A New Approach to Antigua Classics
07 Feb 2019
Carlo Falcone has been competing in the Antigua Classic Yacht Regatta for the last 25 years, racing and winning with his superb vintage 1938 Mylne-designed Fife-built yawl Mariella. In September 2018, Carlo was appointed as the Chairman of Antigua Classics, with a new Steering Committee. Carlo explains some of the changes that will be made for the 2019 Antigua Classic Yacht Regatta:
The Historic Class
“All of the new Steering Committee are sailors who have competed many times in this fantastic event. The idea of the Historic Class came about because I have raced in classic yacht regattas all over the world that allow some of the more recent classic boats to take part and race against each other in their own class. I believe that there are some beautiful boats built or designed before 1976 that are an integral part of the history of classic yachting. Along with Tommy Paterson (Competitor Liaison Officer for Classics) we have counted 35 boats in Antigua alone that are eligible for the Historic Class. We hope that by including them and other similar boats from elsewhere, such as certain Sparkman and Stephens, Nautor’s Swan and Baltic yachts, we will give many of these stunning boats a new lease of classic racing life.
The International Dragon Class
We have re-introduced the Dragon Class into the Antigua Classics and we have eight Petticrow Dragons available for charter. Racing should be very exciting and challenging, particularly with Mike Toppa taking part. Mike is two-time winner of the Antigua Dragon Yacht Club Challenge as well as taking part in seven America’s Cup campaigns as sailor and designer, winning the Auld Mug on two occasions; he races on all different sorts of boats, from One Design to Superyachts. What’s more, the winner of the Dragons Class in 2019 will have his entry fees and charter fees waived in 2020! What’s not to like…
We have sent a special invitation to all members of the International Dragon Class to come and race in the Antigua Classics and are working on the courses. They are classic yachts but they have a high-tech design, so this has to be taken into account, so we will organise a windward leeward course, and possibly one race to join all the other participants.
Changes to the Courses
The most important aspect of Classics is that every sailor enjoys the Regatta, and each and every boat crew is up against great competition on the water. However, because we have so many varying styles of boats competing, different courses would seem to be the answer. If we give exactly the same course to the largest boats, which can be over 200ft, and the smaller boats, which can be under 30ft, one of them is going to be disappointed. So the main difference will now be the length of the course for each class, so that all of the classes will race for roughly the same amount of time. We are also looking at setting windward starts and laying new marks for the Regatta. We are continuing to work on providing the best possible courses for all participants and so far we have been getting a very enthusiastic and encouraging feedback
Here for Sailing
I would like to emphasise that improving the Regatta is part of a long term plan, so that any changes being made are given all due consideration before they are introduced. As a priority, we feel that welcoming new classes, like the Dragons and the Historic Class, is a first essential step in growing the Regatta. In the future, we would love to have the J Class competing with the magnificent schooners and all of the classic superyachts here in Antigua: after all Antigua, is their home in the Caribbean! Antigua Classics would be very happy to discuss what they would prefer in terms of courses for them to both compete in and and enjoy the Regatta.
We have a fantastic Yacht Club, historic Nelson’s Dockyard, beautiful moorings, with amazing sailing conditions. The father of Antigua Classics, Kenny Coombs is sadly missed, but the spirit of Classics is still there: as he said “Everyone here is on the same level, whether you come in flip flops or private jet. We’re here for the sailing.”