Back in the 60s, classic yachts, which were gathered in English Harbour Antigua, had begun chartering and the captains and crews challenged each other to a race down to Guadeloupe and back to celebrate the end of the charter season. From this informal race, Antigua Race Week was formalised in 1967, and in those days all of the yachts were classics. As the years grew on, the classic yachts were slowly outnumbered but the faster sleeker modern racing yachts and 24 years later the Classic Class had diminished to a few boats and was abandoned in 1987. However this same year seven classic yachts turned out and were placed in Cruising Class 3 with the bare boats. The class was so unmatched that it was downright dangerous, so Captain Uli Pruesse hosted a meeting onboard Aschanti of Saba with several classic skippers and in 1988 the Antigua Classic Yacht Regatta was born, with seven boats.
In 1991, Elizabeth Meyer brought her newly refitted Endeavour and Baron Edmond Rothschild brought his 6-meter Spirit of St Kitts and “CSR” became the first Sponsor and inaugurated the Concours d’Elégance. In 1996 we created the “Spirit of Tradition Class”, which has now been accepted all over the world, which gives the “new” classics, built along the lines of the old, a chance to sail alongside their sister ships. In 1999 we celebrated the first race between the J class yachts in 60 years. Mount Gay Rum has sponsored the Regatta for many years, and we have recently added Officine Panerai as our first ever Platinum Sponsor.
The Antigua Classic Yacht Regatta has maintained a steady growth, hosting between 50 and 60 yachts every year and enjoys a wonderful variety of competitors, including traditional craft from the islands, classic ketches, sloops, schooners and yawls making the bulk of the fleet, together with the stunningly beautiful Spirit of Tradition yachts, J Class yachts and Tall Ships.