 seconds of getting a bullet in the last race. And that valuable bullet would have given them not just equal points with us but the tie breaker in their favor. Thank voodoo for little favors! With our competition beating us in both races, we destroyed the nice points lead we had on both True and Scarlet Runner.  It’s now do or die for Team Varg on Day 5 of Antigua Sailing Week.

Here’s the Team Varg /Balearia ’to do’ list in order for us to take 2nd in CSA Class 0:

1) Make sure Tonnerre beats True
2) Beat Scarlet
3) Get the race committee to spare us from anymore Code 0 reaching legs.
4) Keep the A2 in one piece in 17 knots

No problem, right?

 

 

May 2nd, 2014 by admin

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Two AC wins and the informal title amongst San Franciscans as the AC’s sexiest sailor haven’t gone to Angtiguan Shannon Falcone’s head; the musclebound monster is still as humble and down-t0-Earth as he’s ever been, and he’s an easy guy to cheer for – especially when he’s using his connections to help kids in the islands get more into sailing.  Shannon was instrumental in getting the big Cup to town for a quick visit as Sailing Week comes into its final days; check out the video profile above for a look at Shannon and his family, with thanks to Roddy and the ASW video team.

 

May 2nd, 2014 by admin

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Balearia Antigua Round the Island Race 2014

Longtime Puerto Rican sailing and paddleboarding cheerleader Jaime Torres took a break from his Caribbean Melges 32 fleet building to hitch a ride on a TP52 for Antigua Sailing Week.  Here are his first three days of reports along with photos from Tim Wright/Photoaction.com.  Like Jaime’s Smile and Wave Sailing Team Facebook Page here for a fairly constant stream of year-round content from the Caribbean.  Results are here.

ASW Day One – Sunday

The Caribbean sun and heat is not-so-slowly converting our laminate sails into a pile of trash. Two races, three sails down. At this rate I’m hoping the engines works so that can go out to watch the races on the last day of Antigua Sailing Week!

Acquired by Sailing Experiences just last year, Balearia is a 2005 Botin/Carkeek TP52 that has found new life in the race charter business, a business that is just exploding in the Caribbean. Set up with new sails and rigging, these super fun and fast boats make great platforms a group of amateur sailors to get a feel for the grand prix racing experience without having to spend huge dollars. This light green boat rates very well under the Caribbean Sailing Association rating rule and its fairly easy to sail. With a few good guys and few more enthusiastic crews you can truly have blast and even a shot at some silver.

The week started with a royal screwing by British Airways who deemed that 2 kilos was too much over the weight limit and did not allow our new sails to travel with our arriving crew. So here we are, nailing the starts, sailing in the right direction, killing it on the corners and yet our performance is literally torn to pieces as sail after sail meets its timely death in under the loads of the TP52 in. In fairness, the headsails are almost as old as the boat, but still.

After Saturdays 7-hour Around the Island race, the group was stoked for some short course racing in classic Antigua conditions. We sailed away from the competition as we trucked upwind after winning the start just outside of English Harbour – A nice lane, flat water, sunshine and going fast. In the words of perennial ASW writer Louay Habib, “it’s still champagne sailing!” And then, the a sailor’s wet dream alarm goes off….the heartbreaking sound of a ripping mylar and exploding carbon strips as a jib tears from leach batten to luff. The boat’s pro crew jumps into action to put a peel into play; it’s an excruciating and exhausting 5 minutes before we have the #4 up, one of the few remaining sails onboard. We managed to stay ahead of the pro-sailed True but Scarlet Runner capitalizes on our break and sneaks past.

At the weather mark, it’s the monster Leopard, the Volvo 70, Scarlet, us and then True and Tonnerre. The goal here is to get a piece of Scarlet while keeping True behind us…Not on this leg! On the second beat we struggle as the breeze drops to about 11 knots, still outside the range of the aging light jib we have below and way light for the #4 we have up. Positions remain the same. At the last windward mark, the A2 gets wounded on the hoist and a peel gone bad kills it for good.

We gybed on every lift and kept the boat going but Scarlet just sailed away from us. Day 1 ended with Tonnerre winning on corrected, Scarlet Runner in second and Balearia in third.

What is really cool is how this big group of older sailors, asking the right questions, hiking like they mean it and just stepping up their game every day. Much credit goes to Juan Navarro, the young Spanish dynamo/boat captain that Hitlers everybody in hiking and runs from the foredeck to the stern and back again, keeping this crazy train wreck going!

The boat gets lighter every day as we narrow down our available sail choices. We are now hopping for less than 10 or more than 18 knots so that we can work with what we have while waiting for replacement sails to arrive. The forecast is standard Caribbean: 12 to 15 from the east, partly cloudy with a chance of showers.  Horrible, right?

Round the Island Saturday

Balearia Antigua Round the Island Race 2014This was one long-ass, nearly 7 hour marathon of a race with light to moderate shifty winds including a massive hole in the leeward side of Antigua. A decent start off the huge cliffs of Shirley Heights was a sign of things to come: With a 90-foot luxury cruiser/racer on our windward quarter and solid rock about 150 ahead we started asking for water. Their response:  ”What?”

Us: “We need to tack!”

Them: “What?”

Us: “Ok, we’re tacking”

Right around that time, we realized there was a bigger problem: The VO-70 on their windward beam.  They were perhaps not prepared for a few minutes of wild puertorrican gesturing – that got them and the Volvo on the right page and everybody tacked over just in the nick of time.  Get clear on the rules, people!

From then on it was a chase after the well sailed Kernan 47 True and the RP 52 Scarlett Runner. Our first race as team came together nicely with the only casualty being an old medium jib that bit the dust.

ASW Practice Friday

We are racing with a charter crew that was just as long on age as they are in enthusiasm. They hit the grinders under the eyes of Nic Bol…a high level pro racer brought in to give this fun charter a chance to not only survive the week in one piece but maybe even collect some silver along the way. The crew boss, a young spanish kid barely into his low twenties yelled non-stop for everybody to hike like their lives depended on keeping the boat flat. Yeah it was bit of bitch but we managed to get though it. By the time we hit the dock at nearly 4 pm we had tacked about 150 times and gybed way too much. I thought you could never get enough of TP52 sailing but now I know you can.

We are looking forward to fun day on the water tomorrow in the Yachting World Around Antigua Race. We will be racing against some talented crews on very fast boats including the 100’ ICAP Leopard. I like our chances,but that is only if we can drag our tired souls back on board for a 8am off the dock call.

 

April 28th, 2014 by admin

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Whaddya get when you put the youngest-ever winning skipper of the Volvo Ocean Race together with one of America’s best skippers on a J/V 72 with enough time on the water now for the kinks to be worked out?  At the moment, Terry Hutchinson and Moose Sanderson have helped Hap Fauth’s Bella Mente to a current 1st overall, 1st in class, and less than a mile behind the all-conquering Rambler 90 in one of the world’s most enjoyable races.  Track them here, and there’s just a few hours left for one lucky guesser to win a bottle of Oracle Team USA alum and Antigua native Shannon Falcone’s home-brewed rum; we’re not sure it’s legal, but Shannon vowed on his Facebook page to send a bottle to whoever can get closest to the correct line honors boat and closest finish time, but you have to get it in before noon PST today (that’s in a few hours).  Check it out here and thanks to forss for the heads up in the thread. Tim Wright photo.  

 

February 25th, 2014 by admin

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