Skippered by Charles Caudrelier, the Chinese Dongfeng Race Team will compete in the Rolex Fastnet Race as Leg Zero of the Volvo Ocean Race © Benoit Stichelbaut

Skippered by Charles Caudrelier, the Chinese Dongfeng Race Team will compete in the Rolex Fastnet Race as Leg Zero of the Volvo Ocean Race © Benoit Stichelbaut

 

Among the 400 boat fleet setting off from the Solent on 6 August in the Rolex Fastnet Race will be three of offshore racing’s most prestigious classes.

Grabbing the headlines will be the one design VO65s as the Rolex Fastnet Race serves as Leg Zero of the Volvo Ocean Race and it will be the first occasion the teams will have lined up in anger. Among the seven, three teams competed in the 2014-15 Volvo Ocean Race: 2nd placed Team Brunel; the Chinese Dongfeng Race Team, third last time and the Spanish MAPFRE team, which finished fourth. In one designs, experience is everything so these teams will have the edge, but crew from other boats in the last race have been distributed across the new teams too.

Dongfeng Race Team benefitted from being first to get sailing this time, picked their boat up post-refit late January. They have several of the same crew and have focussed more on the competition this time, says skipper Charles Caudrelier. “Last time we spent the first five months in China doing crew selection. We put 30% of our time into performance. This time we put in 70%.”
This year’s Rolex Fastnet Race will be Caudrelier’s third. In 2011, on the VO70 Groupama, they finished just behind Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing, whose time of 32 hours and 39 minutes remains the monohull record. “I like the race because it is interesting – short and complicated with lots of transitions,” says Caudrelier.
While Dongfeng is a favourite, late to the party is Turn the Tide on Plastic, skippered by Dee Caffari, their campaign was only announced mid-June.
Caffari is a big fan of the Rolex Fastnet having completed her first on a Challenge boat in 2001. She was on Team SCA two years ago:  “It is an ocean classic everyone wants to do. It covers such a range of boats and sailors, it is like an oceanic version of Round the Island Race.”
Having competed many times in the Rolex Fastnet Race, Sam Davies will be in the driving seat of Tanguy de Lamotte’s IMOCA 60, Initiatives Coeur ( Photo © Initiatives Coeur )

Having competed many times in the Rolex Fastnet Race, Sam Davies will be in the driving seat of Tanguy de Lamotte’s IMOCA 60, Initiatives Coeur ( Photo © Initiatives Coeur )

 

Former Team SCA skipper Sam Davies has returned to the IMOCA 60 class. She has taken over the Initiatives Coeur campaign from Tanguy de Lamotte but the two are sailing together for the rest of 2017.
 “Everyone is happy Sam’s in the driving seat. It is a great continuation for the project,” says de Lamotte. Davies, who also raced with de Lamotte in 2015, said: “I am very excited Tanguy gave me this opportunity. It is a project that I know every well – a cool boat, a cool team and cool charity project to be involved.” It supports Mécénat Chirurgie Cardiaque, which funds operations on children born with heart defects. They are sailing the foil-assisted IMOCA 60 that finished the last Vendée Globe in third.
As with the other eight IMOCA 60s competing, they are racing the Rolex Fastnet Race doublehanded. Before sailing the race together in 2015, de Lamotte won it twice in the Class40, while Davies’ first race was in 1995 on a Sun Legend 41 and she has done it countless times since.
They are up against the boats which finished first and second in the Vendée Globe: Bureau Vallée 2 (ex-Banque Populaire) campaigned by Louis Burton and Servane Escoffier, and Alex Thomson and Irish sailor Nicholas O’Leary on Hugo Boss.
For Thomson, the Rolex Fastnet Race has played a huge part in his sailing career. “My first was in 1995 on a Sigma 36 called British Eagle – it took just over seven days – but in that race I found my love for offshore racing. That’s the great thing about the Fastnet – it introduces people to proper offshore racing.” The 2003 race was the first occasion Thomson sailed under the colours of Hugo Boss, preluding a 14 year sponsorship deal.
This time, Thomson who is sailing with Nicholas O’Leary is hoping to beat the other IMOCA 60s but is bullish about taking on the larger boats in his foil-assisted weapon. “Downwind we’re quicker than a VO65 and if you give us the right conditions (22-25 knots, broad reaching) we can beat Rambler, but in the Fastnet you don’t get to choose the weather you sail in.”
Most significant in the Rolex Fastnet Race’s non-IRC line-up is the 34 boat Class40 fleet. In this are a mix of pro sailors and enthusiastic amateurs and boats ranging from state of the art reaching machines to old production boats. It is also one of the most international line-ups including Russia and Japan, Sweden, Norway, Austria, the Netherlands, South Africa and Oman.
The Rolex Fastnet Race will see 34 Class40s compete, including the newest, Louis Duc's Carac (150) ( Photo © Christophe Breschi )

