Race Officer Ben Mobley and Alan Brook chose exciting courses with fabulous vistas along the South Coast of Antigua. Starting right on time in Rendezvous Bay, Classes 1 & 2 were given a 19-mile course with a deep watermark off Shirley Heights as their top mark. Class 3 were given a 13-mile course with a top mark just outside Falmouth Bay. Both classes sailed to a bottom mark off the stunning Cades Reef, with teams dousing spinnakers just off Antigua's natural underwater park. After rounding Legacy to starboard inside Carlisle Bay, the final beat to finish was back to Rendezvous Bay.
After about three hours of heaven-sent racing, the Oyster fleet returned to English Harbour, eager for results. A Dock Party was held at the Superyacht Dock, resplendent with fine examples of Oyster Yachts. A vibrant steel band played a joyful tune during the prize giving, with Caribbean delicacies on offer including: Lobster Roti, Trinidad style Doubles, and other tempting Caribbean delicacies. Jenny Hadida and Lewmar Tech Support Co-ordinator Toby Price, awarded the Race One prizes.
Swedish Oyster 745 Pitanga, sailed by Henrik Nyman, started the regatta with a win by just under two minutes after time correction from Oyster 82 Starry Night of the Caribbean, skippered by Roger Whyld. Sir Richard Matthews' British Oyster 82 Midnight completed the podium and got the best start in the big boat class.
“The name of the yacht Pitanga is one of my daughter’s favourite words. It's pretty cool for an eight-year-old to see that name on a beautiful boat,” commented Henrik Nyman. “When we race Pitanga the crew are sailors that I have met through taking courses, and from sailing locations around the world. But most of the time we cruise our Oyster with the family, we have visited some wonderful locations; Sardinia, Ischia, and the islands of Sicily, and we plan to take Pitanga back across the Atlantic to explore the Greek Islands. I work in Brazil, where the cities are so crowded, coming out sailing Pitanga is a great relief from what can be a stressful life. Previously we had an Oyster 625, but what we really like about the 745 is the size and layout of the galley, and the additional areas, especially the spacious aft deck. We have found that the bathing platform is excellent for a small dining table, it is an intimate place to dine with a superb view and atmosphere.”
Oyster World Rally participant Wolfram Birkel, racing his German Oyster 625 Red Cat got the best start in Race One. However Richard Smith, sailing British Oyster 655 Sotto Vento put in a stellar performance to win the opening race by just over two minutes from two American Oyster 625s. John McTigue's Irish Blessing took second place by just 43 seconds from Ed Rumble's Black Lion.
Richard Smith sailed Sotto Vento in the 2013-14 Oyster World Rally, and has competed at over 20 Oyster Regattas. “Sotto Vento is often in Antigua and this year for the regatta I have a great crew of friends from home, and members of the Antigua Yacht Club, which I have recently joined. Sailing is a great sport for making good friends!” smiled Richard Smith. “We sailed well today, making just a few small mistakes, it was very exciting and close racing in beautiful conditions.”
Ian Galbraith's Oyster 53 Jigsaw got the best start in Class 3. However, the biggest cheer at the prize giving was for David Pedley's Oyster 56 Sea Flute, which has just completed the Oyster World Rally. The team celebrated in style by winning the first race of the regatta. Simon Brown's Oyster 56 Britican held off a strong challenge from John Rutherford's Oyster 45 Degree of Latitude to take second place by just over a minute. Joakim Furusten Oyster 56 Bliss by just 23 seconds from making the podium.
Below is an extract from Lindy's blog from Sea Flute during the Oyster World Rally, giving just a taste of the amazing journey as they explored the Galapagos Islands in the Pacific Ocean:
“As if the Galapagos hadn't already blown our minds, it sent a pod of forty or so pilot whales and five sperm whales to keep us company for part of our journey. They came right up to the boat riding on our stern wave, and were all around us, we didn't know where to look. We were like a gaggle of school kids whooping and laughing in our excitement!” Lindy - Sea Flute (April 2017).
The 2019 Oyster Antigua Regatta continues with the second race of the series on Tuesday 9th April. A longer passage race is in store for the Oyster fleet destined for the stunning Five Islands Harbour on the West Coast of Antigua.