Sea History 116 - Autumn 2006

Page 44

Under Sail at the Antigua Classic Yacht Regatta by Philip J. Webster



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as t Spring, a cadre of NMHS members joined together for an exhilarating week of sailing on Star Clipper, the largest barquentine underway in the world, culminating with two days of sailing in the 19th Antigua Classic Yacht Regatta. It was a sailor's dream come true. Star Clipper is 360 feet long, with a main mast that reaches 226 feet aloft; she carries 36,000 square feet of canvas in her rig. She may be a comforrable, even luxurious, cruise ship, but she can really move under sail. When we were sailing off English H arbour durin g th e races , a squall bore down on us, heeled the ship Hardy volunteers help hoist the sail, stirred over, put the portholes of our on by Star Clipper's chanteyman. 2,298 gross ton ship under water, and sent dishes flying in the dining room. Our hardy volunteer crew sprang to Captain Brunon Borowka's orders, striking sail as fast as we could. Thousands of yardage of canvas and rigging flapped and howled in the rain and wind. It was a thrill, bur we never forgot that in the Age of Sail, neither passengers no r crew reveled in a squall that overwhelmed the sails and strai ned the rig-not to mention the moods of the seamen who were sent aloft to secure them. Star Clipper, the Largest barquentine in the world, The squall passed as suddenly under sail at the Antigua Classic Yacht Regatta as it came, and the cleared horizon revealed the fleet of some 54 classic yachts in the distance-the replica of the J-boat Ranger in the lead with the H erreshoff twin beauties Eleanora, a 136-foot gaff schooner, and Ticonderoga, a 1936 72-foot ketch, nor far aste rn . In between two days of sailing, parrying, and yacht gawking in Antigua, we learned a lot about sailing we didn't know. We were introduced to a dizzying array of rigging, had crash courses in knot tying, and bonded with our shipmates as we pulled together in the wo rk of the ship in the race. We were living the dream of Cap rain Uli Pruesse, a master seaman who passed away in 2004 after helping found the Tall Ships Wo rld Peace C up Competition at the Regatta, which now rakes place annually. "There really is no difference," Uli had said, "between a little classic boar, a grand classic yacht, or a tall ship at the start of a race. We all have rhe same reason fo r being in Antigua-to meet each other, share in the beauty of the classic yach ts and ships, and perform with classic seamanship and good will." ,!,



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