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Antigua Race Bermuda Bound

At noon yesterday 21 yachts, including three Bermuda entries, started the long slog north from Antigua to the rock. Bermuda boats are Morning Star, a Paradise 60 skippered by Carl Soares from Smiths, Monterey, a Farr 56 skippered by Race Chairman Les Crane of Warwick and Spirit of Bermuda. Soars belongs to Royal Hamilton Amateur Dinghy Club and Crane is Past Commodore of the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club.

As expected, the Volvo 70 Warrior, the US Merchant Marine Academy yacht sailed by Stephen Murray of Southern Yacht Club from Metairie, Louisiana, led the fleet from the start just outside of English Harbour. Within two hours he was around the southeast corner of Antigua on a straight rhumbline course to Bermuda. Speed 8-10kts heading North.

Warrior was followed closely by the leading multihull Allegra, a Nigel Irens 78. The next monohulls were Stay Calm Stuart Robinson's Swan 82 from Hampshire, UK and Yacht Club Costa Smeralda and the Swan 90 Freya skippered by Don Macpherson of Santa Monica, California from the California Yacht Club.

Warrior had opened up a two mile lead on the chasing Freya and Stay Calm. The breeze then backed to the east putting the fleet on a beam reach. Freya unleashed their gigantic masthead Code Zero to flash past Warrior, who had forsaken their Code Zero and J1 to reduce their rating. Underpowered, Warrior was no match for the additional sail area and waterline length of Freya. Stay Calm was going well and estimated to be leading the race after time correction for both IRC and CSA, but there is a long way to go.

Simon & Nancy De Pietro's Irish CNB 76, Lilla, a former Newport Bermuda Division winner and record holder in the Marion Bermuda race was revelling in the reaching conditions and also going extremely well.

One of the fastest monohull competing is Warrior. The Murray family have donated the yacht to the USMMA to promote Warrior Sailing, a programme to assist wounded veterans in their recovery through sailing. Warrior was second overall in the 2011-12 Volvo Around the World Race. Navigator for Camper in the Volvo Ocean Race, Australian Will Oxley will be back on board for the Antigua Bermuda Race.

The fastest multihull in the race is Allegra. Skippered by Adrian Keller with Boat Captain Rob Grimm, the crew includes Paul Larsen, the World's fastest sailor who achieved 68 knots on board Vestas Sailrocket!

Despite Warrior and Allegra competing in different classes, the two fastest yachts in the race may enjoy an interesting battle at the front of the fleet.

Monterey was the leading Bermuda boat followed by Spirit of Bermuda and Morning Star, which was well behind and outside to the South.

Morning Star's owner Carl Soares built his Paradise 60 in 2015. He lives in Smith, Bermuda and sails out of the Royal Hamilton Amateur Dinghy Club. He will be joined by a crew of three, Kelly Fleming, Martin Loftus, and Ryan Loftus all from the United States.

“I come from a family of seafarers,” says Soares, “whalers, sea captains and boat builders. I have spent a lifetime in the boating community. I have participated in international powerboat racing and sailing events, both local and international. I sailed the Tornado Cat class as crew with Paul Elvstrom, a world famous skipper who had competed in six Olympic Games prior to me crewing with him. I've been a navigator in Newport Bermuda Race and a celestial navigator in the Marion Bermuda Race Celestial Division”

Soares has sailed over 60,000 miles 2,000 single handed and this is a trip home for him, from Antigua. He has been based there for the past ten years.

In 2004 Soares had a yard in the Netherlands build the hull and deck of aluminium. He then completely fitted out Morning Star by himself. It took ten years. Launched in May 2015. Soares is retired, living on Morning Star full-time.

“I was planning on heading home from Antigua after spending the winter in the Caribbean,” he said. “So for me it is a great opportunity to compete in a homemade boat. I am hoping for winds 25-30 knots so that it would be a fast race home.

Les Crane is race chairman and the organising force behind the inaugural race. He is sailing up to Bermuda on his own boat, Monterey, a Farr Pilothouse 56. He says, “I'm sailing with old friends from Canada. And with Bermudan James Watlington. Crane crossed the Atlantic earlier this year after extended cruising and some racing in the Med and Turkey to participate.

“The variety of the fleet shows the wide appeal of the race and bodes well for the Antigua Bermuda Race to grow in future editions,” Crane said, “The America's Cup in Bermuda has ignited interest in the race this year, however it is a well-known route for yachts leaving the Caribbean bound for the Eastern Seaboard of the United States as well as destination in Europe. Our intention is that the Antigua Bermuda Race will be an annual event, popular with a wide variety of yachts.”

The classic Spirit of Bermuda as the second largest entry represents the people of Bermuda and the Bermudian Sloop Foundation. Branwen Smith-King, the Bermuda Sloop Foundation Executive Director said, “The race started yesterday and the Spirit is off and sailing.”

“Spirit of Bermuda is proud and pleased to be taking part in the inaugural Antigua to Bermuda Race, what is hoped will become an annual event and part of a rich yachting tourism future for Bermuda.”

“Bermuda Sloop Foundation/Spirit were part of initial discussions about creating the event, and a year or more ago, the wheels were put into motion. Bermuda Tourism Authority and Gosling Brothers agreed to sponsor the event, Royal Bermuda Yacht Club agreed to host the event, and Spirit of Bermuda agreed to participate.”

In order to participate, Spirit offered berths to the public and to crew trainees. The race crew, in addition to Spirit's full time professional crew, comprises “spirited adventurers” who may be doing the voyage as part of their “bucket list” dreams, Spirit of Bermuda fans and avid sailors, and three sponsored watch leader crew trainees — former programme students and relief/charter crew who are on board to gain further sailing experience as part of their career aspirations — Edward Stovell, Esmerelda Zanders and Blaire Blakeney.

The race deadline is next Saturday. All competing yachts are fitted with automatic position trackers and will be sending in blogs telling their story of the race.

Race reports, blogs, images and video from the boats can all be found on the race website.

Spirit of Bermuda sets off from Antigua

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Published May 13, 2017 at 9:00 am (Updated May 12, 2017 at 11:58 pm)

Antigua Race Bermuda Bound

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