Thrills & Spills in the Yachting World Round Antigua Race

Start of Yachting World Round Antigua Trophy Credit: Tim Wright/

There was drama right from the start of the 2012 Yachting World Round Antigua Race.

Squally conditions intensified the trade winds to churn up the swell into a foaming powerful sea state with rogue waves reaching over three metres. The feisty conditions off the coast of Antigua caused at least two retirements due to gear failure.

Hermosita suffered a damaged rudder and Blackbird was another casualty. The Mini Maxi suffered a ripped mainsail as the mighty yacht pounded through the surf. This was much to the frustration of the crew including our colleague and Editor at Yachting World, David Glenn who had joined Blackbird for the day.

The Yachting World Round Antigua Race was quite an experience for the crew of Smile and Wave, as Jaime Torres explains: “Mario Martinez is skipper for the week and our only real preparation for this race was to sail to the start line, but the team did exceptionally well. However, I didn’t take into account Sunken Rock off Indian Creek and as a result we hit.

Nobody was hurt and we continued racing, but the error let Lancelot get away and we could only match them for speed downwind around the windward side. However, we played the shifts well on the beat to finish and managed to make a big gain. I have to say I am really looking forward to Sailing Week, I am sure we are going to have a great battle with Lancelot.

Sojana got a great start and powered away upwind as a torrent of spray engulfed the magnificent ketch’s bow. Working the maneuvers on Sojana is a skillful and hugely energetic team effort, which is fraught with danger and later in the race that peril was to manifest itself in no uncertain terms.

Sojana had a cracking race, touching close to 20 knots of boat speed down the windward side of Antigua. Crew work had to be slick, even on a long race, corners come up alarmingly fast and with pressure loads measured in tens of tons, even a small error can be a real problem. One hyper gust sent Sojana’s enormous spinnaker bellowing to leeward, the main sail boom perilously close to digging a sizeable whirlpool into the hissing blue water, the big ketch was pushing hard.

With just nine miles to go, Sojana needed to average 10 knots to break the record when foredeck crew Maurice Belgrave fell off the bow to leeward. With Pol Ho-Jensen at the helm, Sojana pulled off a text book recovery. Without using the engine, Maurice was in the water for less than five minutes before the bow crew plucked him to safety, pulling Maurice out of the water and up a full three metres of freeboard. Apart from a small gash, he was unharmed in the incident, which is a credit to the entire crew of Sojana.

Despite Sojana’s excellent efforts, on corrected time Passion 4C won by just over two minutes with Sojana second with Locura third. The trimaran, Paradox blistered around the 55 mile course in 4hrs 15mins 39 seconds.

After the prizegiving for the Yachting World Round Antigua Race, the Antigua Sailing Week Welcome Party kicked off in Nelson’s Dockyard. Hon. John Maginley MP, Minister of Tourism joined the Antigua Sailing Week organisers in welcoming competitors to the 45th regatta.

With the official English Harbour Rum caps being distributed and entertainment courtesy of the Vision Band and DJ Prebble, a fantastic night was in store of all.