Jul 09 » A BIT OF HISTORY

The event boat park and regatta offices are located in Nelson's Dockyard, a cultural heritage site and marina in English Harbour, named after Admiral Horatio Nelson, who lived in the Dockyard from 1784 through 1787. The Dockyard is home to some of Antigua's sailing and yachting events such as Antigua Sailing Week and the Antigua Charter Yacht Meeting, and now to the second edition of the "Optinam".

It is a priviledge to be able to visit such a unique location, where every corner is home to 200 years of history; and we thought it would be interesting to learn a bit about its past and share the information with you. This is a brief summary of what we've found:

In the early eighteenth century, the British Royal Navy recognized the strategic importance of English Harbour in protecting ships from hurricanes and in its position at the south of the island for monitoring French naval activity. (The harbour gained its reputation as a safe natural harbour in September 1723 when a hurricane swept ashore 35 ships lying in other ports in Antigua, while the HMS Hector and HMS Winchelsea, both moored in English Harbour, suffered no damage.)

Throughout the eighteenth century, the dockyard grew in importance, as it was the only harbour in the Eastern Caribbean large enough for safe naval ship repairs. In 1889 the Royal Navy abandoned the Dockyard and it fell into decay. The Society of the Friends of English Harbour began restoration in 1951 and a decade later it was opened to the public. Among the original buildings are two hotels, a museum, craft and food shops, restaurants, and a large marina. Hiking trails radiate across the surrounding national park.

The National Parks Authority, managed by a government statutory body and qualified technicians, is dedicated to restoration and the continued preservation of the buildings in the Dockyard, under the guidance of Management, Development and Financial Plans that also provide a legal base.

On a further reading, we learnt about the symbols in the logo of the National Parks Antigua, based on their first objective: "To preserve, protect, manage and develop the natural, physical and ecological resources and the historical and cultural heritage of Antigua and Barbuda"

The three “angular stones” of History, Environment, and Culture represent the past, the place and the people and make up the "Interpretive Triangle". In the symbol, history is represented in the graphic depiction of Georgian Military Architecture, and the sun shines on the mountain peaks of the islands, set in the blue sea. History brings the population to an environment which together creates an ambiance; these blend overtime, establishing permanently the unique character of the people and their land.

Photos © Matías Capizzano: http://www.capizzano.com/optinam-2016/

Event contact email address: amneris.calle@gmail.com, opticlass@yachtclub.ag

ABOUT THE CHAMPIONSHIP

The SEABOARD MARINE Optimist North American Championship 2016 is organised by the Antigua Yacht Club under the authority of the International Optimist Dinghy Association (IODA). The venue is Nelson's Dockyard in English Harbour and it takes place from July 10th to July 18th. Entries are still open and it is expected to have +160 participants from more than 15 countries. Already entered: Argentina, Antigua, Brazil, Bermuda, Canada, Chile, Peru, USA, US Virgin Islands, British Virgin Islands, Switzerland, New Zealand, Australia, Japan, Mexico.

For a programme, click here.

Major Sponsor: SEABOARD MARINE

Other Sponsors: Antigua and Barbuda, Antigua Yacht Club Marina Resort, The Catamaran Hotel, National Parks Antigua, Oasis, Pinehill, Antigua Pro Racing, Club Sushi, Brydens and Yao.

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The organisers of the Optimist North American Championship 2016 together with the Antigua Yacht Club wish to thank the following for their support, donations and contributions without which these championships would not be happening.