Tactical battle on the south side
4 Fenruary 2017
conditions had mellowed somewhat for the second day of the
Superyacht Challenge Antigua, compared to the opening day's surfing
festival. 15 knots from the east, with a moderate swell, and
predominately tactical windward leeward racing, put other skill sets
to the test. Staying in clear air and executing text book tacks and
gybes were the keys to success. Day Two was the powerplay, with two
of the four races taking place. In the Buccaneers Class, Acadia and
Kawil shared a win each to set up a big finale tomorrow. In the
Corsairs Class, Spiip now has a three point cushion, but with no
discard, the class is far from over.
The second race of the regatta was about 12 miles, along the stunning South Coast of Antigua. A novel downwind start was followed by a tactical long beat, and a short reach to finish.
Acadia was first to the bottom mark and extended in clear air, while Zig Zag and several other yachts were caught by the traffic from the faster boats in the Corsairs Class. Kawil sailed a great line out of the way of the overtaking Corsairs, to take the lead from Arcadia, and Kawil took the gun, by just 15 seconds. However, after ORCsy time correction, Acadia was the winner. Wild Horses showed impressive speed to pass Zig Zag, and claim third after time correction.
Adela was an impressive sight at full pace reaching across the line to hold the lead at the bottom mark. However on the second leg, Spiip showed her prowess upwind passing Adela and on the approach to Nelson's, Adela tacked away. Nilaya and Danneskjold managed to get past Adela at the penultimate mark. However, Nilaya retired shortly after racing, promoting Danneskjold to second place, and Elfje to third.
The third race of the regatta was about 12 miles. A short beat was followed by a long tactical downwind leg, with a big gybe offshore to reach back towards Antigua, followed by a beat to finish.
After the short beat to the first mark, the magnificent fleet hoisted spinnakers for a downwind run. The big tactical call was made by Acadia, executing two text book gybes into clear air. The move put them into the lead for the gybe mark but Arcadia was pressed all the way by Kawil. The two yachts rounded in unison, for the last leg, a beat to the finish. Acadia crossed the line just in front of Kawil to take the gun and the win after ORCsy time correction. Oyster 82, Zig Zag was third.
A stunning match race concluded the day's racing in the Corsair Class, Nilaya and Spiip are both sailed by well drilled teams and share the same water line length and just 28 second separated the two after over an hour of racing. The twin mastered schooner Adela held the lead on the water right up until the penultimate mark. However, Adela was no match for the powerful sloops on the short tacking beat to finish. Nilaya took the race win by the finest of margins from Spiip with the 105ft sloop Danneskjold third. After three days of racing, just a single point separates the top two yachts in the Buccaneers Class, Kawil holds the advantage over Acadia, with Wild Horses in third, just a point ahead of Zig Zag.
America's Cup and Olympic sailor, Andy Horton, tactician on Acadia, is delighted with the team's performance.
“Acadia is a new yacht and this is the first time that the owner has raced her and he is grinning all the way around the course. We have some really top guys in key positions; Will Beavis on the front, Justin Slattery in the pit and Steve Hayles on nav, and the regular crew are excellent sailors who are really up for the challenge. We said before the regatta, if we have a chance of winning on the last day, we have over achieved, so we are all very happy and motivated for a good finish tomorrow.”
In the Corsairs Class, Spiip holds a three point advantage over Nilaya, who is only ahead of Danneskjold by virtue of countback. Adela holds a single point advantage of Elfje, in the battle of the schooners. Volvo Ocean Race and Super Series navigator, Campbell Field, is racing on Spiip and knows the boat well having sailed her for the previous owner for ten years.
“The ORCsy rule takes into account the different strengths of the wide variety of yachts competing and it does a pretty good job of it. Today, was a good day for the sloops, but with your rating altered to take that into account, you are only rewarded if you sail well. Most of the guys on board have been racing this yacht for about ten years, and as this regatta is early in the season, perhaps that is an advantage. The nice thing about the Superyacht Challenge Antigua is that it is great racing but ashore it is very relaxed. All the guys know each other and if there is a discussion it happens on the dock and we don't take it into the social scene. Last nights Cook Off was such a great occasion, it is things like that that make the regatta stand out.”
The social activity for Saturday night involved yet more colourful pageantry with the Caribbean Night held in the historic surroundings of Nelson's Dockyard. The grills were fired up after complimentary sundowners and the Superyacht Dock was filled with competitors enjoying the cool evening air after a long day on the water. The Loud Shirt competition, and the exciting display of local dancers, produced a kaleidoscope of colours, with a sound set pumping out cool tunes and dance music long into the night.
With one final race scheduled on Sunday 5 February and no race discarded, it is all to play for at the Superyacht Challenge. Watch the drama unfold from Shirley Heights from 1100 local time, or tune in around the world via the internet, at 1500 UTC, to watch the dedicated tracker.