For days, captains and crews laboured in preparation for the Concours d’ Elégance. A few boats employed the come-as-you-are strategy while others went into full tilt production, setting the stage for the keen eye of judges. Spa treatments included last minute varnish, touch up paint, lines Flemished and hardware buffed, all followed by a dance with a mop on deck.
Andrew Breece, publisher of Wooden Boat Magazine joined a seasoned crew of judges listening to each vessel’s back story. They are tasked with looking beyond the flowers, trophies and crystal decanters for eccentric details that give a boat its distinct personality.
1967 47’ Gaff Ketch Avenger’s crew scented the cabin with pine tar and lit up the rum keg for affect. A display of Mount Gay Rum and custom koozies filled the piano top aboard 115’ 1939 Staysail Schooner Eros. Matthew Barker, owner of The Blue Peter, announced, “We didn’t do much to get ready this year. We have a baby onboard, you know.”
The 49’ Spirit of Tradition sloop Blackfish is a natural beauty with understated elegance. Captain Guido Schotman described Morgaine, built three decades, “It’s like an old pub down below.” Carriacou sloop 32’ New Moon showed off her new neon paint, as if anyone would miss it.
The Concours d’ Elégance is a tribute to timelessness and the effort it takes to keep a vessel close to the standards with which it was built. For 141’ Gloucester Fishing Schooner Columbia, 72’ Fife ketch Eilean and 79’ Mylne Mariella, it’s a beauty contest; 70’ gaff ketch Vendia’s charm is her fish-boat heritage; and for all, it’s a commitment to never-ending maintenance and the preservation of tradition.
Prizes, generously provided by The Admiral’s Inn in English Harbour, were awarded to judges top picks in each class. First in Classic, privately maintained is 66’ Herreshoff design ketch Arrluuk. 141’ Columbia took top honors for Classic, professionally maintained. Mylne Cutter 66’ The Blue Peter, complete with baby gear, was chosen first in Vintage/private. Top prize in Traditional class went to 32’ New Moon. 49’ Blackfish was the winner in Spirit of Tradition and in the new Historic class, 48’ Swan Sleeper took top honours
A highlight of Antigua Classic Regatta is the Arne Frizzell Award, a prize awarded for seaworthiness and attention to structural integrity and safety. This year’s proud winner, Morgaine, is a family boat, built by a father and sailed to Antigua by his son.
The spectacular Hoek Schooner 203’ Athos took home a Special Mention for the grand beauty she brings to this celebration boats representing the golden age of sail.