The Antigua Yacht Club is hosting the 21st annual Antigua Classic Yacht Regatta. The history lesson began by looking at the 70 classic yachts that are competing in the regatta. They are fantastic. Two of the four remaining America’s Cup J class boats are here: Velsheba and Ranger.
Ranger won the cup in 1937. She is a sleek, 136 foot steel-hulled wonder.
The craftsmanship that goes into restoring and maintaining these yachts is remarkable.
The crews are constantly polishing, varnishing or repairing something all the time so they are in Bristol condition and the owners and crew love to show them off at this event.
The town was buzzing with activity. Owners, crew members and support staff are prepping the boats for the regatta, while fans and cruisers mingle among them. In the evenings, bands and parties hosted by the Regatta sponsors are in order. The whole affair has an air of casual class and elegance about it. We even saw the British royal family yacht docked up at the Antigua Yacht Club Marina.
At the marina, there is a grocery store where you can dingy to the front door. Due to the regatta the store opens at 6:30 am. Every morning during our stay at Falmouth Harbor, I dinghied in while everyone aboard the Adamo was still sleeping and bought fresh baked bread and homegrown tomatoes for breakfast.
On race day we headed out of the harbor on Loon (47 Hylass) to watch the jockeying for position at the starting line.
Ranger and Velsheba displayed their racing pedigree. While all the remaining boats in there class were on a beam reach heading for the starting line, the two J boats were close hauled running parallel to the line. Then they tacked just behind the line right before the starting gun went off. They were ahead 4 to 5 boat lengths within the first 60 seconds of the race and never looked back. As Ian put it: “It was brilliant!”
The following day, we took the boys on a field trip to English Harbor (which has been fully restored as a museum) for the next history lesson.
English Harbor was of great strategic importance to Britain in the 18th century. It served as a dockyard for the British navy during a time when the country was at war protecting its interests in the Caribbean. At the time, the sugar producing islands of the Caribbean generated vast wealth for Britain and were the center of the lucrative Triangle of Trade. The boys saw how difficult it was to keep the massive ships in working order and afloat. Ships had to be careened every few months to dry the wood and paint the hulls to prevent wood worms from eating through the wooden hulls.
That evening the history lesson continued. Susan’s mom brought down several DVD movies, one of which was a Marylyn Monroe movie: “Some Like It Hot”. I was shocked to find out that the boys had never even heard of her. So we told them who she was and proceed to watch the movie. Phil was not thrilled about it to begin with because the movie was in black and white and it was “old”. I did catch him laughing throughout the film, so I guess it couldn’t have been that bad.