07 - 12 April 2014

Oyster Regatta Antigua 2014

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07th April 2014

Introduction

An impressive fleet of 35 Oyster yachts, flying the flags of Brazil, Germany, Ireland, Netherlands, Russia, Spain, Sweden, United Kingdom and the United States of America have gathered in Antigua, West Indies for the 33rd Oyster Regatta.

Following the conclusion of the Oyster World Rally, the beginning of the Oyster Regatta and more Oyster Yachts cruising in Antigua, there are 60 Oyster Yachts currently in Antigua. The largest collection of Oysters in the 40 year history of Oyster Yachts. Nelson's Dockyard in English Harbour is the hub for the regatta and 12 different examples of the distinctive Oyster range are dockside. Oyster owners, their families and guests are looking forward to an exclusive sailing event blended with fabulous parties at some of the island's best locations.

The Oyster Regatta Antigua six-day programme includes four days of racing on the spectacular coastline of the south and east coast line of Antigua. Warm Trade Winds and ocean swell combine with amazing scenery to provide one of the world's finest sailing locations.

Oyster regattas are organised exclusively for owners and their guests and besides well-managed racing, the fleet benefits from Oyster's renowned customer service and technical support, provided by experienced Oyster staff and their regatta partners; Dolphin Sails, Lewmar, Pantaenius, Pelagos Yachts, Formula Masts, Raymarine, Reckman and Yachting World.

The Georgia dock at English Harbour is a hive of activity today, as owners and crews meticulously prepare their yachts for the Concours d'Elegance judging. Fabulous social events are a key feature of every Oyster Regatta and tonight's Cocktail Party at The Admiral's Inn will be a fitting venue, flanked by the magnificent Oyster fleet.Racing starts on Tuesday 8th April with a coastal race finishing in Carlisle Bay. After racing the Oyster fleet will anchor off the exclusive Carlisle Bay Resort. Set between tropical rainforest and powder-soft sands, over 250 Oyster owners and guests will enjoy a Cocktail Party and BBQ Buffet dinner.

Written by Louay Habib
Images by Kevin Johnson

09th April 2014

Race Day One

Spectacular Start.

The first day of racing at the Oyster Regatta Antigua, sponsored by Dolphin Sails, will be long remembered for spectacular sailing conditions. A solid 15 knots of breeze from the east built to over 20 knots during the race along the stunning south east coast line of Antigua. At the start, the magnificent 35-strong Oyster fleet powered to windward, swapping tacks. The yachts turned downwind to experience classic Trade Wind sailing with the majestic fleet surfing on Caribbean swell, followed by another tactical beat along the awe-inspiring Cades Reef and on to the finish outside Carlisle Bay.

“With numerous tacking and gybing, whilst reading the lifts and shifts, it was a testing day.” Commented Oyster Yachts CEO and Race Officer, David Tydeman. “In the lively conditions, it was a day for the larger yachts with deep keels, especially on the first windy beat up to Shirley Heights. On the long run, the choice of running deep under spinnaker, or poled out headsail, looked like a winning tactic and those yachts that ventured inside Cades Reef made great gains on the last upwind leg. It was a race for the strategists today and boat handling came into the fore but what a sight to see; 35 Oysters racing on one of the most exciting race tracks in the world.”

In Class One, Paul and Penny Brewer's British Oyster 100, Penelope revelled in the big breeze to take line honours for the class and the win on corrected time but only just, Irish Oyster 885 Lush with Eddie Jordan on board, pushed hard the whole way around the course and it was only a small mistake on the last leg that cost Lush dearly. “That was a real blast!” explained Lush’s Captain, Paul Adamson. “Lush was really lit up but in a tricky last beat, we mistimed one tack and that was enough for us to slip back to second. Tomorrow's another day and if it is anything like the first day, we are in for a real treat!.” Third in Class and top Oyster 82 was regatta veteran, Starry Night of the Caribbean.

In Class Two, there was an epic encounter between two Oyster 625s. Wolfram Birkel's Red Cat was making its racing debut and the German Oyster 625 scorched through the starting line in style. However, Russian Oyster 625, Lady Mariposa started the regatta, where they left off at the last Oyster Regatta in Palma, Mallorca by winning the race. After time correction, Lady Mariposa took the prize by just six seconds. Russian owner/driver Maxim Kudryashov, racing Guardian Angel, made it a trio of Oyster 625s on the Class Two podium by claiming third place.

Class Three provided an incredibly close finish, with just three minutes separating the elapsed time of the top five boats. Eric Alfredson's Swedish Oyster 53, Lisanne elected to sail with white sails only and produced a text-book performance to win the class on corrected time from Joachim and Rolf Riel's German Oyster 56, Mariela. Harvey and Sue Death's, Oyster 56, Sarabi was placed third after time correction.

