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Jol Byerley's Apr 06 Letter from Antigua

So just exactly what is the Wobbly Club? Well until I asked myself this question, I have to admit I did not have the foggiest idea. So trying to be a good boy, just the other day I called no lesser person than John Nobbs. Of Australian descent and now skippering his own yacht, he is the power behind the throne of the Wobbly Club. Now, John and his wife Fran came to Antigua in 1996, at which time he was skipper of the beautiful blue Nirvana. He left Australia in 1981 and ran various boats. John was a sail maker and rigger, and worked for Peter Morton (an Admirals Cup rigger in Poole U.K.) Then in the year 2000 they came back to Antigua with their own boat, an Australian built cold molded 46 foot Sparkman and Stephens design called Queequeg, after a character in Herman Melville’s Moby Dick.

Anyway, we still need to know why is it called the Wobbly Club? It turns out that one day in 2002 John and Fran were asked to decorate the Christmas tree at Hugh Bailey’s Catamarina where some of the smartest boats in Antigua are permently berthed. Now being a practical sort of bloke and not having access to a ladder, John found a very wobbly table on which he planned to stand. By this time several other friends such as Neville Holloway, Richard Tillotson and Charles Shawcraft were helping him and supplying copious refreshments. Then along came Hugh Bailey’s long time lady friend and partner Helen, and John decided to see if those assembled might be interested in forming a loosely knit club to organize some extremely “loosely knit racing”. Soon, this came about and since then there have been some good fun events, all of which have raised the eye brows of the more traditional yachtsmen at the Antigua Yacht Club on the other side of the bay.

But the culmination of all has been the “Build Your Own Boat” competition, followed by a race around the Catamarina dock. The rules for this race are pretty strict. Two and a half hours are given to all competitors to complete the building. Then the boats are carried by their crews to a nearby beach just to windward of the Catamarina. Then, the Grand Admiral of the Wobbly Club, the aforementioned Helen blows the starting signal and the boats are launched. It should be mentioned here that these “ boats” have cost a maximum of 100. EC dollars and have been stitched and glued together into whatever shape is the easiest. So it’s hardly surprising that many sink out on the course. This is sufficiently amusing to rivet the likes of well known author Don Street, who for the first time actually clutched a Carib beer instead of his regulation Heineken whilst the race was in progress. Don’s after race comment was “this was really a lot of fun and let’s have a lot more like it”. Whether he was talking about the beer or the entertainment I can’t really say. So, a lot of the boats did cross the line and sadly some didn’t. The next Wobbly Club event is for yacht tenders (dinghies ) without engines. This is planned  for sometime in April and is really worth seeing.

This year’s winners ( if that’s the right word) were;

1st Kamikaze, built and crewed by Woodstock.

2nd Baloolinka, by yacht Melinka.

3rd DeNada, by Woodstock.

Concourse de Elegance. ( Build and Presentation)

1st SOJUNIOR Yacht SOJANA

2nd PARTY BOAT Yachts Kurtah and Steadfast.

1st Sailing boat

Betherfloat.Built by Chippy.

I loved it, the huge crowd loved it and the competitors probably did. Long live the Wobbly Club !!

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