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The Best View of Antigua: The Yachting World Round Antigua Race - Saturday, April 26, 2014
The magnificent 94-foot Frers, Bristolian, will be a favourite for line honours this year, although two high performance 52-foot race boats, will provide a two pronged threat. Robert Date's Australian team on Scarlet Runner and the Spanish TP52, Balearia are both capable of finishing first. Bristolian's skipper, John Burnie, has raced around Antigua more times than he can remember:

"The Round Antigua Race has always been a popular event," commented John. "Like its counterpart in the Solent, it is truly iconic - even though it does not have quite as long a history as its UK relative. However, the Round Antigua Race stands as an event in its own right. With the continued sponsorship of Yachting World it rests as a must-do just before Antigua Sailing Week begins.

"There are many technical aspects to the race and the tactics required in some areas are in direct parallel with those required in either the RORC Caribbean 600 or Antigua Sailing Week. The start is under magnificent cliffs, the Pillars of Hercules leading up to Shirley Heights - the course proceeds in an anticlockwise direction. Passing the magnificent reef off Willoughby Bay towards Green Island everyone is looking for the first opportunity of free wind.

"As the fleet rounds the most eastern point, spotting the marks is critical as the crew look for the first spinnaker hoist. It can be a tight reach at first, providing a magnificent 15-mile sail across the northern shores of Antigua. A big gybe is expected once north of Antigua and then a fast reach to the marks clearing the reefs off Dickenson Bay and the harbour of St. John's.

"On a fast reach or run the fleet will see the magnificent rain forest hills rising up to Boggy Peak and tactically the fleet should stay inshore for the flat water of Jolly Harbour and Five Islands. Here the water changes colour dramatically from pale blue in the shallows to a deep azure. Approaching Cades Reef and often much earlier, the wind heads quickly, kites come down and the crew has a tough beat up towards Curtain Bluff to stay out of the current in the deeper water. All too quickly the finish looms and the race is over but the memory of the fascinating course lingers forever.

"The Yachting World Round Antigua Race is indeed a spectacle - and, even though the crews have to concentrate on the technical aspects of the race, there is plenty of opportunity to see the whole island of Antigua in all its magnificence - long may the race continue."

Matt Sheahan, Yachting World Performance Editor, took part last year on Grand Soleil 43, Quokka, which tied for first place with First 40, Lancelot II:

"The perfect length with a variety of tactical issues," summarised Matt Sheahan. "The sprint around Antigua is a superb race in itself but it also provides a great way to shake down the boat and the crew and prepare for Antigua Sailing Week. With legs that are long enough to settle into and without the tight turns of a race around the buoys, the Yachting World Round Antigua Race is a great way to sort out crew work and sail selection in a competitive environment. And at the very least it helps you avoid peaking too soon ashore!"

The elapsed time winner of the Yachting World Round Antigua Race will be awarded the Yachting World Trophy after the race at the awards presentation to be held in conjunction with the Antigua Sailing Week Welcome Party. Prizes will also be awarded to the overall corrected time winner and to winners of 1st through 3rd places in each class.

The Yachting World Round Antigua Race is a standalone event on the Saturday between Antigua Classic Regatta and Antigua Sailing Week - 26th April, 2014. For the Notice of Race and to enter go to www.sailingweek.com

Photo : Paul Wyeth/pwpictures.com

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