The RORC Caribbean 600 fleet on the windward side of Antigua - Credit: RORC/Tim Wright

The RORC Caribbean 600 fleet on the windward side of Antigua – Credit: RORC/Tim Wright

 

The 8th edition of the RORC Caribbean 600 started in spectacular style with the record 70 yacht fleet gathering in the starting area outside English Harbour, Antigua. Under the Pillars of Hercules, the magnificent collection of yachts started the 600 nmile race in a sublime 14 knot south-easterly breeze with brilliant sunshine. The conditions were enough to have the fleet fully ramped up and a not insignificant swell added to the excitement. Five highly competitive starts thrilled hundreds of spectators lining the cliffs at Shirley Heights and Fort Charlotte. Not only was this a record fleet for the RORC Caribbean 600, it was undoubtedly the highest quality of participants since the inaugural race in 2009.
CSA, IRC 2 & IRC 3 Start
24 yachts engaged in a pre-start peloton resulting in a tremendous battle for the line. The all-girl Sirens’ Tigress; IRC 2 champion, Scarlet Oyster and Polish team, Por Favor executed text book starts. However, winning the pin was American Swan 48, Isbjorn. Jua Kali also got away well which was marvellous for the British team who badly damaged their rig in the Atlantic en route to the start.
First to start the 2016 RORC Caribbean 600: CSA, IRC 2 and IRC 3 – Credit: RORC/Tim Wright
IRC 1 & CLASS40
17 yachts started the race with American Sydney 43, Christopher Dragon winning the pin ahead of Canadian Farr 45, Spitfire. Spanish Tales II was the first Class40 to cross the line with Antiguan entry Taz also starting well. Belladonna, skippered by RORC Admiral, Andrew McIrvine had a great start controlling the favoured coastal side of the course.
IRC 1 and Class40 fleet at the start of the 8th RORC Caribbean 600 Race  – Credit: RORC/Tim Wright
IRC Zero & IRC Canting Keel
The most impressive start in the eight-year history of the race featured 23 head-turning yachts. 115ft Baltic, Nikata tried to use her might to win the pin but encountered severe congestion, forcing the superyacht to round the wrong side of the pin. Lithuanian Volvo 60, Ambersail were overeager and with no room to bear away, sailed around the pin end buoy. Irish Cookson 50, Lee Overlay Partners was adjudged OCS and had to restart. Dutch Ker 51, Tonnerre 4 with octogenarian owner Piet Vroon on board had a cracking start, as did Hap Fauth’s Maxi72, Bella Mente going for speed and heading for the lift off the cliffs. Jim Clark and Kristy Hinze Clark’s, 100ft Maxi had a slightly conservative run-up to the line before the big winches growled in a dial-down and Comanche powered up, accelerating into the lead.
The IRC Zero and IRC Canting Keel fleet made an impression at the start of the RORC Caribbean 600 – Credit: RORC/Emma Louise Wyn Jones
Superyacht
The penultimate start featured two of the largest yachts competing in the RORC Caribbean 600. Southernwind 102 Farfalla executed a textbook start to begin the 600-nmile race, assisted by a crew including Steve Hayles as navigator, winner of the race with Niklas Zennstrom’s RAN in 2012. The magnificent sight of 178ft schooner Adix crossing the line under full sail drew gasps from the crowd ashore. Adix is the first three-masted schooner to take part in the race.
The magnificent three-masted schooner Adix at the start – Credit: RORC/Tim Wright
MOCRA Multihull
Six Multihulls including MOD70s Phaedo3 & Concise 10 lined up for the last start of the day. Phaedo3 and Concise 10 locked horns in the pre-start as expected, with Phaedo3 co-skippered by Lloyd Thornburg and Brian Thompson gaining a small but significant advantage at the start. Concise 10 had to tack offshore to escape bad air and ploughed through several spectator boats that had gathered close to the exclusion zone. The two MOD70s are expected to have a titanic battle over the next two days. Belgian Zed 6 reported a broken daggerboard before the start but managed a repair in time to begin the race.
With a south-easterly breeze the fleet took a long starboard tack to Green Island where they bore away for Barbuda hoisting downwind sails. The sleigh ride has already begun for Comanche, Phaedo3 and Concise 10 with the YB tracker already showing the trio hitting close to 30 knots of boat speed. The wind is expected to return to the east before morning and freshen to a possible 20 knots when many more of this magnificent fleet will be enjoying the magic carpet ride of strong trade winds.
Phaedo3 flying two hulls past Willoughby Bay, Antigua – Credit: RORC/Tim Wright
Watching the start from the cliffs at Shirley Heights was RORC Chief Executive Eddie Warden Owen who could not help but marvel at the quality of the fleet: “This is an amazing collection of boats sailed by the best offshore sailors in the world and was shown by the intensity of the start. Each fleet battled for the outer favoured end of the line, caused by the wind being south of its normal easterly direction. No one held back,” said Warden Owen “And I am surprised we only had one boat over the line at the start. The lighter wind increasing as the week goes on, could favour a small boat for an overall win under the IRC rating rule. It will be fun to watch, but I’d much prefer to be out there racing.”
Hundreds of spectators watched the start of the 8th RORC Caribbean 600 from ashore and on the water Credit: RORC/Tim Wright
For more information visit the RORC Caribbean 600 mini-site: www.caribbean600.rorc.org
High resolution images will be available from the race for editorial use and requests for specific interviews/photographs/video should be made to: press@rorc.org
RACE MINISITE: Follow the race on the minisite: http://caribbean600.rorc.org
Keep up to date with all the news. There will be blogs from the boats themselves on the race course, images, video and daily race reports. Follow the action as it unfolds on the RORC Caribbean 600 website.
SOCIAL MEDIA:
Facebook. Follow the race on: https://www.facebook.com/RoyalOceanRacingClub
Twitter: #rorcrc600  – Follow @rorcracing
TRACK THE FLEET:
Every yacht is fitted with a race tracker and their progress can be followed on the race website: http://caribbean600.rorc.org/Tracking/2016-fleet-tracking.html
Join the Virtual Regatta HERE: http://click.virtualregatta.com/?li=4559

 

The Rolex Fastnet Race fleet at Hurst Castle Lighthouse. The spectacular fleet fills the Solent between the Isle of Wight and the mainland shores © Rolex/Kurt Arrigo

The Rolex Fastnet Race fleet at Hurst Castle Lighthouse. The spectacular fleet fills the Solent between the Isle of Wight and the mainland shores © Rolex/Kurt Arrigo

Two months out from the start of the Rolex Fastnet Race, the Royal Ocean Racing Club has made public the latest entry list for its biennial 600 mile race from Cowes to Plymouth, via the Fastnet Rock, starting at noon on Sunday 16th August.