After racing the Oyster fleet enjoyed one of Antigua's most sophisticated locations, a beach party and BBQ buffet at Carlisle Bay Resort. Much of the fleet moored in the bay, their mast head lights glowing at sea formed a beautiful back drop to a wonderful location. The chic resort with its own signature style gives Carlisle Bay an attractive, well-groomed elegance and the Oyster owners, family and guests enjoyed cocktails on the beach followed by a succulent buffet.

Mike Hahn, owner of American Oyster 655, Matawai summed up the first day at the regatta, enjoying a cold beer after racing. “We can definitely improve our performance and I love the competition but these regattas are also about having some fun and we certainly had a lot of that today. Sailing with my son and friends is what I really enjoy the most and we had a great sail bringing the boat down here from the BVI and as always we had a great atmosphere on board. Personally I learn so much about sailing Matawai at these events and it is great to meet up with such a great crowd that these regattas seems to always seem to attract.”

Written by Louay Habib
Images by Kevin Johnson

10th April 2014

Race Day Two

Sunshine and Smiles.

Day Two, 2014 Oyster Regatta Antigua.

The second race day at the Oyster Regatta Antigua, sponsored by Lewmar was blessed with sunshine and breeze. The magnificent Oyster fleet enjoyed superb racing conditions along Cades Reef on the south coast of Antigua. The downwind start had pulses racing and spinnakers flying and a windward leeward course provided plenty of close quarters action for the Oyster fleet, although gentlemanly conduct prevailed.

In Class One, British Oyster 100, Penelope continued its winning streak by taking line honours and the win on corrected time for the second day in succession. Tactician, Jeremy Robinson was quick to praise the crew. “On a yacht of this size, manoeuvres need to be perfect and the crew-work over the last two days has been impressive. Penelope has been right up on target speed and her owners Paul and Penny Brewer have been delighted with the performance.”

Oyster 885, Lush with Eddie Jordan at the helm, took second place by just over a minute and Dario Galvao's Brazilian Oyster 655, Rocas sailed well to take third. Starry Night of the Caribbean was fourth and top Oyster 82, for the second day in a row.

Wolfram Birkel, owner of German Oyster 625 Red Cat, was a very happy man having won his first race in his new boat. “We were so close to winning yesterday but we made a few mistakes. Red Cat is a new boat for us and we are still getting used to her but today we put our experience into practice and sailed Red Cat in a much better fashion. I am so delighted to win my first race in an Oyster Regatta and keen to celebrate with my crew.”

Red Cat was the victor in Class Two, Maxim Kudryashov's Russian Oyster 625, Guardian Angel was second and a great performance by Chris Glossop's British Oyster 575, Dreamer of Hamble was third.

David and Joanne Furby's Oyster 625, Vamos of Portsmouth had a problem at the start but recovered well to get right back in the mix, especially downwind with their resplendent red spinnaker expertly trimmed. The crew from the south of England enjoyed some close quarter racing with other yachts. “You learn so much about driving the boat at an Oyster Regatta.” commented David Furby. “Sailing on the wind really tests your ability to steer the boat correctly and downwind under spinnaker requires a different approach, I have a lot to learn but I am improving all the time.”

Class Three provided an epic duel between two British Oysters, Tony Keal's Oyster 54, Wolfhound and Harvey and Sue Death's Oyster 56, Sarabi. The two yachts were evenly matched for speed around the course and after over three hours of racing Wolfhound crossed the line just a boat length ahead of Sarabi to take the gun and the win after time correction. Joachim and Rolf Riel's German Oyster 56, Mariela had another consistent day placing third.

After racing the Oyster fleet enjoyed a private party at one of Antigua's most famous locations. Shirley Heights is visited by thousands of party-goers every year. The view from Shirley Heights Lookout is without question the most famous on the beautiful island of Antigua and the 300 strong Oyster family was treated to a glorious sunset accompanied by a traditional steel band.

Oyster CEO, David Tydeman and Race Officer for the regatta welcomed the Oyster family to Shirley Heights and gave prizes for Race Two. “The course today was another testing one with a downwind start and boats sailing closer to one another and I would applaud the yachts who were very careful today and that attention to safety helped provide for another good day on the water. Racing was very close today, which shows the competitive spirit but it was also good to see that everybody is here to enjoy great company as well as superb racing and Shirley Heights is the perfect venue to celebrate with one another.”

