Antigua, May 12, 2017: The inaugural 935 nautical mile Antigua Bermuda Race started on time with the entire fleet getting away without a hitch. A light southerly breeze of 10 knots and warm Antiguan sunshine provided perfect conditions. The variety pack of 21 yachts is an eclectic collection, both in terms of crew and craft. From the majestic schooner, Eleonora to the pocket rocket Pogo 12.50s, and just about everything in between. The fleet includes ocean racers; new and old, as well as bluewater cruisers raced by passionate corinthians. The entire fleet started together and the Antigua Bermuda Race was born.
In the first hour of the race, American Volvo 70, Warrior, skippered by Stephen Murray Jr. had opened up a two mile lead on the chasing Swans, Don Macpherson's Swan 90, Freya and British Swan 82, Stay Calm. The breeze then backed to the east putting the fleet on a beam reach. Freya unleashed their gigantic masthead Code Zero to flash past Warrior who had forsaken their Code Zero and J1 to reduce their rating. Underpowered, Warrior was no match for the additional sail area and waterline length of Freya. Swan 82, Stay Calm was going well and estimated to be leading the race after time correction, for both IRC and CSA, but there is a long way to go. Simon & Nancy De Pietro's Irish CNB 76, Lilla was revelling in the reaching conditions and also going extremely well.
Skippers from boats representing nine different nations competing in the first Antigua Bermuda Race organised by the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club in association with Antigua Sailing Week, gathered together for a race briefing held in the historic restored Officer’s Quarter building at Nelson’s Dockyard where the victor of the battle of Trafalgar, Admiral Lord Nelson was based from 1784 to 1787.
With the intention of making the race into an annual event and a firm fixture on the international sailing calendar, Les Crane, Race Chair and PRO, Stephen Parry welcomed skippers and navigators to the Race Briefing before the start from Fort Charlotte, Antigua on Friday 12th May.
It was then time for everyone to swap stories, get to know each other and relax at the Welcome Party for crews, held on the lawns of the Copper & Lumber Store Hotel overlooking English Harbour. Following a busy day of boat preparation, provisioning and last-minute checks before the 935 nautical mile race, sponsor, Goslings Rum provided a taste of what was to come once in Bermuda. Dark ‘n Stormy and Rum Swizzle cocktails were served to over 230 crews from around the world as a lively band played at the Antigua Bermuda Race Welcome Party. All are looking forward to the race tomorrow and to heading offshore after a fantastic welcome in Antigua.