Thursday, August 8, 2020, English Harbour, Antigua: The Antigua Yacht Racing Calendar is purportedly one of the most all-encompassing, challenging and competitive on the Caribbean Yacht Racing circuit. From a position just over 10 years ago when Antigua Classic Yacht Regatta and Antigua Sailing Week were the bookend to the Caribbean calendar, in the last eleven years the addition of a Superyacht event and the now infamous RORC Caribbean 600 has meant that every campaigning yacht, race charter, Caribbean boat and privately owned cruiser and racer has a reason to come to Antigua at least once each season.
New in 2020 the Superyacht Challenge Antigua will own a new slot in the calendar from March 11-15. “The change in date is better for all sorts of reasons including the fact that around the old date in late January, accommodation in English Harbour is very much in demand. Next year the regatta will be held just before St. Barths Bucket, when many superyachts are already in race mode, and they can come and have a regatta with us before the bucket.” commented Paul Deeth. The format of racing and parties will be the same but we also have a provision to include a Round Antigua Race, should conditions permit.” The 10th Anniversary edition of the Superyacht is set to be a record breaking one with 15 yachts including 5 J-class yachts expressing interest in attending.
For the Antigua Classic Yacht Regatta, the date has jumped to an earlier slot of April 1-7 to allow more boats to attend the regatta before leaving the region for the season. Alongside that, the new race starts off at Rendezvous Beach and will add some variety to the race courses with the second year of the Dragon Challenge being included, all making for an exciting year.
The RORC Caribbean 600 keeps its February slot and racing manager Chris Stone. “The 600nm course sees more than 30 nations competing. The race starts and finishes in Antigua and threads around 11 Caribbean Islands, but the committee is examining options to reverse the course. After 10 years we think it is important to set the next challenge for the new and returning sailors.” The race starts on 24 February with a final prize giving, on 28 February. It will be preceded by the Antigua 360, a great opportunity for crews to test the boat prior to the 600.
Aside from a number of fun, one to three day events including the Budget Marina High Tide Series, a number of Round Antigua Races and the Nelsons Pursuit, plus the Valentine’s Regatta in Jolly Harbour, the end of the season is still bookmarked by Antigua Sailing Week. A separate day of racing in the Peters and May Round Antigua Race takes place on Saturday, April 25, 2019 and is open to all classes and boats whether racing in Antigua Sailing Week or not and then is followed by five competitive days of idyllic Caribbean racing off the South coast of Antigua. Taking place from Sunday. April 26 – May 3, 2020 the regatta will see the second year of the double-handed class and the new courses off Rendezvous which were so popular in 2019. Additionally new courses off the Windward committee boat will offer up a new challenge. Back on land legendary ASW parties including the now infamous Reggae in the Park will be the icing on the cake of an amazing week-long event on and off the water.
For both ASW and the RORC Caribbean 600 a huge choice of bareboat charter (for ASW) and race charter boats for both events make these regattas easy to fly in and race. President of the Antigua and Barbuda Marine Association (ABMA) Franklyn Braithwaite says, “Antigua has grown exponentially in the last few years into the start and end of season shipping hub for the region, with many campaigning yachts basing out of Antigua for the entire season.” He continues, “ Added to the already exemplary list of services on offer around the harbours we look forward to welcoming everyone back for the 2020 season.”
Starting on May 6 the absolute finale to the season will see the 4th Antigua to Bermuda Race begin from Fort Charlotte in English Harbour. The 900 nm race brings boat safely in company to Bermuda before the start of the busy Newport and Solent seasons.
Earlier in the season arrivals of rowers competing in the Talisker Whiskey Atlantic Challenge offer an exciting entertainment option. Hundreds of well-wishers gather in UNESCO designated Nelson’s Dockyard National Park to welcome home the many boats no matter what time of day or night, which adds to the nautical and festival like atmosphere that is prevalent for the entire season.
For more information and to see the complete list of yachting and marine events visit www.abma.ag