The 2015 racing season for classic and vintage sailing yachts begins, sponsored for the 11th consecutive year by Officine Panerai
As per tradition, the Panerai Classic Yachts Challenge season gets underway this year on the island of Antigua. The international circuit reserved for classic and vintage sailing vessels has now reached its 11th edition. After 10th anniversary celebrations in 2014, the Florentine luxury sports watch maker Officine Panerai has reaffirmed its commitment to the promotion of yachting culture and classing sailing with its 2015 calendar.
Of the nine rounds on the calendar this year, four take place in the United States and the Caribbean, one in England and four in the Mediterranean. The season-opener is, of course, the Antigua Classic Yacht Regatta, which plays out between April 15 and 21. The 50 or yachts taking part in the 28th edition of the event are divided into Vintage, Classic, Traditional, Classic GRP (classic boats built from fibreglass) and Spirit of Tradition classes.
Four races are planned in all: “Old Road”, “Butterfly”, “The Cannon” and “Windward”. They take place on a mix of coastal and triangular courses in the stretch of sea to the south of the island. The fleet races will range between 20 and 24 nautical miles and be preceded on April 16 by the 16th edition of the Single Handed Race, in which the competing craft are sailed solo by the skipper with just one other crew member aboard as a safety precaution.
Also for the second consecutive year, Antigua hosts the Kenny Coombs Memorial Trophy, commemorating the late sailor and chairman of the Antigua Classic Yacht Regatta who passed away in London in 2013. On its first outing the prize was won by Genesis and she will be competing again this year.
The Antigua Yacht Club, where the race briefings and crew hospitality are based, is also staging a Welcome Party, Concours d’Elegance and a parade of the fleet. The final prize-giving ceremony is on Monday, April 20, at Nelson’s Dockyard.
The Antigua Classic Yacht Regatta offers the many classic and vintage yachts spending the winter and spring seasons in the Caribbean an annual opportunity to compete before the summer racing calendar proper commences. Needless to say, the megasailers (craft of over 30 metres in length) provide the most spectacular racing. The latter include Whitehawk, a 1978 32-metre wood-built ketch inspired by the output of the historic American Herreshoff yard. The two-master will be attempting to repeat her 2014 victories in both her class and the Concours d’Elegance.
Even more imposing is the 42-metre aluminium ketch Rebecca, designed in 1999 by German Frers and clothed in the sleek overhangs and lines of the great classic yachts of the mid-20th century. The 40-metre Rainbow, on the other hand, is inspired by the historic J-Classes and America’s Cup challenges of the 1930s. Built from aluminium and launched in Holland in 2012, she is a replica of the Starling Burgess-designed J-Class that beat the English challenger Endeavour to victory in the 1934 America’s Cup.
Also in Antigua will be Sincerity, a stunning 28-metre ketch designed and built entirely in Italy in 1928 by Baglietto of Varazze in Liguria. Her interiors feature a former Orient Express cabin, and she has completed numerous passages between the USA, Europe and the Mediterranean.
Other entrants include Argyll, Desiderata, The Blue Peter and Vagabundo II, which arrived in the Caribbean after taking part in the Panerai Transat Classique 2015, the 33-metre Kairos, the 41-metre gaff schooner Elena and a host of other yachts built between the start of the 20th century and the present day.