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Wednesday 20th April 2016

Kialoa II Credit: Rolex/Kurt Arrigo

With over 100 yachts racing at the 49th edition of Antigua Sailing Week, including an impressive 76 yachts in the CSA Racing Classes, the Caribbean's longest running regatta is set for another fascinating chapter. With 28 yachts 50ft or over and teams from all over the world, Antigua Sailing Week 2016 is a cosmopolitan event that will showcase the awesome sailing conditions and famous party atmosphere to the sailing world.

Tonnerre 4 - Credit: Tim Wright

Top of the bill in CSA Racing is a mouth-watering showdown between three high performance yachts with a wide variety of crews. Piet Vroon's Ker 51, Tonnerre 4 is a proven winner with a multinational and largely corinthian crew, including three generations of the Vroon family. Principle driver will be Volvo Ocean Race exponent, Paul Wilcox. Bernie Evan Wong will be proudly flying the Antiguan flag, but not from his usual boat. Bernie has chartered TP52, Conviction for the regatta and will be sailing with a talented Antiguan team including his daughter Mei Ling and youth sailors Rhone Kirby and Janield Smith. Both Tonnerre 4 and Conviction will be looking to beat Tony Langley's professional team, racing Gladiator, one of the latest TP52s.

Gladiator will be racing in the 52 Super Series this summer and Antigua Sailing Week is part of their build up. Gladiator Sailing Team Project Manager, Tom Wilson has also contacted Antigua Sailing Week explaining that owner Tony Langley is keen for a good up-and-coming Antiguan sailor to join the crew.  More news on that soon!

Gladiator, TP52  Credit: Team Gladiator

“We have our second boat on this side of the Atlantic and the team is keen to get as much time on the water before the 52 Super Series kick off in Europe. Antigua Sailing Week fitted in very well with our very busy schedule,” commented Team Gladiator Project Manager, Tom Wilson.

“Tony (Langley) has been very keen to come back here as Antigua is a place he loves and where a lot of his addiction for the sport originated from. We won't have the full Super Series Team on board as we also like to give some of the young lads a chance to sail with some of the best guys in the world. It's something Tony is very keen on and gets a lot of satisfaction from. That said, we will have a few of the key players on board including British Volvo Ocean Race Winners Ian Walker and Jules Salter. Racing at Antigua Sailing Week is going to be a real thrill - a bit like a turbo-charged uncomfortable hot tub on wheels!,” continues Wilson.

One of the most famous yachts racing this year is the S&S 78 Maxi, Kialoa III, which was last seen at Antigua Sailing Week (then called Antigua Race Week) in 1979. Kialoa III set a record in the 1975 Sydney Hobart Race which lasted for 21 years, and also completed the infamous 1979 Fastnet Race. Kialoa III has been recovered and restored to its high performance racing condition by the K3 Foundation. After its debut in the Rolex Big Boat Series in San Francisco last September, the yacht has sailed over 8,000 miles to Antigua to try to emulate her win back in 1979.

Kialoa III's Boat captain is Jorge Madden from Spain and the skipper is Volvo Ocean Race legend, Roy Heiner from the Netherlands. “It will be very interesting to race a 42-year-old vintage racing machine versus modern yachts on racing courses and weather conditions that are perfect to develop Kialoa's full potential,” says Madden.

Antigua Sailing Week has always been a super competitive regatta and although class splits are still to be decided, looking at the scratch sheet a clutch of boats around 40 feet are likely to have a real ding-dong on the water.

British sailor, Chris Body has chartered J/122 El Ocaso for the regatta and has bought over a top crew from the UK. American King 40, Hot Ticket owned by Peter Corr is in outstanding form, having won a highly competitive class in St. Barths this month with straight bullets. Three First 40s are bound to have a close encounter on the race course. Chris Jackson's First 40, Lancelot II is back and will be racing against First 40, Southern Child with Puerto Rican tactician Jaime Torres. Jeremy Thorp's British team will be racing Arthur to complete the trio of First 40s. Five First 40.7s will also be in the mix with former class winner, Grand Soleil 43 Quokka, being chartered by Richard Matthews and will be highly competitive.

There will be many stand-out skirmishes within the fleet, none more so than Ross Applebey's British Oyster 48, Scarlet Oyster, Carlo Falcone's Antiguan one-off Caccia alla Volpe and Andy Middleton's First 47.7, Performance Yacht Racing/EH01. The two Oyster 82s, Starry Night of the Caribbean and John McMonigall's Zig Zag are also expected to have a close battle over the five days of racing. There are also several 2015 Class champions returning to defend their titles: TP52, Conviction, chartered to Bernie Evan Wong (with his TAZ team), Alan Edwards' Swan 65 Spirit, Ross Applebey's Oyster 48, Scarlet Oyster and Jonty Layfield's Sleeper (now a J/11s).

After the highly successful inaugural Royal Southern Yacht Club Inter-Yacht Club Challenge last year, eight yachts have already entered the 2016 competition and several more are expected. The criterion for entering is that at least 50% of the crew must be members of the yacht club they are representing. No less than five of the teams entered are from Antiguan yacht clubs including Jolly Harbour Yacht Club and Antigua Yacht Club.

Through initiatives made by Antigua Yacht Club and the National Sailing Academy of Antigua, many Antiguan teenagers and even younger will be taking part this year alongside the older generation of Antiguans:  Rhone Kirby (17) who represented Antigua and Barbuda and Antigua Yacht Club at the Youth Olympic Games in China; and Jules Mitchell (17) who participated in the 2015 ISAF Youth Sailing World Championship in Malaysia. On board Jonty Layfield's Sleeper II there are five young Antiguans: Vincent Anfi (15), Joshua Daniel (14), Maleck Patterson (14), Morrison (13) and Shannoy Malone who is just 11 years old.

Antigua Sailing Week kicks off on Friday with the Guadeloupe to Antigua Race, the Round Antigua Race on Saturday 23rd April and the first race of the 49th Antigua Sailing Week starting on Sunday, April 24th.

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