At sea and ashore, the last-minute preparations are underway. Sails have been checked and rechecked. Crew lists have been finalized and travel arrangements secured. The race committee has a weather eye on the horizon, keeping abreast of the latest forecast with fingers crossed for plenty of breeze. Race organizers are tending to a vast list of administrative details and gearing up for the all-important shore-side parties. After all, there’s a very important birthday coming up which calls for a proper celebration.
Racing commences this Sunday, April 29, and the action continues through Friday, May 4. With final entries due on April 25, the 40th edition of Sailing Week has attracted a truly international fleet of nearly 200 yachts of all sizes and descriptions.
A perusal of the entry list reveals a wide cross-section of boats and nationalities. Of the 192 entries so far, 70 will be flying the flag of the United Kingdom. There are 25 German boats and another 20 yachts from the United States. France has a dozen entries and Antigua and Barbuda is well represented with 11 boats on the entry list. There are additional entries from A to Z – Australia to Zimbabwe – including Belgium, Canada, Italy, Switzerland, Sweden, Russia, and many of the islands of the Caribbean. Altogether, over 25 countries are represented, making Stanford Antigua Sailing Week something like the United Nations of yachting.
Breaking the fleet down further, there are nearly 70 bareboat charter yachts on the entry list and 10 multihulls. The racing multihull class, in particular, should enjoy more than its fair share of thrills and chills. The South African-build Gunboat catamarans are making their mark, with three Gunboat 48s ready to do battle: John Kwitek’s Sailing Lickety Split from the U.S., Hubertus Brockhaus’s An Jella from Switzerland, and Antigua’s own Xavier Ross on Cream. They’ll be joined by a Gunboat 62 – Bruce and Nora Slayden’s Looking for Elvis from the U.K. – and the Formula 40 Soma sailed by Nils Erickson of the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Among the dual-purpose racer/cruisers so popular in the Caribbean, few classes have the numbers enjoyed by the Beneteau 40.7s, of which there are currently nine entries including Pat Holloran’s First Away, Arthur Cowdrey’s Spirit of Athena, Calvin Reed’s Elandra and Ken Acott’s Coyote. However, the pre-regatta favorite has to be Puerto Rico’s own Sergio Sagramoso and his talented crew aboard Lazy Dog, a boat and team well acquainted with first-place finishes.
Of course, no Caribbean regatta would be complete without a fleet of graceful Swans, and Stanford Antigua Sailing Week has them in abundance. There’s Selene, Duke Steinemann’s Swan 80; Chippewa, Clay Deutsch’s Swan 68, and Schider, Barry Sampson’s Swan 62. Then, of course, there’s the trio of Swan 60s that should enjoy some tremendous competition: Sir Peter Odgen’s Spirit of Jethou, Leonardo Ferragamo’s Cuordileone, and Jim Swartz’s Moneypenny. And special recognition goes out to the sole Russian skipper in the 2007 event, Mikhail Mouratov on the Swan 48, Murka.
In fact, there are several nations with sole representatives looking to make their mark on Sailing Week. Count Ireland’s Gerard O’Rourke, sailing the Cookson 50, Cheiftain; Bermuda’s Patrick Adams, aboard the Swan 77 Varsovie; and South African J.J. Provoyeur on the Lavranos-designed After You, among them.
The boat all eyes will be upon, however, is ABN AMRO ONE, skippered by New Zealand’s Mike “Moose” Sanderson and an all-star crew of offshore veterans. Nicknamed “Black Betty,” ABN AMRO ONE is fresh from a dominating victory in the recent running of the around-the-world Volvo Ocean Race, as well as local triumphs at the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta and the BVI Spring Regatta. With a strong showing in Antigua, ABN AMRO ONE can wrap up a remarkable run of success with overall honors in the 2007 Caribbean Big Boat Series.
Taken together, it’s clear on the eve of competition that the 40th Anniversary of Stanford Antigua Sailing Week will be a most memorable affair. The time for talking is almost over. This Sunday, the starting gun will sound and the games will finally begin.