NONSUCH BAY RS ELITE CHALLENGE
Antigua Sailing Week is the longest running and most prestigious sailing regatta in the Caribbean, which attracts sailors from all over the world to enjoy the fantastic sailing conditions. The regatta is the grand finale of the season and this year Nonsuch Bay Resort was proud to be selected to partner the 46th edition of the regatta to host the inaugural Nonsuch Bay RS Elite Challenge.
The one-day, one-design invitational event, featuring Nonsuch Bay’s fleet of 24-foot RS Elite keelboats was watched by hundreds of spectators on Pigeon Beach during Lay Day at Antigua Sailing Week. Eight world-class skippers and crews took part with the top prize of a week’s stay and unlimited watersports activities at Nonsuch Bay Resort.
The RS Elite’s shallow draft meant that the course was set just a few metres from Pigeon Beach allowing spectators to have a close up view of all the action accompanied by live commentary. The teams’ family and friends could make themselves heard, cheering on their favourites. The teams battled away on a very tight course within touching distance of each other. The racing was incredibly close with most of the races decided by less than a boat-length, there was even a dead heat! Yacht racing is seldom within such close proximity to land, which made the event such an exciting spectacle for the enthusiastic audience.
Whilst the racing captivated the crowd, Nonsuch Bay’s 2011 Caribbean Chef of the year, Mitchell Husbands organised a fabulous beach barbeque with mouth watering contemporary dishes using local fresh ingredients. “We have kept the menu simple. That is what a beach party menu requires, but my Jamaican sous-chef makes a fantastic jerk seasoning and you have just got to taste that,” laughed Mitchell.
The four skippers to make the final were: Mark Dicker (Mini Maxi World Champion), Al Ashford (XOD Champion), Ross Applebey (RORC Fastnet and 600 winner) and Marc Fitzgerald (Farr 115 Overall winner, Antigua Sailing Week). After some intense racing, Mark Dicker, showed a clean pair of heels in a fantastic final to win all three races. Dicker’s crew was Irish Olympic Finn sailor, Tim Goodbody and King Harald of Norway’s bowman, Christian Jensen. Dicker’s effort was made all the more impressive by the fact that the opposition was extremely strong including sailors from the Olympics, World Championships and Admiral’s Cup.
At the prize giving, veteran Dragon sailor and Maxi Yacht captain, Mark Dicker was delighted to accept a week’s stay at Nonsuch Bay Resort. “I would like to thank Antigua Sailing Week for laying on such a great event and Nonsuch Bay for providing a wonderful prize.” Smiled Dicker. “Nonsuch Bay is a superb place to sail and I’m a regular visitor for the kitesurfing. The facilities there are second to none.”
Al Ashford was delighted to make the final, Al Ashford is a class champion in the XOD fleet, considered the most competitive class at Cowes Week. “The standard of the competition at the RS Elite challenge was very spirited.” Commented Al. “However, the conditions are far more pleasant than back in the UK and I was delighted to do so well, one of the great features of the RS Elite is that you don’t need three burley lads to sail them, my wife Jackie thoroughly enjoyed racing, especially as we did so well.”
Marc Fitzgerald has had a glittering sailing career winning regattas all over the world, as the skipper of the magnificent 115ft ketch, Sojana. For the event Marc was joined by Antiguan double Olympic Laser sailor Karl James. “A fantastic event and a credit to Antigua Sailing Week.” Commented Marc. “The racing was extremely well organised and whilst there was no quarter given on the race course, we all had a few laughs; competitive fun sailing in the sunshine without the logistics of a big boat was a very refreshing way to enjoy Lay Day. I just wish we could have beaten Mark Dicker!”
Jim Ryan has been sailing on the East Coast of America for many years and regularly competes on the Melges 24 circuit. “When I told my wife Mindy about the invitation to sail on Lay Day at Antigua Sailing Week, I thought she would prefer a day on the beach but I got an immediate reply of YES, of course I want to sail those boats!” Smiled Jim. “We had a good week at Antigua Sailing Week, coming in 2nd in our division but by far, the highlight of our week, was sailing the RS Elite on the short course. There were hundreds of spectators on the beach and many more on boats anchored in the bay, including our crew cheering us on. The RS Elite is a fun, fast, responsive boat and was the ideal choice for the near shore, tight quarters racing. By the way, I live in New York where we have a lot of good restaurants and those ribs on the beach were the best I've ever tasted!”
Sales and Marketing Director at Nonsuch Bay Resort, Mark Whinney was delighted with the success of the event. “Watching the RS Elites racing right off the beach was fantastic and we hope to partner with Antigua Sailing Week at next year’s event. The RS Elites are a perfect boat for this kind of competition as the action is thrilling for both the competitors and spectators. Crew weight and strength is not critical with the Elites so it definitely added to the Lay Day atmosphere to see three women amongst the crews. We definitely think that this format is very attractive to sailors. At Nonsuch Bay we have hosted groups of individuals who have staged their own competitions and we can only see this trend continuing.”
This year, a group of Salcombe Yawl sailors from Devon enjoyed a week at Nonsuch Bay Resort racing RS Elites. “Nonsuch Bay tailor-made the event for us, providing an accommodation and sailing package including laying out the race course each day.” Commented Martin Beck. “The sailing area in the bay is just fantastic; warm water and exciting Trade Winds blowing straight down the bay made for some truly memorable racing and just in shorts and t-shirts at a time of year when sailing in Salcombe is not at all comfortable. The week was just about getting a bunch of sailing friends together in glorious conditions but the racing was very competitive and after racing there was plenty of light-hearted bragging over a few cocktails.”