By Gavin Menu
A marriage between two local beneficiaries and the tourism board from the twin islands of Antigua and Barbuda has resulted in one of the biggest sailing races in the Northeast with a rewarding—and relaxing—prize for the winning captain and crew.
The Antigua & Barbuda Hamptons Challenge Regatta will return to Sag Harbor and the Breakwater Yacht Club for the second consecutive year on Saturday, August 17. Racers will compete for the grand prize of an all-expenses paid trip for six to Antigua including airfare through American Airlines, lodging and an elite charter boat to compete in the 2014 Antigua Sailing Week, one of the premier sailing events in the world.
Two local organizations, the Breakwater Yacht Club’s Junior Sailing program and I-Tri, a Hamptons-based program that helps young at-risk girls through participating in triathlons, will benefit from the race, according to Rob Roden, who helps organize the event for the Antigua & Barbuda Ministry of Tourism and its minister, John Maginley.
“It’s the largest amateur sailing prize on the east coast of the United States,” Roden said this week, adding that people should visit www.VisitAntiguBarbuda.co.uk to learn more about the destination and what would await the winner. “We expect to have 50 boats this year.”
Roden said only members of the Peconic Sailing Association or captains from the 12 local, East End yacht clubs would qualify to win the grand prize this year, although other captains are welcome to enter the race.
“We want somebody local to win the prize,” he said.
The race is open to any boat that is at lease 22 feet in length, with a PHRF rating of 200 or less, said Jim Ryan, who is a race organizer. There are six or seven potential courses, Ryan said, adding that the ultimate course would be determined by wind conditions. Either way, the course distance will be about 15 to 20 miles, and Ryan estimated the race will last about three hours.
It was Ryan who won the inaugural race last year aboard Wasn’t Me, and as a result he and some members of his crew and family traveled to the islands last spring and competed in Antigua Sailing Week.
“We had a blast,” he said this week, adding that one rule of the event prohibits the same person from winning the grand prize for a second time. “It’s an exceptional prize. We had a great boat and there were races every day for a week. We ended up second out of 14 boats in our division.”
Teams can learn more about the event and register for the race by visiting www.AntiguaBarbudaHamptonsChallenge.com. The cost to register is $125 per team prior to August 1, and $150 after that with registration closing on August 10. The fee also includes two tickets to the gala and awards ceremony following the race at Havens Beach. The public is invited to the party, which will include a steel drum band, hors d’oeuvres and an open bar. Tickets are $40 in advance, or $50 at the door.
To learn more about the beneficiaries of the race, visit www.breakwateryc.org and www.itrigirls.org.