Antigua and Barbuda Hamptons Challenge Returns Saturday to Sag Harbor

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The Honorable Charles Henry Fernandez, the Minister of Tourism and Economic Development for Antigua and Barbuda, center, was joined by Colin C. James, left, and Dean Fenton of the Antigua and Barbuda Tourism Authority in Sag Harbor last year. Gavin Menu photo

Rob Roden passed away last August one week before a regatta tying two distant sailing communities was set to go off in Sag Harbor. The Antigua and Barbuda Hamptons Challenge moved forward despite the loss of its leader and now Roden’s wife, Theresa, is moving ahead with this year’s event this Saturday, August 10, in and around Noyac Bay. A Caribbean after party will be held at the Breakwater Yacht Club, where the winning sailor will be awarded an all-expenses paid trip to Antigua Sailing Week, one of the most celebrated events in the world for the sport of sailing. The Express caught up with Theresa Roden this week to talk about the coming weekend.

Tell me about your family’s connection to Antigua and Barbuda. You’ve spent a lot of time there and made a lot of friendships, correct?

My husband Rob loved the water —  he was a surfer as a teenager and then an avid boater as an adult. We chartered a boat in the Caribbean for our honeymoon in 1995 and we both fell in love with the islands, the people and the culture. A few years later we started publishing the Captain’s Guide and later the Captain’s Mega Yachts Magazine, which included travel sections on Antigua and Barbuda. Our family was able to spend time in Antigua each year and we formed incredible friendships with the locals we would meet there year after year. They became a part of our family and we a part of theirs, often getting photo updates on children and grandchildren, sharing in each other’s celebrations as well as sorrows.  

Theresa and Rob Roden.

The event started as a way to promote Antigua and Barbuda to the summer crowds on the East End. The regatta, hosted by the Peconic Bay Sailing Association, has a prize that is billed as the biggest sailing prize on the East Coast. Can you tell us about how that all works together?

Rob saw the similarities between Sag Harbor and English Harbor in Antigua. Both are world-renowned ports for both their rich nautical historical significance and their modern yachting convenience. He envisioned an event that would bring these sister ports together and that’s where the idea of the Antigua Barbuda Hamptons Challenge came from. This year sailors from all over Long Island Sound will once again battle it out for the chance to win an all-expense-paid trip for a winning captain and crew of five to participate in Antigua Sailing Week 2020. The trip is sponsored by the Antigua and Barbuda Ministry of Tourism. The winner will sail on a boat provided by Dream Yacht Charters and captain and crew will stay at the all-inclusive St James Club Resort in Antigua!  Past winners have all touted this as the experience of a lifetime.

How much did Rob enjoy this event and being out on the water in general. He was very fond of Antigua and Barbuda. 

The outpouring we received from our Antigua family was overwhelming following the news of Rob’s illness and passing last summer and when we went back this winter to celebrate the holidays there as Rob had planned, they greeted us with open arms and wet cheeks.

The post-event Caribbean cocktail party moves from Havens Beach to the Breakwater Yacht Club this year. What can guests expect? 

We are all very excited to be back at Breakwater Yacht Club for the awards party this year — you can’t beat the sunsets from the deck and couple that with delicious Caribbean-style food, great beer and wine and the amazing Antiguan Steel Drum Band — we are in for a great night. The event is also a fundraiser for i-tri — transformation through triathlon — the empowerment program for middle school girls on the East End and our team has gathered some fabulous Chinese auction prizes. Tourism Minister Charles Fernandez and Colin James, the CEO of Tourism, will be present at the event and they are committed to making sure that everyone gets to feel the warmth and hospitality of the beautiful islands of Antigua and Barbuda.

For more information on the regatta, or to buy tickets to the after party at Breakwater, visit antiguabarbudahamptonschallenge.com.

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