 The entry list makes for impressive reading in terms of scale, diversity and quality of the fleet taking part, confirming the Rolex Fastnet Race’s position as the world’s biggest and most popular offshore race by far.

As of today there are 387 boats entered with a further 74 on the waiting list. If all the boats currently entered were put bow to stern, the line from Cowes would stretch two thirds of the way across the Solent to the mainland (1635.75m).

The bulk of the fleet – 340 entries to be precise – are competing under IRC for the race’s overall prize, the Fastnet Challenge Cup. With the two American maxis: Jim and Kristy Hinze Clark’s 100ft Comanche and George David’s Rambler 88, due to be the pace setters on the water, the IRC fleet will, in due course, be divided into classes and class sub-divisions.

The remaining 47 are not competing under IRC but represent some of the world’s leading professional race boat classes. These include the latest generation foil-born IMOCA 60s, lining up for their first major event in the build-up to next year’s Vendée Globe, plus a large and highly competitive fleet of Class40s. Then there is the 13 strong multihull class featuring Dona Bertarelli and Yann Guichard’s 40m long trimaran, Spindrift 2, the world’s fastest offshore sailing yacht; in 2009 she covered 908.2 nm (ie 50% further than the Rolex Fastnet Race course) in 24 hours at an average speed of 37.84 knots and in 2011, as Banque Populaire V, set the Rolex Fastnet Race multihull record.

The average size of yacht competing in this year’s Rolex Fastnet Race is 44.34ft (13.52m) with Spindrift 2 being the largest multihull, Comanche and Leopard the longest monohulls at 100ft and at the smallest end of the fleet, three 30ft yachts including Myles and Ashley Perrin’s Capo 30, Santana from California.

In IRC rating terms, Comanche and Rambler 88 lead the charge with Time Correction Coefficients (TCC) of 1.973 and 1.869 respectively, while the slowest boat in the fleet is Tony Harwood’s Nicholson 38, Volante,on 0.864 (the minimum permitted TCC this year is 0.850).

An impressive 52 entries are sailing two handed, up from 45 in 2013 when the race was won for the first time in its history by a two handed crew: French father and son, Pascal and Alexis Loison aboard their JPK 10.10,Night and Day.

Hoping to emulate the Loisins’ performance this year is another father and son crew, Derek and Conor Dillon from Listowel in southwest Ireland, who are competing on their Dehler 34, Big Deal. Despite owning the boat for 10 years and campaigning her in many regattas in Ireland, the Dillons have only recently ventured into offshore racing, but nonetheless won the Two Handed class in last year’s Round Ireland Race. With the Fastnet Rock on their doorstep in Kerry, the RORC’s flagship event was an obvious ambition.

Conor Dillon will race Two Handed with his Father Derek on their Dehler 34, Big Deal.
© Dillon Family

As Conor puts it: “We have rounded the Fastnet many times and always dreamed of doing it in the Rolex Fastnet Race. This will be a memorable moment for us for sure. I just hope it happens in day time…

“Every year we are trying to go bigger and bolder. This is an opportunity to compete in a legendary race against the best the world has to offer as well as, of course, making lifetime memories together. There are some seriously talented sailors in this race. You can give it your absolute all, and still not touch the leaders.”

Among the present line-up 180 boats will be competing in the race for the first time, while 163 took part in 2013. Some of the most regular participants are Dutch old hands such as Piet Vroon, winner of the race in 2001 and, at the tender age of 85, back this year with his latest yacht, Tonnerre 4. Then there’s Harry Heijst who has raced his classic Royal Huisman-built S&S 41, Winsome, in seven Fastnets, the first back in 1999.

“The most memorable Rolex Fastnet Race for us was in 2005 when we won Class 2 and came fourth overall,” recalls Heijst. “We were looking good for a first overall until three Class 4 boats suddenly got a lot wind at the Lizard and beat us in.”

Harry Heijst's Winsome
Harry Heijst’s Royal Huisman-built S&S 41, Winsome competing in the RORC Easter Challenge earlier this year
© Paul Wyeth/pwpictures.com

Celebrating its 90th anniversary in 2015, the RORC, for the first time, gave their members priority entry to the race. RORC Commodore Michael Boyd expressed the delight of the club at the overwhelming interest in its flagship event: “Naturally, we are delighted with the enormous interest in the 2015 Rolex Fastnet Race. We now expect almost 400 starters and may have to disappoint many currently on the waiting list.  Of course, there is a way to avoid a let-down in 2017…join RORC! I will be aboard Peter Rutter’s Grand Soleil 43, Quokka 8, in IRC 2 as we continue our ‘joint adventure’ and we hope to have our cruising boat, Southerly, to welcome finishers in Plymouth.”

Michael Board on board Olivia,Contessa 32 at the RYS Fleet Review © Olivia Chenevix-Trench.jpeg
RORC Commodore, Michael Boyd on board Contessa 32, Olivia at the recent RYS Fleet Review bicentenary celebrations
© Olivia Chenevix-Trench
Comanche before its record-breaking run at the 70th Storm Trysail Club Block Island Race. Photo by: Randy Tankoos.

