Organised by the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club in association with Antigua Sailing Week, the inaugural Antigua Bermuda Race will commence after the 50th edition of Antigua Sailing Week in early May 2017. The Antigua Bermuda Race is designed to offer an exciting passage race to Bermuda, the home of the 2017 America’s Cup.
The Antigua Bermuda Race is open to yachts and multihulls with a minimum length of 40ft (12m) holding a valid IRC and/or CSA Rating Certificate or Superyacht rating. Dual scoring will be provided. A provision of a Motor Sailing Handicap will be overlaid for Cruiser Racers. The Royal Bermuda Yacht Club is already taking pre-registration of yachts interested in racing. Schooner America, the replica of the original winner of the America’s Cup and the 112ft (34m) sail training ship, Spirit of Bermuda are confirmed entries. An international fleet of yachts is expected for the race, with exclusive social events organised in Antigua and Bermuda.
“Bermuda is excited to be hosting the 2017 America’s Cup and the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club sees the Antigua Bermuda Race as an opportunity to have some fun getting to Bermuda in time for the month-long America’s Cup celebrations,” comments Les Crane, Chairman, Antigua Bermuda Race.
“Bermuda is one of the prettiest sailing grounds in the Atlantic. There are only 21 square miles of land, but it’s spread among 181 islands, creating countless pink sand beaches, coves and anchorages. Along with the vibrant town life, it’s a great place to be. Add in the America’s Cup and it is the place to be in May 2017. Each spring many yachts pass through on their way to New England or Europe, stopping for only a day or two. We want to encourage them to stay a while and enjoy all that Bermuda has to offer,” continues Crane.
The Antigua Bermuda Race course is straightforward: Start off Fort Charlotte Antigua, Antigua to port, Bermuda to port, finish off St David’s Light Bermuda. Approx. distance 935 nm. In early May the northern limits of the tradewinds can be as much as 28 degrees north. Easterly or south-easterly winds are common for the first half of the passage, giving exhilarating reaching or downwind conditions. Light southerly winds are common in the Horse Latitudes that traverse the Sargasso Sea and the finish in Bermuda is likely to be a tactically different change to the fast-surfing conditions of the tradewinds.
The reproduction schooner America is a modern replica of the 139ft (42m) yacht that won the Royal Yacht Squadron’s 100 Guinea Cup in 1851. The winners, members of the New York Yacht Club, donated the trophy to the Club, to be held as a ‘challenge’ trophy and the America’s Cup was born. The scale replica of the America has been owned by Troy Sears’ company, Next Level Sailing, since 2006:
“The Antigua Bermuda Race is a natural, and I was surprised that the race didn’t already exist,” said Troy Sears, owner and skipper of the schooner America. “It was an honor to introduce Antigua Sailing Week to the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club and be a key part of the development of the race. I am sure their leadership will produce a fantastic regatta. For us, racing against our friends, the Spirit of Bermuda, will be a fantastic way to enter Bermuda before The 35th Defence of The America’s Cup. The race will also be the final leg for the schooner America and The America’s Cup Tour after visiting more than 100 ports on both coasts of the United States, Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean.”
The 112ft (34m) sloop, Spirit of Bermuda was designed for the Bermuda Sloop Foundation as a sail training ship and as the flagship for Bermuda. Her design takes inspiration from a Royal Navy Sloop of War from the 1830’s:
“The Bermuda Sloop Foundation and Spirit of Bermuda are proud and pleased to have played a role in the planning of a 2017 Antigua Bermuda Yacht Race. We look forward to participating as flagship of the race, along with Schooner America and an enthusiastic response from the wider yachting community is anticipated. We will be pleased to lead (hopefully) the fleet of yachts and their sailors to Bermuda, just in time for the 2017 America’s Cup events. We extend our congratulations and thanks to Royal Bermuda Yacht Club; Antigua Sailing Week; Bermuda Tourism Authority; Gosling’s Rum, and other event sponsors.” says Diana Martin, CEO, Bermuda Sloop Foundation/Spirit of Bermuda.
An international and highly varied fleet of yachts will gather in Antigua for the start on 12 May 2017, following the 50th edition of Antigua Sailing Week, the Caribbean’s longest running and most prestigious regatta. A welcome party and rousing send-off will be sponsored by Gosling’s Rum and organised by Antigua Sailing Week. Upon arrival in Bermuda, the fleet will enjoy the hospitality of the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club with Goslings presenting the official welcome party and prize giving on Saturday May 20th for all competitors. Bermuda’s National holiday follows soon after, with huge raft-up parties, then on May 26th the America’s Cup preliminary events get underway.
Sailors will have the opportunity to explore Bermuda, known around the world as a favourite hotspot for yachting and sailing activities in its stunning turquoise waters. Bermuda has also been a top destination for generations of travellers who enjoy the beautiful pink sand beaches, world-class golf and warm, friendly people.
“This race will be outstanding. Our Spirit of Bermuda and the Schooner America sailing into Hamilton Harbour from Antigua is the perfect precursor to the America’s Cup in 2017. In fact, the Annapolis Bermuda Ocean Race, the Newport Bermuda Race and now the Antigua Bermuda Race are all coming to the island over the next 18 months and we’re excited to roll out our famous Bermudian hospitality for all of them. Plus the M32 series and the RC44 regatta are both here for the first time in 2016. All of this pre-America’s Cup activity is part of what we call #RacetoBermuda and it is positioning Bermuda as the preeminent choice for the world’s most spectacular sailing events,” comments Pat Phillip-Fairn, Chief Product and Experiences Development Officer, Bermuda Tourism Authority
The Antigua Bermuda Race is supported by the Bermuda Tourism Authority and Goslings Rum.