Single-Handed Race and sea shanties!

The 20th edition of the Single-Handed Race took place on the eve of Antigua Classic Yacht Regatta, sponsored by Locman, while four days of fleet racing at Antigua Classic Yacht Regatta will start April 19.

Eleven stunning examples of classic yachts took part in a stand-alone race lasting just over one hour along the dramatic south coast of Antigua. With moderate trade wind conditions of 14-16 knots, and a relatively smooth sea state, perfect conditions prevailed for the almost unique phenomenon of racing classic yachts single-handed.

Race Officer Tim Wall set a short course with a reaching start, inside Falmouth Harbour, followed by a short beat to a mark just off English Harbour, then a longer downwind leg to Turtle Bay. Then it was a beat back to Falmouth Harbour and a reaching finish.

Skippers raced solo without the use of auto-pilot, but were allowed an observer on board, who could not participate in sailing the boats.

Don Ward's Dykstra 44, Willpower, took line honours in the Spirit of Tradition Class and was third overall. Tanner Jones, racing the 1963 Jack Holt 28' sloop Rita, was second. The winner was Geoffrey Pidduck's 1989 6 Metre, Biwi Magic, sailed by Tony Sayer.

Tanner Jones and Tony Sayer were sharing a drink at the Carib Bar after racing. “We go back a long way, and are good mates. We were racing against each other, but really we were enjoying a great time on the water,” commented Tony Sayer.

“Great fun, but Rita is a complex boat, so I am glad we will have a full crew for 'classics,” commented Tanner Jones.

“My two children, who are eight and 10, will be joining us for a few races, and they are great sailors already, 'Classics is sure to be a lot of fun for them as well,” Tanner said.

The 1957 S&S 52' yawl, Mah Jong, skippered by Alex Goldhill, took line honours for the Large Classics. It also won overall. Steve Frary's 1997 Herreshoff 58' ketch, Arrluuk, was second. Christoph von Reibnitz's 1936 59' Henry Gruber yawl, Peter von Seestermuehe, was third.

“We often sail Mah Jong short-handed, just me and the mate, but I have never raced her single handed before,” commented Alex Goldhill.

“The boat is quite easy to sail once the mizzen is down, because everything else is led to the cockpit. I have to say the start was a moment to remember, with all three boats reaching over the top of each other, my heart was in my mouth.

“Mr Illderton, the owner of Mah Jong, won the race last year, so it was nice to keep up the tradition. The plan for Mah Jong for the classics is not to break anything. We want to have fun, and sail the boat as well as she deserves,” said Goldhill, who grew up in Carriacou, Grenada, but is now based in Martha's Vineyard, the home port for Mah Jong.

Oliver Greensmith skippered the 1936 A&R 41', Seefalke II, to victory in the Small Classic Class. Greensmith had his brother Giles on board as an observer.

“Oliver lives in Antigua with his family, and we’re having a big reunion in Antigua. We have flown in from the UK and South Africa,” Giles Greensmith said.

“Oliver did not get a good start, as we were last to the first mark, but we got back in the lead on the downwind leg. At the finish, Lazy Leg was to windward, and beat Seefalke over the line by a few seconds. I will be racing with the team for 'classics on the bow. I am a little nervous, but it's a really experienced crew.”

Juerg Zimmermann's 1969 yawl, Lazy Leg designed by Bill Tripp, took line honours for the Small Classics and was second overall. The 1986 Burgess 42' sloop Morgaine, skippered by Guido Schotman, was third.

Schotman was resplendent in a Caribbean style suit at the prize giving, and was enjoying the night with his crew: “We have just crossed the Atlantic together and now we’re at 'classics, which is just fantastic!”

The fun doesn't stop after racing at Antigua Classic Yacht Regatta. The Sea Shanty competition was in full swing on the lawn of the Antigua Yacht Club, with crews taking to the stage for their ad-lib performances, assisted by the odd tot of Mount Gay Rum.

Sea Shanties were commonly sung to accompany labour on board large merchant sailing vessels. However by the end of the 19th century, steam-powered ships took away the practical function. At Antigua Classic Yacht Regatta, this tradition is very much alive. Check out the Regatta's Facebook page for evidence!

For more information:

Louay Habib

Race Yachts
M.O.S.S Australia
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