Comanche before its record-breaking run at the 70th Storm Trysail Club Block Island Race. Photo by: Randy Tankoos.

The 70th edition of the Storm Trysail Club Block Island Race yielded winners in ten classes – four IRC (including one for Double-hand), four PHRF, J/44 and Multihull – and a place in the record books for Jim and Kristy Hinze Clark’s new 100-foot Maxi Comanche. Fifty eight boats started the 185 nautical mile race (from Stamford Yacht Club in Connecticut, down Long Island Sound, around Block Island, R.I. and back to Stamford) on Friday afternoon (May 22) of Memorial Day Weekend, with Comanche finishing exactly one second after 2:50 a.m. the next morning, giving her an elapsed time of 11 hours 25 minutes and 01 second.

“Each year I ask the fastest boat in the fleet to give me a call when they are abeam of New Haven on the return,” said Event Chair Ray Redniss about Comanche’s call that came in at 0024 Saturday morning. “This was the earliest one yet, and a new record was established!”
Comanche before its record-breaking run at the 70th Storm Trysail Club Block Island Race. Photo credit: Randy Tankoos. Available to download in high resolution by clicking the photo above

Redniss said that to be precise, this year’s race was one mile shorter than that on which the 90-foot Rambler’s 2013 record of 13 hours 15 minutes and 55 seconds was set. “After 15 years of being at the entrance to Stamford Harbor, the finish line was moved out to the The Cows (Red Bell “32”) in order to allow enough water depth for Comanche to compete; with a draft of 22 feet, only a high tide would allow her to finish in the harbor,” he said. In 2013,Rambler completed the 186 mile course with an average time of four minutes and 17 seconds per mile.  Comanche’s completion of the 185 mile course this year was with an average time of three minutes and 42 seconds per mile. “Speed-wise, this translates toComanche averaging 16.2 knots and Rambler averaging 14 knots.”

Comanche, which won her IRC 4 class, took home the Governors Race West Trophy for best elapsed time in the IRC Fleet; the William Tripp, Jr. Memorial Trophy for best corrected time in the IRC Fleet; and the self-explanatory Harvey Conover Memorial Overall Trophy.

“If I could have drawn the weather map, I think it is what I would have drawn,” said Comanche’s Navigator Stan Honey. The favorable conditions included winds of 15-27 knots and outgoing/incoming tides at all the right times, especially at “The Race” and “Plum Gut,” two notoriously difficult passage choices for exiting and re-entering Long Island Sound.

For Greg Gigliotti (Stamford, Conn.), owner of the 62-foot Gunboat Tribe, which won the first-ever multihull class, nothing could have been more perfect than averaging 20 knots of boat speed and reaching in flat water from The Race to Block Island in a short six hours, then fetching the finish line after returning through Plum Gut. “Everything tipped in our favor; it was a big part of getting a good time (finishing as the second boat, three and three-quarter hours behind Comanche). We had eight adults and three Opti sailors, all sons of fathers onboard. It was their first overnight, so we spent most of the race explaining that most races aren’t like this; normally you are on the rail and normally you’re not moving along at 18-20 knots. They were very lucky to be part of something special.”

Repeating its PHRF class (3) victory from last year was American Yacht Club’s J/105 Young American, another entry with junior sailors, but in this case, the kids were the majority onboard with Peter Becker serving as the team’s single adult safety officer and coach. “Last year, we won our class and finished third overall, which was a huge moment,” said Becker. “This year, we were first in PHRF division and first overall in PHRF, so we bested our performance by a big margin. The kids are on fire; they love it!”

The Young American team was pressured up at the start for their spinnaker run in 25 knots. When the tack of their chute blew out, they switched to a spare and were surfing down Long Island Sound at 15 knots.  “We were all hiking off the stern and hanging with the big boats and double-handed boats.  They started the double-hands, then small to large classes in order, so Comanche was the last start. It was really cool when it went whizzing by us doing 18-20 knots.”

Had Comanche not competed, Andrew and Linda Weiss’s (Mamaroneck, N.Y.) Sydney 43Christopher Dragon would have won overall. The team started ahead of Comanche in the third-to-last start (for IRC 3) and finished the race in a little under 23 hours.  “It’s the fastest race I’ve ever done, and I’ve been competing in this since the mid-1970s,” said Andrew Weiss.  “We got to 1BI in nine hours and were the second monohull around Block Island behind Comanche. Then, coming up the Sound, Snow Lion and Temptation passed us. They normally pass us before Block Island.  We’ve never won overall before; this was the closest we’ve ever come, but Comanche…it’s a different kind of boat, so we still feel like we won!”

Chairman Redniss said this was a tough year for getting boats prepared for the Block Island Race, which was a week earlier than usual. “It was quite cold and harbors were frozen; yards were simply weeks behind.  Overall, we had 68 entries; however eight notified us before race day that they weren’t going to make it, and another two did not make the start. Conditions for the race were near perfect, but of course, another 10 or 12 degrees warmer would have been nice!  We were cold on the Committee Boat overnight; I can imagine there was a lot of shivering on the rail!”

The Block Island Race was first held in 1946 and is a qualifier for the North Ocean Racing Trophy (IRC), the Double Handed Ocean Racing Trophy (IRC), the New England Lighthouse Series (PHRF), and the Gulf Stream Series (IRC). The Block Island Race is also a qualifier for the Caper, Sagola, and Windigo trophies awarded by the YRA of Long Island Sound and the ‘Tuna” Trophy for the best combined IRC scores in the Edlu (40%) and the Block Island Race (60%).This year’s Tuna Trophy was won by Christopher Dragon with first place finishes in both events.

