Sail Away, Sail Away-Antigua Sailing Week

by Arie Boris


The skipper turned our boat hard to port as a line of sleek hulled racing sails rapidly approached. Baring down, the ten racing sailboats careened past and all at once, as if choreographed, tacked into the wind around the race track marker. Brightly colored sails dipped closer to the waves, as eight to ten crew members sat on the opposite gunwales, legs tangling over the edge to prevent their mounts from capsizing.

Antigua-Sailing-WeekAntigua Sailing Week (ASW) has become one of the world’s most prestigious sailing competitions. It draws the best and most competitive racing teams from all over the globe. Although new to the sport, with just some basic details and a preliminary primer, we boarded our observation boat. Within minutes of the start of the first race, we were able to experience the thrill and exhilaration of this majestic sport!

For twenty years, during the last week of April, sailing aficionados have descended onto Antigua to compete or just to enjoy the spectacle of Antigua Sailing Week. Land lovers as well as sailors alike can enjoy all of the festivities of ASW, as there are many non-competing yachts that tag along to witness the action first-hand, and there are fantastic look-out points around the island from which to view the daily races.

Antigua Sailing Week began in 1967 with only 10 boats, and from small beginnings, the regatta has developed into a world-class sailing event. In past years, the event has seen over 200 entries, and has grown to now also include an ‘Ocean Series’ for boats that prefer ocean racing.

Along with the races, there are parties, social events and scheduled activities related to the regatta, the different teams and the world of yacht racing. The ASW Event Village is located in Nelson’s Dockyard, English Harbour and is the central point at which all the crews gather at the end of the day’s racing to exchange stories and enjoy happy hour from 3 to 6 PM. There is a combination of background and live music every day and evening in the Event Village and some nights there are parties in various other locations. Mid-Sailing Week, there is no racing but the famous Antigua Sailing Week ‘Lay Day’ events are not to be missed! Check out this YouTube video for all the action.

One of the best things about Antigua Sailing Week is it occurs at the beginning of the “off season” so you can stay at luxury resorts and take advantage of incredible savings! The island was originally part of the British Empire before independence, so you can expect lots of upscale Brits, their families and a very civilized infra structure. There are several lovely resorts among which I would recommend.

Curtain Bluff

One of the original getaway resorts on the island, Curtain Bluff, is a classic island getaway. Don’t expect to watch television in your room(they do have a guest TV room along with an Internet cafe in the main building…Wi-Fi is also available in guest rooms). Accommodations are comfy, on the beach and just steps away from the waters edge. The gardens, grounds and facilities are lovely and originally designed to keep you far away from your everyday life at home. Meals are wonderful with breakfast at the main restaurant served among lush flowers with swarms of humming birds flitting among the blooms. Lunch is presented daily as an impressive open air buffet just off the beach, while dinner is a more traditional affair with a dress code: no shorts! In the old days, at this resort, guests were required to wear full evening dress. In general, staff was pleasant, although I found the main dining room staff rather aloof at times.

Blue Waters

This ultra luxury resort has all the bells and whistles. The moment I stepped into my Cove Suite, I knew I would have a hard time leaving this place! The enormous room was beautifully decorated in beiges and dark woods. In the bath, lush towels, bathrobes, luxury soaps and shampoos awaited, along with both an antique style tub and separate marble shower. The cinema sized TV screen offered first run movies and there was a Bose player available as well. Just outside the bedroom was a glorious infinity pool surrounded by landscaped gardens and a variety of exotic birds. The beach is a short walk away down a bluff…I never bothered, since the pool area was so beautiful and relatively deserted throughout my stay. Staff here is a wonderful reflection of General Manager, Anderson Howard’s exceptional leadership. The restaurant venues are delightful and once the Executive Chef position is filled, this resort promises to become one of the top destinations in the Caribbean!

For information on Antigua Sailing Week 2015, visit here.

About Author:

Arie Boris has extensive travel industry experience, including business and sales development for commercial aviation, the International emergency assistance & travel insurance industry and a national association of travel agents. He was a contributing editor to several print and Internet travel publications, including Fieldings’ Worldwide Cruise Guide and was part of the start up team for CruiseCritic. He has written over 400 cruise ship reviews. Arie also produces and hosts Cruise Gourmet Voyages, a variety of fundraising & theme group cruises for various charitable and arts organizations. He has produced theme cruises for a variety of special interest groups including opera, comedy, spiritual retreats and fan clubs for TV shows like Dark Shadows and Dancing with the Stars!