The Rolex Fastnet Race will see 34 Class40s compete, including the newest, Louis Duc’s Carac (150) ( Photo © Christophe Breschi )

 

The Rolex Fastnet Race will be the first event for the newest, most radical Class40. Louis Duc’s Carac (150) is a Marc Lombard design and has the highest volume bow permitted under the Class40 rule. The latest models from all the leading Class40 designers are competing such as Brieuc Maisonneuve’s Cap Des Palmes, a Guillaume Verdier Tizh 40; Norwegian Henrik Bergesen’s Hydra, a brand new Owen Clarke design; two new Sam Manuard-designed Mach 40 Mk3s, Maxime Sorel’s V And B and Catherine Pourre’s Eärendil.

President of the Class40, Halvard Mabire, is racing Campagne de France, a new boat to his own design, with his English partner Miranda Merron. Mabire’s first Fastnet was in 1977. “It was on a small plywood boat with hard chines. It was one of the slowest Fastnets in history – very very light all the way. I did it again in 1979, which was not the same story.” He has since done the race as part of the Admiral’s Cup and on a Maxi One Design. “The Fastnet is one of the oldest races. It is very nice to have this race – we know it will happen every two years. It is good that the RORC opened it to multihulls, IMOCA 60s and Class40s.”
As to the form, the favourite is, for once, not French, but from the Channel Islands. Following his 2006 Route du Rhum victory, Phil Sharp has returned to the Class 40. His yacht Imerys currently leads the 2017 Class40 championship, following their second place in the recent Les Sables-Horta-Les Sables race.
Jersey's Phil Sharp on Imerys currently leads the 2017 Class40 championship ( Photo © Andy Le Gresley )

Jersey’s Phil Sharp on Imerys currently leads the 2017 Class40 championship (Photo
© Andy Le Gresley )

The Rolex Fastnet Race starts from off Cowes at 1100 on 6 August.
How to follow:
  • All the latest news, race updates, video, photos, blogs from the boats + Live streaming of the starts: Race minisite: http://fastnet.rorc.org/
  • Twitter: #rolexfastnetrace @RORCracing
  • Facebook: www.facebook.com/royaloceanracingclub
  • Instagram: instagram.com/rorcracing
  • Coverage on Fastnet TV & Radio: Cowes – 87.7fm, Plymouth – 87.9fm and online http://879fm.uk/
  •  Virtual Regatta – check the race minisite closer to the start to sign up for the game
Bella Mente, JV 72 Custom, USA45. Class IRC Z & CSA 1 (Hap Fauth and his team on Maxi 72 Bella Mente competing in the 2017 RORC Caribbean 600 (Photo Credit: RORC/ELWJ Photography)

Bella Mente, JV 72 Custom, USA45. Class IRC Z & CSA 1 (Hap Fauth and his team on Maxi 72 Bella Mente competing in the 2017 RORC Caribbean 600
(Photo Credit: RORC/ELWJ Photography)

ANTIGUA, WEST INDIES (February 24, 2017) – Bella Mente Racing, led by owner/driver Hap Fauth, launched its 2017 campaign season with a major victory this week, winning IRC Overall, CSA Overall and CSA 1 at the RORC Caribbean 600 in Antigua; The team took home the coveted RORC Caribbean 600 Trophy for the IRC win as well as the Bella Mente Trophy, the team’s namesake award, for being the first IRC yacht to finish that is wholly manually powered. The 600-mile offshore race hosted a record number of competitors for its 2017 edition, with over 80 yachts hitting the waters off Antigua, but it was the battle between Bella Mente and rival Maxi 72 Proteus that took the spotlight. The yachts dueled up until the very end, with the lead switching hands on several occasions. After over two days at sea, Bella Mente ultimately prevailed, crossing the finish line on Wednesday, February 22 at 4:51 p.m. (AST), ahead of Proteus.

Bella Mente, JV 72 Custom, USA45. Class IRC Z & CSA 1 Hap (Photo Credit: RORC/ELWJ Photography

Bella Mente, JV 72 Custom, USA45. Class IRC Z & CSA 1 Hap
(Photo Credit: RORC/ELWJ Photography)

“This is such an important event for our campaign each year so it was just the best to be able to come back swinging,” said Fauth adding that this year’s RORC Caribbean 600 win was exceptionally sweet for the team, which came to the event last year hoping to defend its 2015 IRC Overall win, but were forced to retire halfway into racing due to keel troubles. “We’re looking forward to the rest of our 2017 season and ultimately the Rolex Maxi 72 World Championships in Sardinia. That is what the whole season is focused on from here.

