Sailing in Antigua
Sailing in Antigua
Antigua and Barbuda can boast the finest cruising waters in the Leeward and Windward islands, where the sublime Caribbean climate compliments a host of sandy bays that ring each island of our twin island state. Secure and secluded anchorages are found at all points of the compass, even on the exposed Atlantic side. This is a rarity on most other islands, where sailing is normally kept to the Western – Leeward (Caribbean Sea) side. Sailing in the Antigua encompasses many forms; from the extreme to the ever so chilled and relaxing – enjoying an evening zephyr on the tranquil waters of the Caribbean.
For the true sailor there’s endurance sailing offered in the RORC Caribbean 600 – a relatively new race which starts and finishes, days later, in Falmouth Harbour - after blasting around several of our neighbouring islands. Following the fleet’s progress is made possible through the use of today’s technology; a tracking device on each yacht gives the positions in real time, viewed online at www.caribbean600.rorc.org/ it makes for the ultimate armchair sailing.
If you are more inclined to be involved, then take in one of several boat excursions on offer, from a sunset cruise (the view from the sea at sunset is a memory you will hold forever) to the all-day circumnavigation – it’s all sailing! If you don’t actually own a sailing vessel, there are several options open to get out there and enjoy the welcoming waves. From charter yachts to laser boats we guarantee you will find the right vessel for your needs.
If you want sailing lessons, you can call in at the Antigua Yacht Club in Falmouth Harbour and sign up for a dinghy sailing course under the expert tutelage of Antigua’s very own Olympic competitor, Karl James. He’ll have you tacking and jibbing so soon you’ll want to enter the Caribbean 600! If you are an Antiguan school student – it’s free – courtesy of the National Sailing Academy.
Possibly the most fun you will find, per foot, offered on any sailing vessel anywhere in the world is on a West Indian Sloop. Imagine a handful of hand-crafted (by hand on the beach) 40-foot locally built wooden fishing sloops charging around a race course with more excitement, fervency and passion than you are likely to find at any event. Add to that all the colours of the Caribbean and an eclectic band of enthusiastic sailors and there you have the scene set.
It’s laid back and adrenalin charged at the same time. West Indian working boat regattas take place on several Caribbean islands with Antigua’s being in February and if we promise to behave they even let us in to the (very civilised) Antigua Classic Yacht Regatta in April. These boats are unique to the West Indies and not to be missed.
Any article about sailing in Antigua would not be complete without including our two most famous regattas: Antigua Sailing Week (www.sailingweek.com/) and Antigua Classic Regatta. The former has long been established as a world class event and this year will be the 45th anniversary. Antigua Sailing Week attracts hundreds of yachts from all over the globe with some of the fastest most powerful ‘racing machines’ battling it out in the blue arena surrounding Antigua.
After racing, the parties are worth a special mention as a Caribbean carnival atmosphere sets the tone with big name international artists encouraging the visiting sailors and locals to jump up ‘till the morning light! The somewhat more sedate Antigua Classic Yacht Regatta was started in 1986 by a group of enthusiasts to enable the crews of the elegant yachts of yesteryear to gather amongst like-minded individuals to enjoy a few days of gentlemanly racing and socialising.
Since then it has grown into arguably the world’s most premier classic yacht regatta, attracting the most amazing yachts to have graced the world’s oceans. Both regattas offer opportunities for participants and spectators alike. Don’t miss the parade of sails during the Antigua Classic Yacht Regatta where you can be a part of history as famous yachts parade through English Harbour past Nelson’s Dockyard (www.nationalparksantigua.com/).
Throughout the season there are a whole host of regattas and races to whet the appetite. For full details you should contact the Antigua Yacht Club (www.antiguayachtclub.com/), Jolly Harbour Yacht Club (www.jhycantigua.com/) which hosts a race every Saturday and the Harmony Hall Yacht Club
which organises Dragon Class racing. For a listing of events and local sailing tours see Calendar of Events. We all think that for sailing, Antigua is the place to be and so does Russell Coutts, one of the world’s most famous sailors. He has sailed the world over and succinctly states: ‘The setting and sailing conditions in Antigua are quite simply spectacular!’.