Storm Trysail Club 70th Block Island Race
May 22, 2015 – Top-Three Finishes
Place, Yacht Name, Type, Owner/Skipper, Hometown, Results, Total Points

IRC 1 DH (IRC – 8 Boats)
1. Mireille, J 120, Hewitt Gaynor , Fairfield, CT, USA – 1 ; 1
2. Alibi, J 120, Gardner Grant , Westport, CT, USA – 2 ; 2
3. Pegasus, Beneteau First 36.7, Hartmut Ludwig , West Windsor, NJ, USA – 3 ; 3

IRC 2 (IRC – 8 Boats)
1. Carina, Custom 48, Rives Potts , Westbrook, CT, USA – 1 ; 1
2. Talisman, Farr 395, John Bailey , Darien, CT, USA – 2 ; 2
3. Red Sky, J 122, John Pearson , Setauket , NY, USA – 3 ; 3

J/44 (IRC – 4 Boats)
1. Kincsem, Joerg Esdorn , Katonah, NY, USA – 1 ; 1
2. Vamp, Leonard Sitar , Holmdel, NJ, USA – 2 ; 2
3. Kenai, Chris Lewis , Houston, TX, USA – 3 ; 3

IRC 3 (IRC – 10 Boats)
1. Christopher Dragon, Sydney 43, Andrew & Linda Weiss , Mamaroneck, NY, USA – 1 ; 1
2. Soulmates, Custom Goetz 40, Adam Loory , Mamaroneck, NY, USA – 2 ; 2
3. Warrior Won, Xp 44, Christopher Sheehan , Larchmont, NY, USA – 3 ; 3

IRC 4 (IRC – 6 Boats)
1. Comanche, Maxi 100, Jim Clark/Kristy Hinze Clark , Newport, RI, USA – 1 ; 1
2. Temptation – Oakcliff, Custom Ker 50, Arthur Santry , Newport, RI, USA – 2 ; 2
3. Snow Lion, Ker 50, Lawrence Huntington , New York, NY, USA – 3 ; 3

PHRF 1 DH (PHRF_ToT – 4 Boats)
1. Weegie, Columbia 32, Richard Fleischman , Setauket, NY, USA – 1 ; 1
2. Six Brothers, C-32, Chris Kramer , Rye, NY, USA – 2 ; 2
3. Max, Pogo 10.5, Moritz Hilf , New York, NY, USA – 3 ; 3

PHRF 2 (PHRF_ToT – 6 Boats)
1. Argo, Catalina 400, Boris Keselman , Brooklyn, NY, USA – 1 ; 1
2. Inisharon, F&C 44, Jim Murphy , Rye, NY, USA – 2 ; 2
3. Audacious, Frers 33, Robert Farnum , Oxford, CT, USA – 3 ; 3

PHRF 3 (PHRF_ToT – 11 Boats)
1. Young American, J 105, AYC Jr. Big Boat Team – Becker , Rye, NY, USA – 1 ; 1
2. That’s Ridiculous, Beneteau First 36.7, Francis Nilsen , Sound Beach, NY, USA – 2 ; 2
3. Milky Way, Dufour 40, Alexander Natanzon , Upper Saddle River, NJ, USA – 3 ; 3

PHRF 4 (PHRF_ToT – 2 Boats)
1. Sundari, Farr 400, Barry Gold / Scott Florio , Mamaroneck, NY, USA – 1 ; 1
2. Brigand, Custom 50, Sean Saslo , Branford, CT, USA – 2 ; 2

Multihull (NEMA) (ToT – 3 Boats)
1. Tribe, Gunboat 62, Greg Gigliotti , Stamford, CT, USA – 1 ; 1
2. Fault Tolerant, GB 60, Robert Alexander , Rye, NY, USA – 2 ; 2
3. Infidel, Dragonfly 32, Daniel Galyon , Binghamton, NY, USA – 3 ; 3

OVERALL TROPHIES

GEORGE LAUDER TROPHY – Best performance by a Vintage boat (25 years old +): Kincsem,   Joerg Esdorn

COMMODORE’S GRAIL TROPHY – Best corrected time by a Multihull: Tribe,Greg Gigliotti

GOVERNORS RACE WEST TROPHY – Best elapsed time in the IRC Fleet: Comanche,Jim Clark/Kristy Hinze Clark

WILLIAM TRIPP, JR MEMORIAL TROPHY– Best corrected time in the IRC Fleet: Comanche, Jim Clark/Kristy Hinze Clark

 TERRAPIN TROPHY– Best corrected time in PHRF: Young American, AYC Jr. Big Boat Team

 GOVERNORS RACE EAST TROPHY – Best elapsed time – PHRF: Sundari,               Barry Gold

GEROLD ABELS – Best Performance Double-Handed: Mireille, Hewitt Gaynor

 RODDIE WILLIAMS TEAM RACE TROPHY: Storm Trysail White, Carina/Sundari/Talisman

 TUNA TROPHY – Best IRC combined scores in the Edlu (40%) and the BI Race (60%): Christopher Dragon, Andrew & Linda Weiss

 COMMODORE’S TROPHY – To the boat that has won a handicap class by the smallest margin of time over the 2nd and 3rd place boats: Carina, Rives Potts

 HARVEY CONOVER MEMORIAL OVERALL TROPHY – Awarded to the boat that has won her class and, in the judgment of the Flag Officers and Race Committee, had the best overall performance: Comanche, Jim Clark/ Kristy Hinze Clark

 

Part of the Les Voiles de St. Barth 2015 the fleet at St. Barth   (Photo © Jouany Christophe)

Part of the Les Voiles de St. Barth 2015 the fleet at St. Barth (Photo © Jouany Christophe)

 

