Every person has his own vision of heaven, and this is mine: if the eternal afterlife has blue skies, warm strong breezes, fast boats, and good rum, I will be all set.
In an effort to practice for this eventuality I decided to go to Antigua Sailing Week this year. I want to extend my sailing obsession time from the usual May-October season, when my Sabre 38 is afloat at the Shelter Island Yacht Club, by adding this week in April/May. Some good sailing connections suggested Northern Child, a Swan 51 that takes individual charter guests for the regatta. The owners Christian and Lucy Reynolds are accomplished racers, and their track record on the Caribbean circuit this season already includes lots of podium finishes. I made an easy booking via email, a few follow-up calls, and now here I am.
This is the 46th annual Antigua Sailing Week and it is as organized, well attended, and set up for serious sailing as I expected. There are 105 boats registered in 11 classes. Racing is under the Caribbean Sailing Association (CSA) racing rules. There are 5 days of buoy racing, plus a feeder from Guadeloupe and a race around Antigua. The biggest, fastest boats and top boats on the circuit are here, as well as a fleet of Sunsail charter and bareboats...in short something for everyone who wants to race.
My dream is to immerse myself in nothing but sailing for a week. And so far on day one there is no disappointment. Like a gathering tribe making ready for war, sailors are pouring in from all over the world. Northern Child has a crew from Australia, England and the U.S. Around the harbor, over twenty countries have boats flying their flag.
Racing generally starts around 10am. There are extensive Notice of Race instructions with all the information needed about registration, racing, prize ceremonies—and of course which channel the Protest Committee will monitor (VHF 12) if you care to call one in.
Today is crew safety and general practice aboard Northern Child. We may also anchor out in the harbor and help clean the bottom—otherwise known as "swim call." The trade winds are just coming up, and I can't wait to get underway.