The world-famous Antigua Sailing Week has kicked off its annual festivities for what has become the Caribbean’s greatest sailing event.
This year is the 50th edition of Sailing Week, which is bringing together 150 teams racing a variety of yachts and around 1,500 competitors from 32 countries, bookended by the Guadeloupe to Antigua Race and the Peters & May Round Antigua Race.
Thousands more visitors will join in the accompanying celebrations, with seven beach days and party nights and an all-star Reggae in the Park concert highlighted by superstar Damian Marley.
British boats have been coming to Antigua Sailing Week since the first regatta in 1968.
Sir Peter Harrison’s Farr 115, Sojana was the last British team to win the coveted Lord Nelson Trophy and the ketch is back, gleaming after a major refit intent on a close battle with Jean-Paul Riviere’s Finot 100, Nomad IV. Ross Applebey’s Oyster 48, Scarlet Oyster, Sir Richard Matthews’ Humphries 38, Oystercatcher XXXI and Chris Jackson’s First 40, Arthur can be counted as British boats to watch this year.
Richard Matthews will be competing at his 37th Antigua Sailing Week and as a long-time resident of the island has won class at Antigua Sailing Week on many occasions. This year, Oystercatcher XXXI and Scarlet Oyster have been on sparkling form, unbeaten in class all season. Last year both boats won their class at Antigua Sailing Week, but neither has won the Lord Nelson Trophy.
“I’m making no predictions for 2017 except that I’m certain we will all have a great time,” explained Matthews. “Our crew includes Saskia Clark, our tactician who won an Olympic Gold Medal in the 470 class in Rio and was subsequently named Rolex Female World Sailor of the Year and honoured with an MBE in the UK. Saskia comes from Mersea Island, my home town on the UK’s East Coast, so now you have a golden girl for the regatta’s golden 50th edition.”
The Caribbean islands are well represented at Antigua Sailing Week with teams from: Antigua & Barbuda, Barbados, British Virgin Islands, Guadeloupe, Jamaica, Martinique, St Barths, St Maarten and Trinidad.