Today’s single race for each of 10 classes sailing at Les Voiles de St. Barth determined overall winners and marked the fourth and final day of the regatta. The event has been growing steadily since its inception in 2010 and hosted 70 boats in this sixth edition, all with their own brand of famous sailors aboard from around the world. Boats competing ranged from speedy multihulls such as Lloyd Thornburg’s Mod 70 Phaedo 3 to technologically sophisticated new-builds such as George David’s Rambler 88 and Jim and Kristy Hinze-Clarke’s Comanche (at 100 feet, one of the largest boats here) to the more traditional grand prix racers in the 50-70 foot range and smaller racing/cruising boats. There was even a one design class for Melges 24s (the smallest boats competing) that are as fun, physical and demanding in teamwork and skill as their larger counterparts.
While teams in six classes had clinched their overall victories yesterday (some did not have to sail today’s last race but chose to do so anyway), four classes went down to the wire in 15-20 knot winds that were stronger than yesterday’s but not as strong as on the first two days of racing (Tuesday and Wednesday, April 14-15).
“It was a very interesting race course,” said Lupa of London’s winning skipper Jeremy Pilkington (UK) about his Maxi 2 class’s 28 nautical mile course. It started off Gustavia and went in the opposite direction from days before, wrapping around the western end of St. Barth before using buoys, rocks and islands as waypoints and turning marks on an oblong windward-leeward course set in the Atlantic Ocean. “There was much more going on today than there was on the courses that were set earlier in the week, so it kept us busy. We had a few little challenges and a few ups and downs going around, but we were very pleased with how we did. We had to finish top-three and were assuming that Selene was going to win on handicap, and we did a little bit better than that.” (On corrected time, Selene indeed won, and Lupa of London placed second today to secure the class victory overall.)
In the Spinnaker 2 class, which sailed a shorter version (23 nautical mile) of the 28 miler, Ramanessin, chartered by Germany’s Christian Zugel, had to watch itself against El Ocaso and Ventarron, since they were all one point apart going into today.
“Today it was very tight. We started with one point up, so if we had finished second today we would not have won,” said Zugel. “Right at the start line we were lined up very nicely, but one boat came from the left on the port side and hit us, so you can see some pretty big scratches on the front of our boat but luckily no further damage. We decided to keep going and managed to win.” This is Zugel’s third time at the event, and he has chartered a different boat each time.  Like many others here, his crew is quite international so it’s hard to really say the boat is a German entrant. “I’m German but live in the U.S., and I am crewing with a team of Irish and English sailors who have sailed all over the world, so it is a great experience for us all to be here.”
Claude Granel’s Martinique entry Martinique Premiere-Credit Mutuel won today’s race in Spinnaker 4 (sailing a 17 nautical mile course) to secure overall class victory after going into today with a slim lead. His closest competitor from yesterday, Maelia, slipped to third in the overall standings while Zarafa wound up second. “It was a very tough race, and at the end we just won the race by one second,” said Granel. “What was very difficult was that two team members could not race today, so we went from seven to five onboard, and it was windy – much windier than we thought it would be – but it turned out to be a great race for us.”
James Blakemore’s South African entry Music, in Spinnaker 3, posted another first today to add to his three others from the three previous racing days. “The race was great today – good steady breeze between 16 to 20 knots and great sea conditions,” said Blakemore. “My guys sailed the boat really well; we got off to a really great start, and from the first weather mark, I don’t think we lost the lead in our class from then on. Every day has been good for us.  Yesterday the conditions were a bit tough because we were dealing with the squalls coming through and very light breezes, but fortunately we got through just in time, before the boats really came to a halt. We’ve really thoroughly enjoyed ourselves this week. It’s fantastic coming here; it’s a fantastic regatta.”
Spinnaker 0’s winner Vesper (Jim Swartz, U.S.) finished the regatta with all first-place finishes in the five races it sailed over the four days of racing. “You go into these regattas where you’re in good shape going into the last day, but there is only one way to sail these boats and that is at 100 percent,” said Vesper‘s tactician Gavin Brady about the fact his team didn’t need to sail today in order to win. “Today we pushed as hard as every other day, which is the best thing for the boat and the best thing for the team.”
It was a different sort of day on the left side of the island, because more time was spent negotiating wind shifts in flat waves, making it more tactical than on the right-hand side where the fleets had sailed for the previous three race days.
Lloyd Thornburg’s U.S. entry in Multihull class, Phaedo 3, spent its regatta leaving the seven other Multihull class entries in its wake and won again today for a fourth time over four races. “It was a great event,” said Thornburg, who on Wednesday established the Multihull record for a newly introduced 43-mile course that will be repeated here each year. (Comanche and Odin established the records for Maxi 1 and Maxi 2 classes, respectively) “Today the wind came back, which was nice, whereas yesterday was a little bit light for us. For our boat, this was the most challenging course, so it was a lot of fun.”
Not so much fun was Gunboat G4 Timbalero III’s dramatic capsize today. No one was injured, and the brand-new foiling catamaran was righted within two hours.
Puerto Rican entrant Lazy Dog, skippered by Sergio Sagramoso, also added another victory to his score line of all firsts to win Spinnaker 1 class. “Racing was a lot of fun today, and the start was incredibly critical. There were four classes (on the line), around 40 boats, so it was probably the hairiest start I’ve ever done. The first start was a general recall; the second start, our main competitor (Hamachi) was hit, so it was pretty dramatic. But we had a great time, and the conditions suited us. It was beautiful like usual. We’ll be back next year; great racing and hands down the best organization we’ve ever seen.”
Bobby Velasquez (St. Martin), winner of Non-Spinnaker class  in L’esperance, agreed: It’s wonderful here in St. Barth, and it’s a wonderful organization. We’ll definitely be back for the regatta again next year.” L’esperance had nothing but bullets in its score line.In Melges 24s, the St. Martin team of Budget Marine GILL topped the leaderboard. Skipper Andrea Scarabelli said, “This is one of the events we love the most. Racing in one-design is always nice because you are racing at a similar pace. The goal is to keep building the Melges 24 class. This year we were only four boats, but we hope to get more.”
The event’s largest, fastest boats sailed in Maxi 1 class, and it was George David’s Rambler 88 that won the four-race series there. All eyes had been on Rambler 88 and the larger Comanche during the first two race days, since no one had yet seen the two boats sail against each other. The powerful Comanche showed blazingly fast speed, taking line honors in every race. It was Rambler 88, however, that prevailed with corrected-time performances that gave the team three first-place finishes in a row. By today, when Rambler 88 took second to Hap Fauth’s U.S. entry Bella Mente, the focus had returned to who was doing the best on ratings. Rambler 88 maintained its place at the top of the scoreboard, but Bella Mente was able to replace Lucky as runnerup. Bella Mente, Lucky and Comanche had all shared the same point score after today’s race, but Bella Mente’s performance handed the tiebreaker to their team.
“I’m very happy,” said David. “I think we sailed very well to rating, and we are just a click off Comanche. Of course, they have the big-boat edge and get in front, and that tends to help a little bit, but I am impressed by how fast we are. In fact, I’m very impressed. This boat is wicked quick and I think we’ll do even better in the future. I don’t count us out for records, including the Transatlantic Race 2015 this summer, which we hold already (with Rambler 100).”
At the prize giving, Principal Event Partner Richard Mille presented George David, who also was the overall winner of the Maxi division, with a Richard Mille Caliber RM 60-01 Regatta watch.FULL RESULTS: https://app.regattaguru.com/lesvoiles/100085/results 
2015 Entry List: www.lesvoilesdesaintbarth.com

