We have come here for the Classic Yacht Regatta so we could join the
dock walkers drooling over the acres of polished brass and fresh bright
work. Preparations for the Concours d'Elegance is the subject of our first set of pictures. Original boats from as old as 1898 to recent boats "in the
tradition" of the classic yachts. The gleaming boats are lined up at the Antigua Yacht Club dock for viewing and judging.
These are spectacular works of art and a thrill just to see. Some of the finer boats are pictured here.
The elegant round cockpit of Ticonderoga I actually handled her lines!
The Concours event is followed by three races off Antigua on each of the following three days. We ran into Skip Eaton at the Antigua Yacht Club who said we could come crew on his boat if we got there early in the morning. He didn't have to ask twice.
Even the Dinghies are beautiful!
It turns out the best fun to be had is not viewing the event from up on Shirley
Heights but participating in the race! We joined Skip and Barbara Eaton
of Ragnar, a 44' French pilot boat Gaff Schooner built and flagged in
Germany in 2002 from a 1910 design.
This 25 ton wooden craft was
designed for heavy winds and seas and so we were not very competitive
in the light winds of the first race. It took nearly an hour to get
over the start line while the Committee boat started the faster classes
at 15 minute intervals. We all ended up milling around chatting until
the lighter boats started responding the freshening breezes and moved
slowly down the triangular course. Ragnar just made it in 10 minutes
before the 6 hour deadline and her exhausted crew collapsed shortly
after sunset missing all the partying sponsored by Mount Gay Rum. This
probably gave us the advantage on race 2 where crews sporting the red
caps purchased at the cost of 3 rums consumed were looking a little
grey. The best day was the 3rd and last race, the "Cannonball" which was due south to a mark placed 6 miles out - a reach on the prevailing easterly trades. It was a staggered start so every boat got to see each other coming and going. It is a real thrill seeing some well matched J- Class Yachts charging down on you with huge crew in matching uniforms hiked out under massive clouds of sail. When you've had your wind stolen by Eleonora, a 136' Nat Herreshoff Gaff Schooner, you are becalmed. The big boats such as Ranger, Eleonora, Altair, Aschanti IV and Ticonderoga have big professional crews and take the racing very seriously. The rest of us can relax after the races and enjoy the plummy British spit and polish at a distance. There is a charming graciousness about the race committee and the stately parade through Nelson's Dockyard in English Harbor. But seeing (and feeling) the spray flying from these grand old ladies pressed under all possible sail in the indigo seas under brilliant blue skies is a thrill of a lifetime.
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Viewing Eleonora from Ragnar
Ranger passing by with adequate crew