After a delicious Caribbean-style BBQ, the Shirley Heights Reggae Band played into the night and the dance floor was soon swinging to the rhythm. After a lay day, racing at the Oyster Regatta Antigua continues, Friday 11th April.

Written by Louay Habib
Images by Kevin Johnson

12th April 2014

Race Day Three

Blue Ocean Classic.

Full on ocean conditions were the order of the day for the penultimate race at the Oyster Regatta Antigua. Race Three sponsored by Pelagos Yachts, started from outside English Harbour with the magnificent Oyster fleet beating to windward passed the Pillars of Hercules to enjoy an 18-mile ocean race, finishing at Nonsuch Bay on the windward coast of Antigua. At times, the wind speed was close to 20 knots and the sea state past Shirley Heights was significant. Oyster Yachts are built for blue water cruising and the largest fleet of Oyster Yachts ever assembled in the Caribbean were most certainly in their element.

In Class One, Paul and Penny Brewer's British Oyster 100, Penelope showed impressive speed, to take Line Honours for the third consecutive race and their third victory on corrected time assures Penelope of the class win with a race to spare. Penelope's skipper, Mark Durham spoke after racing today: “These are the conditions that Penelope really loves and that has shown in our results but what has been even more pleasant is that this is the first time that Paul and Penny Brewer's children have raced the boat and they have been very much part of the team. The three sons 17,18 and 20 have taken on important roles on board and before the regatta we spent some time at Barbuda, scuba diving, so that they have now passed there PADI exam. Penelope is great to race but her real role is to entertain guests and we have definitely had a lot of fun before and during this regatta.”

Oyster 885, Lush with Eddie Jordan at the helm and Dario Galvao's Brazilian Oyster 655, Rocas had an epic battle for second place. Rocas won the encounter by just 34 seconds, lifting them to third overall in class, just a single point ahead of Oyster 82, Starry Night.

In Class Two there is a tremendous battle between three Oyster 625s. Russian Oyster 625, Lady Mariposa took the gun by four minutes but after time correction Lady Mariposa took the win by just 30 seconds from Wolfram Birkel's Oyster 625, Red Cat. Maxim Kudryashov's Russian Oyster 625, Guardian Angel was third. With one race remaining, these three yachts are vying for the class title. Chris Glossop's British Oyster 575, Dreamer of Hamble was once again the top performer in the Oyster 575s.

Danish double Olympic Gold medallist, Jesper Bank is sailing on Oyster 625, Lady Mariposa this week. “The racing in the Oyster 625s is like one-design racing” commented Jesper. “Both upwind and downwind we are really close on the water and that gives the owner and his guests a fantastic experience. Today, we were so close but we made the best rounding for the last beat to the finish, which gave us clear air but I am sure tomorrow will be a really close race.”

With just one race to go a terrific battle has developed in Class Three. Assuming that the last race goes ahead, one race will be discarded, and four yachts are in the hunt for the class title. Eric Alfredson's Swedish Oyster 53, Lisanne is the current class leader. However, two Oyster 56s are still very much in contention, Harvey and Sue Death's Sarabi and Joachim and Rolf Riel's Mariela. Tony Keal's British Oyster 54, Wolfhound is also capable of winning the class but there was heartache today for the Wolfhound team.

“We lost electrical power before the start and we decided it would not be safe to race.” commented Tony. “However, we had no problem sailing behind the fleet all the way to Nonsuch Bay and will join in the party tonight. It was a great shame because the big sea state and upwind legs would have really suited us today. We are doing everything we can to get the boat race-worthy for tomorrow. I have a great crew on board, who have all just sailed around the world in the Oyster World Rally on four different boats, so there is a lot of experience on board.”

Nonsuch Bay Resort provided wonderful hospitality for the Oyster fleet, with water taxis ferrying the owners and their guests ashore to a very warm welcome from the attentive staff. The fleet enjoyed drinks on the terrace as the sun set on the Oyster fleet, anchored in one of the most beautiful bays of Antigua. The Oyster family enjoyed a sumptuous plated dinner, surrounded by forty acres of beautifully landscaped gardens and stunning ocean views.

Oyster CEO and Race Officer for the regatta, David Tydeman announced the prize winners and commented: “Classic Caribbean wind and sea conditions provide different racing to our Mediterranean events. At the Oyster Regatta in Palma last October, in light airs with the same rating, the Oyster 100, Penelope was beaten by Oyster 885s, 72s and the Oyster 82, Starry Night! It’s great to see Penelope doing so well here and now, with three bullets, she is assured of a win overall. I'm very pleased to see that she will be on the start line for the last race, showing good sportsmanship. The other two classes are still wide open and tomorrow promises to be a fantastic day on the water.”
Racing at the Oyster Regatta Antigua will come to a conclusion, Saturday 12 April with a spectacular downwind race back to English Harbour.