Part of the Les Voiles de St. Barth 2015 the fleet at St. Barth   (Photo © Jouany Christophe)

Part of the Les Voiles de St. Barth 2015 the fleet at St. Barth (Photo © Jouany Christophe)

 

 

 

Phaedo 3 (Photo  © Jouany Christophe)

Phaedo 3 (Photo © Jouany Christophe)

 

Les Voiles de St. Barth: Starting off Just Right With winds whipping briskly at 15-20 knots, it was a lively show on the water for opening day of Les Voiles de St. Barth. After an equally lively opening party held on the Quay General de Gaulle last night, 70 teams in 10 classes were raring to begin what they really came here for: hard core racing. The regatta organizers, knowing their audience, took no prisoners, sending Spinnaker 1,2,3 and 4 plus Non Spinnaker and the Melges 24 classes on a 23-mile course that started off Gustavia Harbor and led counter-clockwise and three quarters of the way around the eight-square-mile island of St. Barth before rounding a buoy off St. Jean and heading back in a clockwise direction. For the Multihulls and the larger monohulls sailing in Maxi 1, 2 and Spinnaker 0 classes, a similar course added an extension on the far side of the island to incorporate a total of 39 miles.

 

“Today was typical St. Barth conditions–20 knots of wind, big waves and a lot of reaching legs, so it was a lot of fun being on a boat like a TP52 and surfing downwind in big waves,” said Gavin Brady, tactician aboard Vesper, which was today’s winner in the six-boat Spinnaker 0 class. “We had a good day, starting the regatta off with a win. We have large spinnakers on the boat for this event…so it worked out really well. We hope these conditions last for the rest of the week.”

Vesper had a scare yesterday when one of its side stays, made of carbon, gave way.  Luckily, a rigging shop in St. Martin was able to provide a rod-rigging replacement overnight.  “Carbon rigging is fine for the big boats like Comanche and Rambler where they have bigger safety margins for going out in the ocean, but with a little TP52 blasting around St. Barth or doing the Med Series, it’s another story,” said Brady.

Vesper is sailing against two other TP52s (Sorcha and Team Varg, which finished second and fourth, respectively), but third-place Spookie poses a threat, too. “We are in a class with TP52s, which in every handicap system seem to be the sweetheart boats,” saidSpookie’s Strategist Peter Holmberg. “We know we just need to sail out of our league to beat them.”

The Mod 70 Phaedo 3 handily won the seven-boat Multihull class, which was the last of the 10 classes to start. The foiling G4 Timbalero III’s successful attempt to port-tack the fleet at the start looked swift, but it wasn’t swift enough to hold off the giant green trimaran, which started slightly late at the windward end of the line but came screaming in with all the power of a giant eagle swooping in for its prey. While Timbalero III continued on starboard tack out to sea, Phaedo 3 continued on port tack to shore, no doubt giving sunbathers at Shell Beach a shock as she flew by on one hull, then tacked up the shoreline for a horizon job done not only on the other multihulls but also the entire fleet.

 

Phaedo 3 finished the long course in just over two hours and 25 minutes, approximately 34 minutes ahead of the next fastest boat in the fleet, Comanche, whose long-awaited battle with Rambler 88 yielded some answers today. Though Comanche beat Rambler by ten minutes in real time, which pleased her crew, Rambler had to be satisfied with beating Comanche on corrected time (5:04:48 compared to Comanche’s 5:11:30), even with a spinnaker problem that forced them to change headsails and cost them several minutes.

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Taking second in Maxi 1 class, where they are grouped with Rambler 88, Comanche and Bella Mente, was Lucky, with Mark Watson standing in as driver for owner Bryon Ehrhart (who will arrive to drive tomorrow). “We sailed a good race; we really didn’t have any big mistakes at all,” said Watson. “When you think about it, normally the team that wins is the team that has the fewest mistakes. A happy boat is a quiet boat, so everybody was pretty dialed in together, and the boat was immaculately prepared, so I couldn’t ask for more.”

Bella Mente, a favorite here, unfortunately was unable to race today because of an equipment failure that occurred only a few minutes before the start. “We had a hiccup today, but you can bet we’ll be out there and ready to race tomorrow,” said owner/driver Hap Fauth.

In the Maxi 2 class, Lupa of London led the way today, while in the Spinnaker 1 class,Lazy Dog won. VentarronMusic and Martinique Premiere-Credit won the Spinnaker 2, 3 and 4 classes, respectively. L’esperance took Non-Spinnaker class, while GFA Caraibes won the Melges 24 class.

