April 25, 2014

The 27th Antigua Classic Regatta

The 83-ft Fife schooner Adventuress, now 90 years young, shows her stuff in this year’s windy Antigua Classic Regatta.

© 2014 Tim Wright

If there is a better classic regatta in the world than the four-race Panerai Antigua Classic, sailed off historic English Harbor, we’re not aware of it. This year’s 27th running featured a terrific fleet of 60 Classic or Spirit-of-Tradition yachts. There was a tone of sadness, however, as founder Kenny Coombs had passed away quite suddenly only months before. After duly recognizing the event founder, everyone carried on in the manner Kenny would have wanted. And the conditions were ‘classic’ Antigua Classic conditions — winds in the low 20s most of the time, with generous tradewind seas.

To get an idea of how terrific the fleet was, one would only have had to look to the five-boat Vintage Class A fleet. It was won by Mariella, Carlo Falcone’s Alfred Mylne 79-footer, built in 1936. Second was Scott Frantz’s Herreshoff-designed and -built 72-ft Ticonderoga of Greenwich, which was built in 1929. Third was Trygve Bratz’s 88-ft Baglietto Serenity from 1927. Fourth was Matt Brooks’ S&S 52 Dorade, built in 1929. (Brooks, a member of the St. Francis YC, had recently been named ‘Yachtsman of the Year’ by his other club, the New York YC. Dorade was raced by a team of women dinghy sailors.) Fifth was Mathew Barker’s Mylne 65 The Blue Peter, built in 1929. The Blue Peter had been dismasted in the Classic last year, was taken back to the Med to get a new, taller mast, and returned to the Caribbean. All five vintage yachts were in spectacular condition.

The 105-ft Bruce King-designed Whitehawk, which abovedecks looks to be the big sister of Ticonderoga. (Seen here in a previous regatta.) She was the overall winner of the Classic.

©2014 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

Lone Fox, the Robert Clark 63 owned by Ira Epstein of Bolinas and St. Barth, had won overall honors in the Classic two years in a row. This year she dropped to third in Classic Class A, a class that was won by the Bruce King-designed 105 Whitehawk, which was also named the overall winner.

Of the 12 divisions, only two were won by boats with perfect records, and both came from the same small Gannon & Benjamin Yard of Martha’s Vineyard. Nat Benjamin sailed Robert Soros’ 65-ft schooner Juno to four bullets in Classics Class B, while Antonio Salguero’s 45-ft Eleda took Classics Class C with all bullets.

If classic yachts are your thing, the Antigua Classic is your event. It’s an inclusive scene and crew are often needed. In addition, there are plenty of social events for networking. Latitude highly recommends the Classic. 

What’s Slower Than Snail Mail?

While perusing the UK Guardian last month we came across a fascinating item about a German fisherman who pulled a brown beer bottle out of the Baltic Sea near Kiel, only to discover that it had a message in it scrawled on a very old post card. It was not a call for help, as is often depicted in movies. The note simply requested the finder return it to the writer’s home address in Berlin.

Once in the hands of researchers at Hamburg’s International Maritime Museum, the bottle’s origin was eventually traced. Turns out it was chucked into the Baltic 101 years ago — a record, for those who keep track of such things, especially since the bottle was completely intact.

Through handwriting analysis, accessing old residency records, and other means, researchers determined that the note was penned by Richard Platz, a baker’s son, then 20,  who threw the bottle in the Baltic while on a hike with a nature appreciation group in 1913. Amazing.

A Berlin-based genealogical researcher determined that Platz had died in 1946, but he was able to track down his  62-year-old granddaughter Angela Erdmann, who lives in Berlin. Although she never knew her grandfather, she was understandably shocked. "It was almost unbelievable," she said.

We’ve found all sorts of odd stuff floating in the sea, but never a bottle with a note in it. How about you? If so, email your story to us here.

Free Dashew Weather Books

Weather forecasts are one of the most talked-about topics in any cruiser gathering, often because they’re so often wrong or misunderstood, and so much depends on accurate forecasting when you’re in a small boat in a large ocean. 

For decades, Steve and Linda Dashew have been the leading authorities on active heavy weather tactics, with their books Mariner’s Weather Handbook and Surviving the Storm taking up valuable — and well-earned — space on nearly every sailor’s bookshelf. Now the Dashews want everyone to have access to their work and are offering free PDF downloads of both books. 

Ramtha during the infamous and tragic Queen’s Birthday Storm in 1994.

Steve Dashew
©2014 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

“Dashew Offshore, Beowulf Publishing, and the FPB team have been blessed with the support of the cruising community for many years, and we’d like to return the favor in a small way,” they wrote on their blog, SetSail.com. “We are making these two books, Mariner’s Weather Handbook and Surviving the Storm, available for free as PDF files. We hope Mariner’s Weather Handbook helps you avoid the need for Surviving the Storm. If these books help a few of our fellow cruisers have a more enjoyable experience, and perhaps stay out of difficulty, we will have been amply repaid.”

Even if you have the hard copies of these books, the PDFs can be easily loaded onto your tablet or computer for quick and easy reference whenever the weather gods decide to get frisky. Click HERE to be taken to their site; the download links are at the end of a fascinating post on forecasting, storm tactics and successful cruising.

For everyone who raced the 35th annual Doublehanded Farallones Race this past March 22, be sure not to miss tonight’s trophy presentation at Oakland YC, at 7 p.m.
When you are forced to use your hands to defend against a machete attack, you can come away with some nasty souvenirs.