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Organisers of Antigua Sailing Week say they are already receiving entries from sailors across the globe keen to attend next year’s six-day regatta.

The popular annual event is a key fixture of the country’s sporting and social calendar and is estimated to have directly injected more than $7 million into the local economy last year.

This year would have seen its 53rd edition but was cancelled due to the Covid-19 crisis.

As the virus continues to impact countries worldwide, plans to stage the 2021 regatta are nonetheless gathering pace, with yachties optimistic of some return to normality regarding racing in the coming months.

“Antigua Sailing Week was the first regatta of its type in the region and continues today to create important economic activity for the island as well as destination marketing year-round,” said the event’s president Alison Sly-Adams.

She said many local businesses had been “hit hard” by 2020’s cancellation.

“The event creates vital revenues for the entire island which in turn facilitates businesses being able to support themselves over the long summer period. The financial burden was immediate,” she continued.

“As an organisation we acknowledge the responsibility of ensuring we can deliver an event for 2021 as the world battles to operate with Covid-19 protocols and restrictions in place.”

Organisers are now hard at work on the race formats and shore-side protocols to ensure the safety of all involved in the regatta slated for April 24 to 30.

The non-profit body is also launching a ‘Friends of Antigua Sailing Week’ initiative
to help fill a sponsorship gap and meet operational costs.

 “As we commit to delivering an excellent week of racing for our participants in 2021 we hope that our long-term supporters will see the value in assisting the event and ensuring that the show can go on,” Sly-Adams explained.

“We know that the international yacht racing season was massively impacted this year and that many sailors are anxious to get back to racing.

“We look forward to welcoming them back to an event for 2021 which will surpass all of their expectations and deliver safe interactions modified to adhere to local guidelines in place at the time.”

She said the team was pleased at the level of enthusiasm displayed so far.

“There has been a lot of interest in taking part which we are very happy about. As Covid continues to make its impact felt, some people are naturally worried about committing to travel but there are already many boats in the country and a lot more in the region than there would be normally. We are very confident next year’s event will go ahead and be a success,” Sly-Adams told Observer.

In addition to the five high-energy race days, highlights of Antigua Sailing Week have traditionally included a lively opening parade, parties in Nelson’s Dockyard including the well-attended Reggae in the Park, lay day festivities on the beach, and the final awards ceremony.

Supporters are invited to sign up for amounts starting from US$200. Donations of any size are also welcome. Visit www.sailingweek.com/friendsofasw, email [email protected] or call (268) 725-6651 for more information.

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