Fleet (Photo © Jouany Christophe)

Fleet (Photo © Jouany Christophe)

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Right here, right now. This is it. Seventy teams have finished practice and final preparations for Les Voiles de St. Barth and will start racing tomorrow (Tuesday, April 13th) in what promises to be this year’s most provocative regatta in the Caribbean, if not the entire yacht racing world.

 

Headlining as a first-time matchup between the marine industry’s newest break-through speed creations are Comanche and Rambler. A balance of eight other Maxis between 63 and 90 feet in length with highly recognizable names such as Bella Mente, Lucky, Odin, Lupa of London, Selene and Aragon makes this the most formidable Maxi Division that has shown up here since the regatta’s inception six years ago. Extremely tight competition also will be found in five Spinnaker Division classes as well as in classes for Racing Multihull, Non-Spinnaker and Melges 24 one-designs. Forerunners in these classes will no doubt distinguish themselves before the Lay Day on Thursday (April 16), if not sooner. (The second half of racing for Les Voiles de St. Barth resumes on Friday and Saturday, April 17th and 18th, for a total of four racing days.)

Onboard Comanche (Photo © Jouany Christophe)

Onboard Comanche (Photo © Jouany Christophe)

 

Comanche and Rambler will sail in the Maxi 1 class with Bella Mente and Lucky but will start on the same line as the other Maxis, which will be sailing in Maxi 2 class. Scores will be tallied separately for each class; however, a combined score for all Maxi Division entries at the regatta’s conclusion will determine the winner of the Richard Mille Caliber RM 60-01 Regatta watch. (Richard Mille is the principal sponsor of the event.)

The two Maxi classes and five Spinnaker classes are sailing under the CSA rating, as defined by the Caribbean Sailing Association, and have been split into their classes according to rating bands. “We have defined the classes with a true sense of equity,” said Les Voiles’ General Commissioner Luc Poupon. “The idea is to create groups that are as homogeneous as possible so that the battle on the waves is as tight and exciting as possible.”

As for how that rating will play out in the Rambler vs. Comanche battle, no one yet knows, but all are curious. Optimizing for ratings was not a priority in the design or building of either boat, as both were conceived for straight-line speed, specifically to break distance records. (Rambler, at 88 feet, is 12 feet shorter than Comanche.)

“We’re not here for rating honors,” said Comanche’s helmsman Ken Read. “Our goal is to be first to finish (over the line), and clearly it will be a lot of fun lining up against Rambler, a very similar boat, for the first time. They’d like to beat us boat-for-boat, and we’d like to beat them boat-for-boat, so I think the sailing world is excited to see this. We’re excited to see this.”

For any of the 27 different course choices with distances ranging from 10 to 42 miles, the start and finish lines will be set near Pain de Sucre and Gouverneur Beach, on the southwest side of the island. Something new this year for the smaller boats: two inflatable buoys in the colors of Richard Mille—the first in the bay of Saint Jean and the second in front of Gouverneur—will be placed so that the public can see the boats sail closer to the shore. Also new, the Race Committee has planned for one day, weather depending, to start the fastest big boats on course number 27 (a loop between St. Barth and the island of Tintamarre, to the east of Saint Martin) in order to give all reaching-optimized boats an opportunity to show their speed and establish a speed record for Les Voiles de St. Barth.

“We have to race the courses as fast as we possibly can, and they (Comanche and Rambler) will be great gauges for what is happening in front of us with the wind,” said Terry Hutchinson, who will serve as Bella Mente’s tactician in the Maxi 2 class. “We have to be smart in the pre-start, because they can have a pretty big impact to our race early on. Once they’re out in front and away from us, then it’s simply a matter of sailing the boat as well as we possibly can and executing the sail handling maneuvers as well as we possibly can, because things happen very quickly on this course. I think this plays into our favor, because Comanche and Rambler are just going faster all the time, so everything is very condensed for them. If we have ten minutes on a leg, they have five. “

While the shorter races will be better for Bella Mente and the 42-mile race will be better for Comanche and Rambler, Hutchinson said it will be interesting to see how they all match up in the 25-mile race. “They have very good sailors on their boats and we have good sailors too, so when they take a race off us they will have sailed well, and when we take a race off them, we will have sailed well.” Last year Bella Mente was leading when its mast broke on day three. “We feel like we let ourselves down a bit when that happened, so we want to come back and redeem ourselves this year.”

At tonight’s opening ceremonies Bruno Magras, President of the Collectivity of St. Barth, shared the stage with Les Voiles de St. Barth officials, including the event’s honorary ambassador and French sailing legend Loick Peyron. A minute of clapping (rather than a moment of silence) was observed to honor the inspired life of French offshore sailor Florence Arthaud, who recently died in a helicopter crash

Fleet in practice (Photo  © © Jouany Christophe)

Fleet in practice (Photo © © Jouany Christophe)

 

Comanche has unfinished business with Wild Oats XI after being bested by just a few miles due to light airs in the middle of the course (Photo by Rolex/Carlo Borlenghi)

Comanche has unfinished business with Wild Oats XI after being bested by just a few miles due to light airs in the middle of the course (Photo by Rolex/Carlo Borlenghi)

 

As far as the America’s Cup winning skipper Jimmy Spithill is concerned, there is now unfinished business between Rolex Sydney Hobart line honours winner Wild Oats XI and the US supermaxi she beat across the finish line, Comanche.

Spithill was one of six helmsmen on Comanche.

“We can’t leave it at that,” he declared after finishing in Hobart. He says that on his watch this morning the boat reached a top speed of 32 knots and knows what she is capable of.

“Everybody got to see the true potential of this boat at the start. I remember looking up at Kenny (Ken Read, the skipper) and he just had this huge grin from ear to ear. Unfortunately we just didn’t see those sort of conditions again until the end of Bass Strait.”