Written by Louay Habib
Images by Kevin Johnson

14th April 2014

Race Day Four

Fabulous Finale.

Final Day, 2014 Oyster Regatta Antigua.

Glorious but lighter conditions prevailed for the final day of racing at the Oyster Regatta Antigua, sponsored by Raymarine. The Oyster fleet was a magnificent sight, flying spinnakers for a predominantly downwind race from Nonsuch Bay to English Harbour Antigua. Even the wildlife turned out to watch with sunfish and sea turtles coming to the surface in the divine Caribbean swell. The warm tropical breeze had abated somewhat but 15 knots of Trade Winds and clear blue sky produced a perfect end to a memorable regatta.

In Class One, the final day of the regatta belonged to Oyster 82, Starry Night to the delight of the owner and crew. Starry Night won the last race by 25 seconds from Oyster 885 Lush, steered by Eddie Jordan. Starry Night's skipper, Roger Whyld spoke after the race. “We have been tweaking the rig and perfecting manoeuvres for several years to improve the performance of Starry Night and we have been delighted with the results against the other Oyster 82s but to win the last race was a great way to end what has been a highly enjoyable regatta.”

Paul & Penny Brewer's Oyster 100, Penelope was the overall winner of Class One, with Oyster 885, Lush second and Oyster 82, Starry Night in third. Paul Brewer lifted the trophy and spoke at the prizegiving. “The regatta has been absolutely brilliant, a really good atmosphere with a friendly but competitive spirit. We have finally got the boat performing as it can do and that is a great moment for us. It is the first time my boys have been on board, which was very exciting and they have been very much part of the crew and loved it and learnt a bit about sailing, as indeed have I. So in every respect it has been an incredible week.”

Ross Appleby's vintage Oyster 48, Scarlet Oyster was third in the last race, after receiving redress for assisting in a man overboard retrieval. Scarlet Oyster was rightly awarded the Carlisle Bay Resort complimentary Spa Day award for their efforts.

In Class Two, there was dramatic race between three Oyster 625s vying for the class win. Wolfram Birkel's German Oyster 625, Red Cat, Russian Oyster 625, Lady Mariposa and Maxim Kudryashov's Guardian Angel. Red Cat won the last race by just over a minute on corrected time to win the class but the three yachts had a close encounter all the way around the 18-mile race track.

“Everything has come right for us, we have done so much to prepare Red Cat for this regatta. I am so happy for all of the crew. I know we have a special boat and to win our first regatta is an amazing feeling.” Commented Red Cat owner, Wolfram Berkel, after receiving the Class Two Trophy.

Eric Alfredson's Swedish Oyster 53, Lisanne held on to win Class Three but only on count back, Tony Keal's British Oyster 54 Wolfhound entered the last race despite having no instruments or electric winches. Defiantly and with great skill, Wolfhound won the last race by over five minutes to tie on points with the class leader. However it wasn't enough as the tie-breaker of discard score went against Wolfhound and Lisanne won the class with Leo Nagtegaal's Duchess taking third in the last race and Harvey and Sue Death's Oyster 56, Sarabi taking third overall.

Eric Alfredson, owner driver of Lisanne spoke after the presentation. “It is a great feeling, I have been sailing with my wife and just our friends and we have never raced before, we knew that the other boats would be well sailed so we are a little surprised to win. The regatta has been fantastic, the weather has been just perfect for an Oyster, 18-20 knots of warm Trade Winds and the people that are here are so friendly. The regatta has been extremely well organised, it has been such a great experience.”

Oyster CEO and Race Officer for the regatta, David Tydeman announced the prize winners at the prize giving on the lawn at the Copper and Lumber, Nelson's Dockyard. “Fabulous racing, great company and great venues, this has been a highly successful regatta for Oyster Yachts and all of the owners and their guests, the next Oyster Regatta will take place in Palma Mallorca on 30 September and we will be returning to the Caribbean next year for the Oyster Regatta BVI in April. Many thanks to all of the Oyster sponsors, the Oyster team and the host venues for all of their hard work and support, without you Oyster Regattas would not be the great success that they are.”

The Oyster Regatta Antigua came to a conclusion with a cocktail party courtesy of Christophe Harbour, St.Kitts, followed by a superb buffet at the Copper and Lumber. Legendary Antiguan rock band, Itchy Feet playing an electric set to a packed dance floor played out the Oyster Regatta Antigua.

Written by Louay Habib
Images by Kevin Johnson

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