It is an incredible honor to be here celebrating the close of another successful Antigua Sailing Week – the 50th edition no less – and be part of the celebrations of this landmark sailing event.
I would like to start by congratulating all of the owners, skippers, and crew members who participated in five adrenaline fueled days of racing. Over 150 yachts joined in the races this year, including the world’s top racing and performance cruising boats.
Old and young were joined, with Sir Richard Matthews took part in his 37th Antigua Sailing Week, whilst 18-year-old Jules Mitchell who has never skippered at a regatta before had his initiation into the all that’s great about Antigua Sailing Week. Boats and sailors have come from far and wide – with 33 different countries represented and over 1,000 sailors and thousands of spectators.
Antigua Sailing Week is not for the faint of heart. For five days crews were challenged with a variety of amazing race courses, which encouraged some spectacular tacking duels around the buoys, with the added element of our ever-present trade winds that were piping up to 20 knots in the gusts. These past five days have meant long days and early evenings, particularly for the crews. Now, it’s finally time for everyone to celebrate – for everyone is a winner, even if you did not claim a trophy. You were able to take part in a historic milestone for one of the most prestigious regattas in the world. They say, a trophy carries dust. Memories last forever. So we hope that you all take away only warm memories of an unforgettable 50th anniversary of Antigua Sailing Week.
So it is now time for you to celebrate the success of your days and the comradery of the racing and crews. Tonight? You can finally stay up late!
And what a venue it is to be staying up late in: one of our most famous and historic properties in Antigua and Barbuda – the Copper and Lumber Store, that is of course located within our UNESCO World Heritage Site, Nelson’s Dockyard and Park the sailing and yachting “Mecca” of the Caribbean.
I would of course like to also thank everyone who has come to be a part of Antigua Sailing Week. Not all of us have the skills needed to sail in the races, but the event would not be the same without the thousands of you that come to watch the races and support the sailors and crew. You are just as important to the event and Antigua and Barbuda welcomes you each year with open arms.
While we celebrate our Golden 50th Anniversary, I must go on record to thank the hard working members of the organizing committee and management and staff of the National Parks and Ministry of Tourism who all worked tirelessly to make this event the success that it has been. The close of this year’s event just means we begin to celebrate the beginning of the next 50 years of this event.
Ladies and gentlemen you are here at 50 – but you must join us for 51. So I personally invite all of you to return once again next year. We are not resting on our laurels, but are continuing to expand various events around the island so that Sailing Week remains the most prestigious regatta in the world. We are setting no limits as to where the next 50 years will take us
Again, congratulations to everyone and do enjoy the rest of the evening!