Between April 17th and 22nd, the beautiful Caribbean yacht charter destination – Antigua will provide the backdrop for the first stage of the Panerai Classic Yachts Challenge 2014. The event represents the international racing circuit for classic and vintage yachts, which celebrates its 10th anniversary this year: a major milestone the Florentine luxury sports watch maison is marking with the “10 Years of Passion” communications campaign.
Officine Panerai remains the world’s leading classic yachting regatta organiser with no less than eleven events scheduled for 2014 in the most tradition-rich maritime corners of the world. Panerai also underlined its links to classic sailing in this anniversary year by creating the new Luminor 1950 Regatta 3 Days Chrono Flyback Titanio, a chronograph designed to bring a revolutionary simplicity to start-time countdowns.
Around 50 yachts will be participating in the 27th edition of the Antigua Classic Yacht Regatta, which is one of the most important events outside Europe devoted to promoting classic sailing. The regatta is completely independent of both the Mediterranean and North American Panerai Classic Yachts Challenge Circuits. Divided into Vintage, Classic, Traditional, Modern Classic, Spirit of Tradition and Tall Ships categories, the fleet will be gathering at the Antigua Yacht Club Marina in the lovely Falmouth Harbour.
Five races are planned in all, including the Single Handed Race, which will be run for the 15th time this year. At the end of the third race on Sunday, April 20th, the entire fleet will parade in English Harbour while the prize-giving ceremony will be held at the Copper & Lumber Store on Tuesday, April 22nd.
Antigua will attract many of the most beautiful boats in yachting history, stunning examples of the genius of world-renowned designers of the likes of Sparkman & Stephens, Nathanael Herreshoff, John Alden and Frederick Shepherd.
Not least amongst them is the 15-metre yawl Dorade, which helped make Olin Stephens, who passed away in 2008 at the age of 100, one of the greatest yacht designers of all time. Also returning once again is the most assiduous competitor on the Panerai Circuit, The Blue Peter. This 1930 Bermudan cutter has taken part in almost all of the events since the very first edition, including the 2012 Panerai Transat Classique and, of course, the 2013 Antigua Classic, in which she acquitted herself very honourably by taking third place in her category.
Another welcome return is that of Stormvogel, the very fast 1961 22-metre ketch which won the Classic category on Mediterranean Circuit of the Panerai Classic Yachts Challenge in 2008.
Last year, Stormvogel also took a total of three prizes at Antigua including first place in her category. The 1957 19-metre ketch Lone Fox will be attempting to win back the Panerai trophy she garnered in both 2011 and 2012 too.
The Big Boats – beautifully imposing craft with vast sail plans – will also be providing a stunning spectacle harking back to the golden age of sailing. That fleet includes the likes of the 40-metre J-Class superyacht Rainbow, luxury yacht Whitehawk (1978) and the 2012 schooner Atrevide, both 32-metres, the 1924 25-metre gaff schooner Adventuress and the 2013 staysail charter yacht Chronos, a genuine seafaring giantess at 48 metres.
In the Spirit of Tradition category, which features yachts recently built to designs inspired by the past, the stars will be the beautiful craft created by Spirit Yachts of England which specialises in wood laminate new classics of between 11 and 40 metres.
Approximately 10 yachts have already entered and range in size from the little Spirit 52s Flight of Ufford and Chloe Racing, both of which are 15-metres, to the imposing 23-metre Spirit 76 Nazgul of Fordell.
This year, Kenny Coombs, a genuine seafaring gentleman, founder and organiser of the Regatta, will also be remembered at the 2014 edition of Antigua. Kenny, who passed away in London in October 2013, was not only Chairman of the Antigua Classic Yacht Regatta, but also enjoyed the deep affection and respect of the classic sailing world’s skippers and crews.