The Classic Yacht Regatta Antigua, and I will be there.

Today we are getting Pandora ready for leaving her in Trinidad, taking all of Brenda’s stuff home and most of her clothing. Thinking about what we should leave or take is a bit daunting as we won’t be back aboard, once I leave her in Trinidad until next winter, probably not till mid January.

We fly out in a few days, April 1st, back home from Antigua. In some ways the season has been a flash in the pan and yet there were times, with all those rolling anchorages, that it seemed like a long time.

While rolly anchorages are not uncommon in the Caribbean, this season seemed to be particularly active with winds from weird directions. For the last few days the wind has, once again, been out of the west, the opposite of the normal easterly trades. Very weird, for sure.

A few weeks ago I wrote about a “rare” west wind but here we are again, with the same thing happening again. While the winds have been variable for the last few days, they have come from a generally westerly direction, making the harbor a bit choppy and slowly filling with Sargasso weed that ultimately ends up on the beaches and slowly rots.

The “Classics” as the event is known here, brings together a remarkable number of beautiful yachts of all ages but the ones that really stand out are the vintage wooden ones, some of the most beautiful yachts ever built.

One in particular is Bolero, an iconic yacht that is one of the most successful ocean racers ever. She was designed by Sparkman and Stephens for the Brown family and launched in 1949, winning the Bermuda race multiple times and setting a course record that stood for nearly two decades.

As is the case for so many classic yachts, she eventually fell into disrepair, but ultimately rescued by owners with the means to bring her back to life. Today she is actively raced and will be participating in the Classic regatta here in Antigua.

I mention this as I have been invited to sail on her for a “practice” day before the Regatta begins. I am more than thrilled.

She is impressive.

In 2019 I was invited to be a “support boat” on the New York Yacht Club cruise and had an opportunity to meet her owner, Ed Kane. He agreed to let me aboard for a look but before I was able to go over, they had to leave.

The week was pretty amazing including an event at Harbor Court, now the Newport clubhouse for the NYYC and once home of the Brown family, who commissioned Bolero. I wrote a post about this amazing experience.

However, all was not lost as I later saw Bolero in her slip at the Newport Shipyard and the skipper was generous enough to let me tour her and take photos.

She has beautiful lines.

On deck, amazing attention to detail.

Stainless gleaming like new and it should with a full time captain and underwent a no-expense-spared restoration in Maine some years back.

Down below she looks the part of a proper yacht.

As you can imagine, I am pretty excited about being aboard her for a day of sailing. I might even be lucky enough to get an “official” shirt. Of course, the crew has to look the part, if only for a day.

Bolero is truly a one-of-a-kind yacht under the care of a thoughtful owner. See this article in Yachting Magazine from shortly after her refit.

So, another goal of mine will be to find a crew spot on one of the big classics for the Classic racing series. I have a number of feelers out including Nordwind. I had met the captain, Alex in Dominica when I invited him and his crew to join in on the fun at the Salty Dawg rendezvous. It turns out that he is also a member of the Tot club and when I saw him last night he seemed to think that he could likely take me. However, not sure about Steve, my crew, so we will have to wait and see. The captain told me that the Tot Club will be meeting aboard her during classics. I can’t wait.

Norwind was launched in Germany in 1939 as a naval training vessel and has had a long and colorful past. Read about her history in this brief piece.

So, will I sail on her for Classics? We’ll have to see.

Another boat that I may possibly sail on is Eros. I have no particular connection to this boat except that I know the person who interacts with the captains of all the boats that will participate in the regatta. She tells me that I have been recommended as a possible crew and it takes a lot of people to race her, upwards of 30 I am told.

This short video makes me want to get out my checkbook and charter her. Perhaps not, but there is a chance that I will be aboard when she is racing. We’ll see.

All and all, whatever yacht I find myself aboard, it’s going to be a wonderful experience. This video was commissioned for Eros during the 2017 Classics and gives a good feel for the scale of what this regatta is all about, one of the premier gatherings of remarkable classics anywhere.

Imagine the thrill of racing these majestic yachts. With some luck, perhaps I will be part of the action.

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