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.
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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
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Rambler 100 Reacing in Waves In The RORC Caribbean 600, 2011 (Photo by Tim Wright)

Rambler 100 Reaching in Waves In The RORC Caribbean 600, 2011 (Photo by Tim Wright)

George David’s maxi yacht, Rambler 100, crossed the finish line in Antigua in the early hours of Wednesday morning in an elapsed time of 1 day 16 hours 20 minutes and 2 seconds.

Subject to official confirmation, Rambler 100 has broken the monohull race record set by race rival, Mike Slade’s ICAP Leopard by nearly four hours.

Two of the world’s most impressive racing yachts have been locking horns over 600 miles of high-speed action in a fight to the finish. Competing against each other for the first time and battling it out to snatch the record for the third edition of the RORC Caribbean 600.

The Rambler crew contained the entire compliment of the Puma Ocean Racing team which will be competing in the 2011-12 Volvo Ocean Race, tired but elated, Puma skipper, Kenny Read commented dockside in Antigua:

“That was a lot of fun but hard work for a while, you do something like sail around the world and that is almost easy compared to this, because there is no time to take any sleep, you’re taking so many corners and turns but it is also a gorgeous course, it’s a dream come true type of event. I am glad we came and that George invited me. Probably the most memorable part of the course was at night with a full moon at the top of St. Maarten, big breeze and massive breaking waves, it was huge fun and really cool, we came out of their doing 26 knots, it has been a real adventure and a this course and Rambler 100 is a whole new dimension for sailing.”

Rambler 100’s George David, an avid sailor and member of the New York Yacht Club, has been sailing with Kenny Read for 17 years.

“Rambler 100 is quite a handful, it’s like a Volvo 70 on steroids and this is a big fast race, which favours us,” commented David. “It is part of the Atlantic Ocean Racing Series, the RORC Caribbean 600 has been a great race as part of that series. We never took this win for granted, we have carried out some optimisation towards the IRC rating and we really didn’t know how we would perform, as this is the first time that the boat has been raced to be IRC competitive. Leopard is a powerful boat and they are a good team that has been sailing together for a number of years.

Thank you to the RORC and the Antigua Yacht Club, a lot of people have put a great deal of effort into making this a great race, I think this race is going to attract a lot of competitors, we have a record fleet this year and I can only seeing it growing, I think we will be back next year.”
IRC Overall Provisional Results
 
1.  USA25555  Rambler 100     JK 100            George David   
2.  CAN84248  Vela Veloce     Southern Cross 52 Richard Oland  
3.  GBR115L   Sojana          Farr 115          Peter Harrison  
4.  AUS5299   Jazz            Cookson 50        Chris Bull  
5.  GBR1R     ICAP Leopard    Farr 100  Mike Slade Mike Slade/Clarke Murphy
6.  IRL5005   Lee Overlay Partners Cookson 50   Adrian Lee   
7.  GBR22N    Aegir           Carbon Ocean 82   Brian Benjamin  
8.  GBR4321R  Oystercatcher XXVIII Humphreys 54 Richard Matthews  
9.  NED46     Tonnerre de Breskens 3 Ker 46     Piet Vroon  
10. LTU1000   Ambersail       VO 60             Simonas Steponavicius  
11. US60006   Venomous        Carroll Marine 60 Derek Saunders  
12. USA60271  Ocean’s Seven²  Fauroux 104′ OSML Ltd JP Chomette
13. NED001    Windrose Of Amsterdam Dijkstra 40m Schooner Andrew McIrvine 

 
Follow the rest of the fleet as they complete the race on the Carribbean 600 race tracker brought to you by Yellowbrick
HERE

Rambler 100 Launches off a wave (Photo by Tim Wright)

Rambler 100 Launches off a wave (Photo by Tim Wright)

Beau Geste Upwind Day Two (Photo by Carlo Borlenghi)

Beau Geste (Photo by Carlo Borlenghi)

Although several boat are still racing, Richard Bamford’s Swan 38 Dolfijn retired this morning which means that at tonight’s prize giving Karl Kwok’s Farr 80, Beau Geste, will be awarded the RORC Caribbean 600 trophy for best yacht overall under IRC, the line honours trophy for monohulls and Class trophy for IRC Super Zero.

