The 19th of December saw the first race of the Budget Marine High Tide Series organized by the Antigua Yacht Club. The series is run over the Christmas period with the first race on a Thursday, two races on the Sunday before Christmas, and the final, longer two races on the 26th December aka Boxing Day, designed to blow the excesses of Christmas away.
The first race started in ideal conditions with a steady 15-20 knot easterly breeze. Six boats participated in two classes and the “usual suspects” were welcomed back plus a new kid on the block, Freya a 48′ one off design built on Classic lines who was competing in her first race with her current owner, Don Ward. Five boats participated in Class B, Huey Too, Seafalke II, Hightide, Cricket and Freya but in Class A only Challenger turned up meaning that although they came first in each race they also came last!
The second day of the Budget Marine High Tide Series was on Sunday the 22nd December 2019. The first race of the day was a short one with both classes sailing west from the entrance to Falmouth Harbour down to Turtle and Rendezvous Bays, depending on class and back to Falmouth. The second race was significantly longer with a course that also took the boats up to the entrance of English Harbour. Both races were extremely close on corrected times.
The third day of the Budget Marine High Tide Series dawned hot and sunny with a very unusual, at least for this part of the world, southerly wind. Unfortunately Huey Too had to drop out due to technical problems but 5 boats arrived on the start line with the first start at mid-day. Due to the wind it was a beat out to the turning mark off Falmouth Harbour and beam reaches along the south coast of Antigua and back into the harbour.
The wind was forecast to fine away during the afternoon before returning to a more normal easterly direction and the sea conditions were quite lumpy (to use a good nautical expression) so the Race Officer decided to shorten the last race in the fear that if the boats were sent off to Curtain Bluff they may never be seen again….
It all came down to the last race where a light and variable wind switched to a southerly direction and found the fleet doing multiple reaches in choppy conditions. The goal was to keep the boat moving and avoid the frustration of stopping. All the boats managed to complete the fifth race, which counted as double points for the series, just before the wind fell away to nearly nothing.
With only one competitor in Class A with Challenger as winner, the real focus in the 2019 Budget Marine High Tide Series was the “B Class” where very close racing took place. The final win went to the entrant High Tide, the original boat that inspired the founder of the series, the late Jol Byerley to start the series about 25 years ago. Robbie Ferron, new owner and captain of High Tide said: “We had a great competition which ended up with the last race deciding. Our crew included a group of up and coming young Optimist sailors who are going to be really good one day. Watch Antigua when considering the future of Caribbean sailing!”
Second place went to newcomer Freya, a centerboard classic, who showed that she could be highly competitive, enhancing the Antigua fleet both in looks and performance. Third place went to Cricket driven by veteran campaigner Sandy Mair.
The race was followed by an opportunity to swing the lamp with a few drinks, delicious nibbles and salty chat of daring dos on the AYC Event Centre Deck.
Budget Marine, operating three chandleries in Antigua, has been a proud sponsor of the Antigua Yacht Club and the Antigua Sailing community, where events are strongly supported and have been a major component of the success of the Antigua Marine Industry.