COMANCHE (USA), 2nd across the line in the 2014 Rolex Sydney Hobart Race Finishish Line COMANCHE, Sail n: 12358, Bow n: 58, Design: Verdier Yacht Design & Vplp, Owner: Jim Clark & Kristy Hinze-Clark, Skipper: Ken Read (Phot by Rolex/Carlo Borlenghi)

COMANCHE (USA), 2nd across the line in the 2014 Rolex Sydney Hobart Race Finishish Line COMANCHE, Sail n: 12358, Bow n: 58, Design: Verdier Yacht Design & Vplp, Owner: Jim Clark & Kristy Hinze-Clark, Skipper: Ken Read (Phot by Rolex/Carlo Borlenghi)

Of course, young James doesn’t pay the bills. Logistically it is impossible for Comanche to come back to Australia next year but is 2016 likely?

Skipper Ken Read deferred to co-owner Kristy Hinze Clark who said it was a matter for the Big Chief, husband Jim Clark.

Ken: “Kristy, they want to know if we’ll be back next year?”

Kristy: “They’ll have to talk to big chief!”

Ken: “Big chief is not going to talk about that now!”

Read reflected on the crucial point of the race – the high-pressure ridge in Bass Strait.

“We were about a quarter of the way into Bass Strait and expecting a westerly breeze, and all of a sudden Stan (navigator Stan Honey) came up from down below and said ‘I just got a new weather file, this is not looking good’.

“We were two miles ahead of them, in bumpy seas, and they literally went by us, probably going a knot or two faster at the time, and they just sailed into more pressure and just kept extending on the whole fleet.

“Both boats sailed a flawless race; but they had their day. They had 12 hours where they had Wild Oats’ weather, but that’s racing.

“You can already see Comanche is already changing sailing as we speak,” Read said.

So after this first race have they identified any changes they will make to the boat?

“Here’s the start of my list,” he said, holding up a piece of paper with top-secret to-dos written on it.

“It’s brand new, we’re just starting. Before this race started, we didn’t know what we didn’t know. We knew we had a good boat right off the start line, the way it just took off on that windy reach.

“Unfortunately we’ve always known we had that one blemish in light air, and that became a dominant feature in the race, so that’s unfortunate for us.”

Designer Xavier Guilbaud said he couldn’t take his eyes off the yacht tracker, keeping notes as Comanche changed angles and the wind circled the compass.

And, he was a bit more forthcoming with his list.

“I’m excited to see Ken’s list, but on top of my own list, what I can see, is work on the weight of the boat to try to lighten her up a bit more, to increase performances in light winds,” he said.

“I’ll discuss with the guys here, a little later, the little bits and pieces on the deck to improve manoeuvres, how the boat is sailed. Then on the sail configuration; how to use each sail, in which condition and improve the sail shapes.

“I think we do have a record breaker on our hands. The real answer will be in June next year when it does the Transatlantic Race. I think the boat is really fast.”

Read was effusive in his praise of the Wild Oats’ crew.

“Wild Oats deserves all its success,” he said, though fate had been against them on Day 2 in Bass Strait when Wild Oats made the better of negotiating a weather ridge that proved the defining moment of the race.

“This was their day; they had their 12 hours; they had Wild Oats’ weather; but that is boat racing,” he said.

“They deserve their eighth record, Lord knows we tried hard to take it from them. This team, our team, did an unbelievable job, and special credit to the boat builders and the design team because Lord knows we tried to break it, and it wouldn’t break.”

By Bruce Montgomery, RSHYR Media

 WILD OATS XI (AUS) set the actual racecourse record in 2012 Race Start - WILD OATS XI, Sail n: AUS10001, Bow n: XI, Design: Reichel Pugh 100, Owner: Robert Oatley, Skipper: Mark Richards  (Photo by Rolex/Carlo Borlenghi)

WILD OATS XI (AUS) set the actual racecourse record in 2012 Race Start – WILD OATS XI, Sail n: AUS10001, Bow n: XI, Design: Reichel Pugh 100, Owner: Robert Oatley, Skipper: Mark Richards (Photo by Rolex/Carlo Borlenghi)

 

Wild Oats XI  leads the 2014 Rolex Sydney Hobart fleet in for a record eighth line honours win.  Wild Oats Xi finished the race in a time of  :  2 Days,  2 Hours,  3 Minutes and 26 seconds.

The only yacht capable of denying Wild Oats XI and Mark Richards an 8th win and a place in history was the American Maxi Comanche.  Ken Read and crew gave their best but weren’t able to close the 10 mile gap in the final stretch through Storm Bay and the Derwent River and to the finish line in Hobart, Tasmania.

The Mark Richards-skippered Wild Oats XI extended her lead throughout the second night, taking advantage of a high-pressure ridge in the Bass Strait. Wild Oats XI’s lead proved to big for the Comanche team to overcome.

COMANCHE (USA) crashing through the waves on the way south to Tasmania Race Start COMANCHE, Sail n: 12358, Bow n: 58, Design: Verdier Yacht Design & Vplp, Owner: Jim Clark & Kristy Hinze-Clark, Skipper: Ken Read (Photo by Rolex/Carlo Borlenghi)

COMANCHE (USA) crashing through the waves on the way south to Tasmania Race Start COMANCHE, Sail n: 12358, Bow n: 58, Design: Verdier Yacht Design & Vplp, Owner: Jim Clark & Kristy Hinze-Clark, Skipper: Ken Read (Photo by Rolex/Carlo Borlenghi)

The remainder of the fleet are compressed coming down the New South Wales coast and expected to benefit from the dramatic increase in breeze forecast from Sunday evening to Monday morning.

Of the 117 yachts which started the race, nice have been forced to retire. The Maxi Perpetual Loyal

Follow the race on the live tracker:

http://www.rolexsydneyhobart.com/tracker/

 

 

Photo By: Rolex / Carlo Borlenghi

Photo By: Rolex / Carlo Borlenghi