“I have never cleaned up as well before so it feels really good,” smiled Karl Kwok upon hearing the news. “There may have been a lack of wind but we kept on going all the time and when the wind was with us we had flat water and some fantastic sailing. Beau Geste has a great spirit, I have been friends with Gavin Brady for two decades and we sit down and decide who we will have on board. Friendship is very important to me, we choose the best sailors but also the right people. I have to say a big thank you to Gavin Brady and the two watch captains, Jonno Swain and David Endean but all of the crew did a great job.

Beau Geste races all over the world and I would like to invite all of the competitors we come across to do this race. The sailing is as good as can be and I have enjoyed it immensely.”

Winner overall of the CSA division and second place overall under IRC is Richard Oland’s Southern Cross 52, Vela Veloce.

“We had a close battle with Privateer who beat us by less than a minute in our last encounter, so beating them this time was a bit of payback,” admitted Richard Oland, skipper of Vela Veloce. “Privateer are good sports and I am sure we will share a beer with them tonight. Although I have done a lot of cruising here, this is the first time I have raced in the Caribbean since the 60s. The boat comes from New Brunswick, Canada and it amazes me why people don’t come down here and enjoy these water.

Winner of IRC Super Zero Canting keel, third overall under IRC and second under CSA was Ron O’Hanley’s Cookson 52, Privateer.

“We have never raced against another Cookson 50 which we were really looking forward to but Privateer is a newer boat with some differences and we weren’t really racing close to Lee Overlay Partners. We had a really good fight with Vela Veloce. This is the first time we have competed in a RORC race and I would like to give a big thank you to the organisers; this has been a very well run event.” Commented Vela Veloce boat captain Scott Innes-Jones.

Third overall under CSA and fourth overall under IRC was Adrian Lee’s Cookson 50, Lee Overlay Partners. Dockside Adrian Lee was still full of admiration for the race. “Very different to last year but we have enjoyed it just the same, this was as much a challenge but for different reasons, keeping the boat going and concentrating the whole time were so important. The last few miles were agonizingly slow but we kept cool under pressure and to be honest, we were delighted just to finish. Congratulations to Beau Geste on an excellent performance.”

Only one boat, AAG Big One has finished since Lee Overlay Partners came in last night. The breeze virtually shut down, right across the racecourse, causing many yachts to retire. ‘H’ one of the BLESMA crew describes the scene on board as Spirit of Juno made the decision to stop racing. “The skipper went to every guy and asked him for his view, everybody had their say but when he turned the engine on, it was a sickening feeling. We just ran out of time and needed to get back for flights home. We have developed as a team and really got to grips with the physical side of things but we need to work more on the tactical side, we will be back for sure. The RORC Caribbean 600 is unfinished business.”

Antigua is usually blessed with easterly Trade Winds and the unusual weather is extremely rare. However, the competitors in the RORC Caribbean 600 did have the sensation of surfing through the Caribbean sea in sublime conditions, at least some of the time.

Update as of Sunday

Willy Bissainte and Benoit Reffe’s Class 40, Tradition Guadeloupe were rightly proud as they crossed the finish line in the early hours of Sunday morning, having spent five nights at sea. A large contingent greeted Tradition Guadeloupe including Elizabeth Jordan, Commodore of the Antigua Yacht Club and Ian Loffhagen, RORC Racing manager. Every yacht competing in the RORC Caribbean 600 was welcomed back to Antigua, regardless of the time. Jonathon Cornelius and his ABSAR team was on call day and night through out the race and piloted every yacht into Falmouth Bay.

“We were never going to retire,” said Willy Bissainte dockside. “The RORC Caribbean 600 is a big part of my training for the Route de Rhum, which I will be racing solo, later in the year. We always had at least a little wind, we kept going all of the time. It was great to have such a reception from the Antigua Yacht Club and the RORC. We will only be staying for a short while though, we must go back to work in Guadeloupe in just a few hours.”

Willy Bissainte and his co-skipper Benoit Reffe picked up the Concise Trophy for the best Class 40 and the class trophy for IRC Zero. After a quick shower, the two sailors who defied the unusual weather, set sail for home.

The last yacht in the 2010 RORC Caribbean 600 was finally accounted for.