By Makeida Antonio
The world-renowned Antigua Sailing Week is set to return this year after a two-year absence due to the sustained impact of Covid-19.
So far, 66 vessels have registered for races, a figure that’s slightly above the average for this time of year, and President of Antigua Sailing Week Alison ‘Sly’ Adams said that the event’s success during the Covid-19 pandemic could be impacted by other Caribbean boat races.
“As you know, we’re the last event so what we’ve been doing is waiting to see what happens across the rest of the region because that would impact us in a positive way if events go ahead, and in a negative way if they don’t,” Adams said on the Good Morning Jojo sports show yesterday.
She illustrated the current logistics of boat racing in Barbados as an example of how the regatta can proceed during the pandemic.
“As we speak, Barbados Sailing Week is happening. It’s a very small event and the biggest part of that event is the round the island race on Saturday — which I think is a fleet of 10 boats — but they’ve had different classes of boats on the water and just trying to reengage people in the fact that you can race in Barbados,” she indicated.
Events and Marketing Manager for Antigua Sailing Week, Rana Lewis, who also appeared on the show, reported that many people are eager to participate in the Caribbean’s oldest regatta once again.
“Absolute eagerness. I think people are chomping at the bits to come here and to go sailing, to get out from wherever they are, in whatever conditions they have been enduring for two years. They’re really excited to come here.
“We’ve got friends coming, boats that have been here before, we’ve got new entries, we’ve had two new entries over the weekend. It’s steadily building; we keep getting queries,” Lewis said.
She also disclosed that the Antigua Sailing Week Planning Committee has already begun strategising on ways to accommodate existing Covid-19 protocols during scheduled events, both on sea and on shore, including the prizegiving ceremony which will likely be virtual.
“Strictly sailing events would be five days of racing. They get to go out two or three races a day and then when they come back in, they’ll basically be bound by whatever protocols are at the time. They can patronise the local bars and restaurants, they can go on their own activities,” Lewis said.
Meanwhile, Lewis has assured vendors who normally are able to supplement their income during Antigua Sailing Week that they are being considered, once there is compliance with protocols put in place.
“It’s not organised by our team, but we basically enable the activity. As far as our most recent discussion, that will be happening. Of course, they will have to comply with whatever the situation is, we’ll have to look at the layout and the sanitisation processes and how to maintain a safe space while outdoors.
“We’ll be encouraging the sailors, if there are no social events that we organise, they go out and make their own activities by patronising these vendors, making reservations and booking their tables,” Lewis stated.
The first event for Antigua Sailing Week is scheduled for May 1.