April 18, 2018
With the long- awaited Antigua Classic Yacht Regatta now upon us, it is easy to get swept away with the beauty and elegance of a bygone era. Approaching Falmouth Harbour, the skyline is awash with majestic masts towering above buildings, drawing vertical lines in the striking azure sky. Gleaming varnish, impressive rigging, and glorious lines, everything that makes a classic yacht so extraordinary. There is certainly something magical and romantic associated with classic yachts, and it is hard not to let the imagination run wild, with images of swashbuckling pirates, and barrels full of rum! Private owners, as well as those that have chartered one of these magnificent vessels, will enjoy six days of scheduled races and fun during this popular regatta.
Fortunately, Falmouth Harbour has moved on from its blood-thirsty and violent past, and is now a popular harbour that is bustling with activity during the yacht charter season. Huge superyachts, and timeless classics line the dockside, where Nelson once commanded his ships. It is a sight to behold. The picturesque English Harbour makes a fitting backdrop for the Classic Yacht Regatta Parade which takes place on Sunday 22nd at 1.30pm. Over the years English Harbour has managed to maintain its charm and beauty, and as the only working Georgian dockyard in the world, it was recently awarded the UNESCO title, to preserve and protect the remarkable site.
There are several classic yachts that are available for private charter, and you certainly don’t have to commit to a race, or regatta if you do! These timeless classics have been restored to their former glory, with all the comfort and luxury that you’d expect when chartering a yacht.
Eros, available for charter
The Blue Peter, is a stunning example of one of the classic yachts that is available for private charter. Launched in 1930, she is renowned worldwide on the classic yacht circuit, and has a worthy reputation not only for her race successes, but also for her exquisite styling, and flawless appearance. She was designed by Alfred Mylne and built by W. King & Sons of Burnham-on-Crouch.
The current owner, Mathew Barker, took ownership in 1999, while he was traveling. He spotted her in Elba, and realised her potential. Having been neglected, and altered from her original form, Mat spent 3 years restoring her to her former glory, and when the coffers ran dry, made the decision to try his hand at chartering, having decided not to return to his previous career in banking.
Mat has enjoyed a successful career in chartering The Blue Peter in the Mediterranean, Caribbean and now the States. She is a popular choice for both racing regattas, and for those that just want to escape for some relaxation on a timeless classic. I caught up with Mat on his return to Antigua for the 2018 Classics Regatta. Having had the misfortune of losing his mast during the 2013 regatta, I wondered if this race also held more fonder memories of late.
Captain Mat Barker
With The Blue Peter tied up outside the Galley Bar at Nelson Dockyard, a convenient location(!), Mat was waiting for the imminent arrival of his charter guests. Mat has been taking part in the Antigua Classic Yacht Regatta for many years now, and has found it to be a well run and organised event. In fact, it was the late Kenny Coombs, one of the founders of the Classic Regatta, that encouraged Mat to venture over from the Med to give the Caribbean a go. Mat explained how privileged he was to have raced alongside Kenny on The Blue Peter, finding him to be a truly inspirational character.
When asked why he thought that The Blue Peter had been such a successful charter boat, the answer was simple. She is the perfect size for racing and regattas, she can accommodate 10 guests and 2 crew, and can achieve an impressive 11 knots. When people enter races they want to win, and The Blue Peter has an impressive success record. As well as races and regattas, she is a popular choice to charter for corporate events and groups of friends. Mat explained that the boat can be set up ready to go for when the guests arrive, or for those that like to fiddle and tinker, they can be more involved in the setting up. The range of sailing experience that guests possess can range from complete novices, to American Cup Sailors. Mat is happy to help teach the basics to enthusiastic novices, as well as step back for the more competent sailors.
Immaculately presented, The Blue Peter
With the arrival of his charter guests, a group of experienced sailors, I wished them the best of luck in the upcoming regatta. With the plan to spend Wednesday and Thursday practicing, their official racing will start on Friday, as they have chosen to forego the Single-Handed Race on Thursday. With four days of intense racing, we hope for the perfect weather racing conditions for them.
To find out more about chartering The Blue Peter, visit the website www.thebluepeter.com
By Laura Barber