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Friday 4th January 2013

Antigua's Hugo B leading the pack on the second leg of the race.

Antigua’s New Year’s Eve Nelson’s Pursuit Race was exceptionally well attended on Monday, particularly in view of what Mother Nature dished out to the fleet of enthusiastic sailors.  Thirty-seven boats braved the variable winds and sometimes heavy rain showers to participate in this fun annual event which grows in size virtually every year.

The yacht Old Bob, expected to be the slowest around the course, started the race first and carried the French flag, with the remainder of the yachts representing the British fleet in hot pursuit.  In keeping with the usual Old Bob spirit, the yacht was renamed Vieux Robert for the race, a name deemed more worthy of a yacht carrying a French flag.

Unfortunately for the smaller boats, there was very little wind early in the race causing many to wallow around for half an hour prior to the better winds setting in.  The bigger boats with later starting times were able to take advantage of the more consistent winds in the 18-knot range which had filled in when their start times came around, causing the final results to be rather skewed with the fleet more spread out at the finish line than is normal.  The Race Committee offered its apologies to the smaller boats, although it could not have predicted the unusual weather conditions when it assigned the start times.

Leopard3 in hot pursuit of Sojana as they approach the finish line.

Notwithstanding Mother Nature, the race offered a very exciting finish with the Farr-100 super maxi Leopard3 in hot pursuit of Peter Harrison’s Farr-115 Sojana all the way to the finish line.  Captain Marc Fitzgerald and helmsman Poul Hoj-Jensen managed to barely hold onto Sojana’s lead and crossed the line first, only 23 seconds ahead of Leopard3 which had been chartered by guests from Jumby Bay.  What a thrill it was for the charterers of Leopard3 which set a new elapsed time record of only 75 minutes and 17 seconds.

Following the race and notwithstanding the rain, the rum punch flowed thanks to Chippy and crew but may have spoiled a few dinner parties with people loading up early.  At the prize giving, all participating yachts received a bottle of English Harbour rum and Captain Chris Sherlock and the crew of Leopard3 proudly collected the Nelson’s Pursuit Race Scrimshaw plaque.  Thanks to Premier Beverages for the case of rum it kindly donated.

It was the yachts Tenacious and Old Bob that were the toast of the regatta however.  Tenacious went overboard with great costumes and a very loud cannon.  David Buller, Captain of Old Bob proudly renamed Vieux Robert for the event, and several of his crew members turned out in great French costumes.

Amongst all the fun this event offers however, it also has a serious side.  On New Year’s Eve 2011, the St. John Hospice was opened in Antigua.  It provides palliative care for the terminally ill and in the past year it has assisted more than 65 people.  All proceeds from the Nelson’s Pursuit Race, both in 2011 and again in 2012 were donated to the Hospice.  It’s estimated that close to EC $10,000 was raised for the Hospice in the 2012 race alone which once again shows the kind and generous spirit of yachtsmen who usually find a way to turn their fun into something good for those less fortunate.
Congratulations to the organisers who once again put on a fantastic New Year’s Eve event.

Undoubtedly the Nelson’s Pursuit Race will continue to grow in 2013 with more and more sailors determined not to miss out on the great fun this event has to offer in the lead up to New Year’s celebrations.

To view the photo gallery and/or purchase photos of the Nelson’s Pursuit Race click here.  All photos copyright Kevin Johnson,

Article by Tom Paterson and Kathy Lammers.
Photos copyright Kevin Johnson,

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