The Oyster fleet was fully powered up, with white water hissing past the rail, sunshine sparkling in the spray, and close to 30 degrees of air temperature. The wind strength eased in the latter part of the race, with the teams finding the best breeze improving their overall performance. The third race of the regatta was a passage race starting from outside Five Islands Harbour to a finish at Rendezvous Bay. Race Officer Ben Mobley and Alan Brook set a 13.5-mile course for Class 3, with a top mark off Falmouth Harbour, and a short downwind leg to finish off Rendezvous Bay. Classes 1 & 2 raced had a 19.5-mile course which included, shortly after the start, an additional six nautical mile leeward-windward section.
Henrik Nyman's Swedish Oyster 745 Pitanga put in a great performance to take Line Honours for the class and the race win on corrected time by over six minutes. The best start was by Oyster 82 Starry Night of the Caribbean, skippered by Roger Whyld. Starry Night was always a threat during the three-hour race but finished second. Sir Richard Matthews' British Oyster 82 Midnight completed the podium. Going into the last race tomorrow, Pitanga is just 0.25 points ahead of Midnight. However, the discard rule will apply after four races, giving Pitanga a commanding position.
Ed Rumble's American Oyster 625 Black Lion scored their first win of the regatta to set a three-way tie for the class, the winner-take-all decider will be Race 4. Black Lion took Line Honours for Race 3 just four minutes ahead of today's best starter, British Oyster 655 Sotto Vento, sailed by Richard Smith. John McTigue's at the helm of his American Oyster 625 Irish Blessing was third.
Davis and Bishop's Oyster 655 Meteorite was fourth for the race just ten seconds behind Irish Blessing after time correction. Hugh & Janice Bishop and Debbie & Andy Davis sailed Meteorite in the Oyster World Rally and it has been an emotional return to Antigua, where the great adventure started two years ago.
“The Oyster Regatta is great, we are not scoring as well as some of the more competitive teams but we are winning hands down in terms of fun factor!”, laughed Hugh Bishop. “Coming back to Antigua where we set off around the world does make you reflect on the incredible adventure”, commented Andy Davis. “I am not an emotional guy but I must admit to the feelings welling up now, especially as there are so many Oyster World Rally sailors crewing in the regatta, and these people are our friends for life.”
David Pedley's British Oyster 56 Sea Flute scored their second win of the regatta, retaining the lead for the class and establish a strong position to win the regatta. Joakim Furusten Swedish Oyster 56 Bliss got the best start but was runner-up today. Chilean Oyster 46 Solway Mist, sailed by Christian Pazaro, was fourth.
John Rutherford is racing his Oyster 45 Degree of Latitude at the Oyster Regatta Antigua. John is a past Rear-Commodore of the Royal Southern Yacht Club and Degree of Latitude crossed the Atlantic with the ARC last December. “People should go to faraway places, and I chose an Oyster because the boat gives you great confidence because of the build quality, also Oyster's after-sales service is second to none. The survey supplied when I purchased the boat was extremely well documented. Having people like Eddie Scougall here in Antigua is a real bonus because we get advice from a real expert. We have been cruising in the Southern Caribbean before the regatta, as far down as Tobago Cays, which has been absolutely fabulous, and we will be flying the flag for the Royal Southern later this month at Antigua Sailing Week.”
After the passage race, the Oyster Fleet returned to Nelson's Dockyard for the daily prize giving, which was held inside the Copper and Lumber Hotel with Jenny Hadida awarding the prizes. Sea Flute's Tom Pedley went up to collect the race prize and the Oyster Family sang Happy Birthday, a touching gesture. A Caribbean Barbecue was served with music supplied by an acoustic set from superb Antiguan guitarist Joshu. Racing at the Oyster Antigua Regatta will conclude tomorrow Friday 12th April with the fourth and final race of the series.