The Antigua Charter Yacht Show 2015 (This complete editorial can be found at: www.yachtingmatters.com Edition 30)
54 shows - 54 successes
By Colin squire
Between December 4-10th many of the world’s finest charter yachts, sent by their owners to the Caribbean for the 2015 winter season, gathered on the docks around the Falmouth and English Harbours to await visits from many hundreds of attending Brokers and Vendors. These true professionals make their annual pilgrimage to Antigua to view yachts and network amongst the palm trees and historic buildings, some that date back as far as 1725 when English Harbour became the home of His Majesty's Naval Dock Yard and Nelsons triumphant Caribbean fleet.
The area is now inundated with many fine dining restaurants, the wonderful Catherines Café Plage that is set back from Pigeon Beach in amongst the palms, the rustic Trappas Bar & Restaurant, fine food and a favourite of crew and attendees alike, the newly opened and romantic Boom, reclaimed from the old Powder House during a recent renovation, the institutional Abracadabra where the best Italian food is to be found and everybody’s favourite and a must for those that like to party the night away, South Point, again new on the scene but great service with views over the Yacht Club Marina and the YCM restaurant that sits above the Yacht Club office and attracts the best of clientele. These are just a few of what’s on offer to the discerning eater, and as you travel the area you will find other restaurants, run by locals and offering great local food to give that full on Caribbean experience.
This unique area of Antigua, indeed the Caribbean, has grown immensely over the past few years, new Villas costing Millions of $ are sprouting up almost overnight to feed the need for quality development. Indeed a fitting home for this age old institution, the Antigua Charter Yacht Show.
Can these restaurants compete with the yachts that sit in English Harbour, Falmouth Harbour and the A.Y.C., they may try but there is really nothing akin to being invited aboard one of these fabulous vessels to enjoy being absolutely spoilt. Superb and unique dishes are the order of the day and night, wine to die for, many of us do and service by staff with skills honed over the years, or if recently qualified holding certificates from the best training facilities in the world. They are all set to pamper and spoil, as they compete to impress the discerning Brokers that will bring their personal clients to them, putting their own reputations on the line in the process.
The yachts, as you can imagine, are kept in perfect order, if there were but one or two to choose from it would be easy, but here on these docks there are many and the competition is fierce.
I had the honour of being invited onboard State of Grace, a Y.CO managed yacht for lunch on the first day. She is not the largest yacht in the show at 129ft, neither was she the newest, built in 2013, others were newer, but the food served up by her French Chef, the masterful and gifted Florence Bel, a veteran of the sea with 17 years of onboard service behind her, was quite incredible. Also with five languages under her belt she is able to discuss a menu with whoever calls her into the saloon. Her food was incredible, undoubtedly prepared to Michelin standards, she plied me with mouth-watering delicacies that I will never forget as Cpt. Quentin amused us all at the table with his anecdotes of the sea. I had intended to leave far earlier than I did but at the end of the Show I have to say that State of Grace well deserved my personal Yachting Matters Chefs award. I would spend a cruise with that pair and the crew anytime, anywhere.
But of course there was another more serious Chefs event taking place amongst the other yachts: The 16th Annual Charter Chefs Competition that is superbly organised by Sarah Sabastian and her team. Any yacht appearing in the show can enter and there are three sections each with an award for the best chef and table setting. The lucky judges for this competition selected the following deserving winners:
Yachts 160 ft and over:
1st place: Yacht Inception - Chef Scott Dickson
1st place: Yacht Sea Wolf - Stewardess Ekuabe
Yachts 126 ft to 159 ft
1st place: Yacht Lady J - Chef Ben Dineen
1st place: Yacht Mim - Stewardess Zanytana
Yachts up tp 125 ft
1st place: Yacht Zeepard - Chef Michelle Bonetti
1st place: Yacht Zeepard - Stewardess Jessica De Beer
Of course the event is not just about food, it is about the yachts themselves and as we know different charterers require different vessels that suit their needs and pockets. The 192ft M.Y. Capri, Calisto at 213ft, Seanna also 213ft and the impressive 295ft retro yacht Nero, that one evening staged the most incredible curry evening to coincide with the retirement of her long serving Cpt. Nick Przybylski. Also there were the sail yachts, the replica Schooner Germania Nova, the ultra-modern 180ft Marae and 184ft Panthalassa. Of course I cannot name every yacht but there were yachts to suit all, power and sail, large and small.
I mentioned the party on Nero, every night there were yacht hops on the different docks with all visitors invited. I was left with the impression that nowhere else in the world were there evenings as those in Antigua during those few days. But anybody thinking of going in 2016 better be warned, as many Brokers as sign up can attend, but there were many Vendors this year that were refused a pass, many arriving thinking they could just pay their fees and walk the docks. The number of vendors is now limited, and the rules are strict, I am on the committee and I know what angst this causes the organisers, only two vendors per company are now allowed.
But of course this article would not be complete without mention of the 2015 Yachting Matters - Captains Soiree Charity Dinner. This event over the past few years, in association with the ACYM board, has raised a significant sum of money for the English Harbour Children’s Charity. Initially we simply set out to rebuild the local Cobbs Cross School and now the Charity has spread its wings to help care for local underprivileged children, supplying them when needed with food and medication, plus any other necessary requirements. It has always, and I have been attending since 1991, amazed me that we as an industry reap the benefits of this beautiful corner of the Caribbean, many benefit greatly from its beaches, harbours, the sun and sea and yet cannot see it in themselves to give just a little back. There are many wonderful benefactors to the area, I applaud you all, but if in your hearts you can open your wallets and give just a little to the children just think how much the future will benefit our industry and all those that visit. The children of today will be the adults of tomorrow and as English Harbour and Falmouth grow we will need those well taught and healthy children to help run the amenities that will surely feed our industry.
The Soiree evening was sponsored by the very deep pockets of BWA Yachting, IMM – International Marine Management, MTN (an EMC Company), MYBA – The Worldwide Yachting Association, Tai Ping Carpets, and Yacht Fuel Services. The evening took place at the Pillars Restaurant in the historic grounds of The Admirals Inn, English Harbour. 150 Captains, their Partners, Sponsors and Guests sat down for a sumptuous meal complimented with superb champagnes, wines and brandies and of course the meal was preceded by a toast of fine Antigua Rum. After the meal had finished the traditional auction of donated items took place, which as always raised a wry smile and a great sum for the charity, with the star turn being, as has become the norm, the fine rug donated by Tai Ping and a large donation by Pantaenius Sail & Motor Yacht Insurance.
Also after the event, on the 11th, Yachting Matters partnered with AnD Yachting & Concierge Services to host the first Antigua AnD Golf Charity Event, also in aid of the English Harbour Children’s Charity Fund. It was a great day out for all concerned at the Cedar Valley Golf Club. The event will be staged again after the 2016 ACYM, so, if you are attending the show, bring your clubs along or hire them on the day and join in the fun.
2015 was a great show and I look forward to the 2016 event, unbelievably it will be my 26th, I would love to meet you there but remember, if you do not book early you may well not be allowed to join in, what has to be, one of the greatest shows on Earth.
Dates for 2016: 4th – 9th December