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Countdown to Antigua Sailing Week 2010

With just four days remaining before the start of 43rd edition of Antigua Sailing Week (24-30 April 2010), there is still a consistent stream of entries coming in. While numbers at this stage of countdown are lower than in previous years, there is no doubt that what the entry list lacks in quantity it makes up in quality. Some of the biggest names in yacht racing are heading to this premier regatta, which is rated as one of the best events in the Caribbean.

For many of the crews on the biggest yachts competing such Niklas Zennstrom’s 72-footer Ran, Ron O'Hanley’s Farr/Cookson 50 Privateer, Tom Hill’s custom Reichel/Pugh 75 Titan 15, and Austin Fragomen’s JV TP52 Interlodge, races like next Sunday’s Yachting World Around the Island Race are regarded as the ultimate in ocean racing. Guaranteed sparkling crystal clear, turquoise water, coupled with warm trade winds and plenty of close tactical competition as they head round the beautiful beach-strewn coastline of Antigua, is the sort of challenge that sets Antigua Sailing Week apart from other regattas.

Those on the start line next Saturday for the opening race of this seven-day Caribbean classic will be reassured to learn that Dave Brennan, the highly respected international race officer, will be calling the shots as PRO in the Racing Division for the duration of the week.

Brennan, who is race officer at some of the other major regattas in the world such as Key West Race Week, Etchells South Atlantic Championship, the International Rolex Regatta, St Thomas, and who has also signed up for the next VOR stopover in Miami, said he was thrilled to be asked to cover ASW. He is bringing his old friend Dick Neville to run the Cruising Division while he concentrates on the Racing Division. Commenting on the regatta, Brennan said: “Antigua Sailing Week is the granddaddy of all the regattas in the Caribbean with a rich history and tradition.”

Chatting about how he intends to run the racing, Brennan continued: “I grew up in the old school of yacht racing when race committees didn’t talk to the sailors and vice versa. The courses and classes were displayed with signal flags which made the signal boat look like a Chinese laundry. There was a lot of unnecessary confusion. Today I work very hard on communicating my intentions to the sailors. We normally start with a short VHF communication on the various designated VHF regatta channels at our harbour start before the signal boat leaves the dock. We let the sailors know what is going to be expected of them that day, such as that they may be kept ashore if there is no wind, or the number of expected races for example.

“Once on the water at our designated start areas Dick Neville [Cruising Division] and I [Racing Division] will share as much information that we think the competitors may need to know, to help them make decisions about their racing that day. The basic course information will also be posted in clear English on dry marker boards for everyone to see but the ability to share that information on the VHF radio makes it easier for everyone.”

Back on shore, Antigua’s party scene is also legendary with events such as the Dickenson Bay beach bash and, this year for the first time ever, the English Harbour Rum Street Party on the Tuesday night where competitors and visitors to the island will experience traditional Antiguan hospitality at its best and a taste of Antigua Carnival.

The schedule for Antigua Sailing Week starts with Race 1 of the Ocean Series – the Guadeloupe to Antigua Race – on Friday April 23, with racing for ASW series kicking off on Saturday afternoon following an early morning breakfast briefing at Antigua Yacht Club. The Yachting World Around the Island Race (Race 2 of the Ocean Series) is on Sunday 25 April, and the Round Redonda Race (Race 3 of the Ocean Series) takes place on Wednesday 28 April (lay day).

For regular, updated information, racing schedule, and to secure a place on the start line of Antigua Sailing Week and the Ocean Series 2010 go to www.sailingweek.com. The race organisers have decided to extend the closing date for entries until Wednesday 21 April, so there is still plenty of time to enter.

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