The series for wooden classic boats goes from strength to strength, and this year the organisers expect more than 500 entries over a year of racing that in 2012 will include 10 rounds. The Antigua Classic Yacht Regatta was the first round, and the finale will be the Régates Royales, in Cannes from 25 to 29 September.
British classic sailing enthusiasts can look forward to the Panerai British Classic Week in Cowes, from 7 to 14 July.
Under the stewardship of Panerai CEO Angelo Bonati, the famous Italian watchmaker rescued the 70ft Thirties ketch Eilean from a mouldering fate in a mangrove creek in the West Indies, where she had lain since an accident befell her after starring in the ‘Rio’ video by Duran Duran.
Eilean was built by the famous British boatbuilders William Fife & Son on the Firth of Clyde, in 1936. After the War, it was owned by the famous British lawyer William (later Lord) Shawcross. After a complete restoration at a yard in Genoa (the hull and all remaining spars were sent by container ship to Italy), the totally refurbished Eilean now sails the seas again.
And it was back to Antigua that the Eilean voyaged, to be reunited with the remaining members of Duran Duran, including sailing enthusiast and lead singer, Simon Le Bon. The local Nelson’s Dockyard put on an exhibition of the story of the boat and its connections with the island.
After five days of fierce competition, the Winner of the Panerai Prize for First Overall Classic Class was Saphaedra. Winning 1st Place in the Spirit of Tradition Class A was Rebecca. The winner of Vintage Class A was Mariella, helmed by Carlo Falcone with Dennis Conner.
Eilean, helmed by Andrew Cully - and, for several races, Simon Le Bon - won the Woodstock Restoration Trophy in Vintage Class A for Best Restored Yacht. Dorade won First Place in Vintage Class B, and was also the Overall Winner for the Concours d'Elegance, with Eilean receiving a special mention from the jury.
Eilean will now return to the United Kingdom where she will participate in the 3 June Thames Diamond Jubilee Pageant, a formal river procession in honour of Her Majesty The Queen in her Jubilee year.