Bella Mente, JV 72 Custom, USA45. Class IRC Z & CSA 1 (Photo Credit: RORC/ELWJ Photography

Bella Mente, JV 72 Custom, USA45. Class IRC Z & CSA 1
(Photo Credit: RORC/ELWJ Photography

“It was a very hard fought win. Over the course of the race, the team performed 85 sail changes and all but one were executed perfectly. The crew gave a 120 percent and we got a victory out of it – a crew and afterguard-driven victory.”


The Bella Mente Racing Team after winning IRC Overall at the 2017 RORC Caribbean 600 (left) and Owner/Driver Hap Fauth accepting the RORC Caribbean 600 Trophy (right)
(Photo Credit Left: RORC/Ted Martin / Photo Credit Right: RORC/ELWJ Photography)

The 600-mile race circumnavigates 11 Caribbean islands, starting its fleet off Fort Charlotte in Antigua and then taking it north up to Barbuda and around Nevis, St. Kitts, St. Eustatius, Saba, St. Barth and St. Martin before heading south for Guadeloupe. From there, the fleet returns to Barbuda and rounds Redonda before finishing back in Antigua.

“Our playbook was pretty extensive for this race with this being our fifth RORC Caribbean 600 racing Bella Mente, however it was based on the trade winds blowing as they normally do this time of year,” said the team’s offshore helmsman Mike Sanderson adding that though the RORC Caribbean 600 racecourse was the same as previous years, the fleet experienced a completely different wind direction, which changed the tactics and dynamic onboard. That, coupled with intense competition with Proteus, made for an extremely tough race. “This year the wind conditions did a 180 in comparison to previous years, which made for an entirely different race. For me, that was the best part of this year’s event. It’s always great to have a new challenge because it means we really have to do our homework to prepare for the race. When we got out there on the course, everything looked so different going around the track even though we were in familiar surroundings.”


Maxi 72s Bella Mente and Proteus battling it out on the racecourse in the 2017 RORC Caribbean 600
(Photo Credit: RORC/ELWJ Photography)

Tactician Terry Hutchinson added, “It was an absolute battle all the way through. Proteus got the better of us in the pre-start and on the first leg up to Barbuda, but we did a good job of keeping it close, and one rain shower later we were bow-to-stern with the Maxi 72. For the next 450 miles we were tied to the hip. Proteus held the lead through to La Désirade (off Guadeloupe), but when we started on the 90-mile leg back to Barbuda, Bella Mente’s upwind speed shined and we were able to slip around Proteus and extend.  From Barbuda to the finish we were constantly looking over our shoulder; our lead never felt big enough and we were preparing for one more parking lot with no breeze on the racecourse ahead. In true Bella Mente form, a couple of slick sail changes at the end of our 53 hours on the water got us across the finish line.”

When asked how he thought the team performed for their first event of the season, Hutchinson responded, “The team fared well, but we have a lot of work to do. The competition this season is very good, and so like in 2016 we need to apply a consistent process to our performance and development, and allow Bella Mente’s number one resource, our people, to perform.”


The Bella Mente Racing Team celebrates dockside in Antigua after their 2017 RORC Caribbean 600 win
(Photo Credit: RORC/ELWJ Photography)

Bella Mente will compete in one more event in the Caribbean, Les Voiles de. St. Barth in April, before the yacht is shipped across the Atlantic to race in Mallorca, Spain for the Palma Vela in May. The team will then relocate to Corfu, Greece for the inaugural Corfu Challenge in July and return to Mallorca for the Copa del Rey MAPFRE later that month. The season culminates with its final and most significant event, the Rolex Maxi 72 World Championship in Porto Cervo, Italy in September.

For more information, visit http://bellamenteracing.com/. Follow Bella Mente Racing on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram.

Musandam-Oman Sail Picture of Oman Sail - Musandam takes line honours at the 2015 Artemis Challenge (Photo © Mark Lloyd / Lloyd Images)

Musandam-Oman Sail Picture of Oman Sail – Musandam takes line honours at the 2015 Artemis Challenge (Photo © Mark Lloyd / Lloyd Images)

Oman Sail’s crew on flagship MOD70 trimaran Musandam-Oman Sail return to the race track on Saturday with their first big race of the season, the 2016 Myth of Malham off the south coast of England.

This English classic, run by the Royal Ocean Racing Club, is a weekend race starting at the Royal Yacht Squadron in Cowes with the top mark set at the Eddystone Lighthouse, some 12 miles south-west of Plymouth and the finish back in the Solent.

At 256 nautical miles, it may be a relatively short course but it will test the team, since the Solent and Channel are amongst the busiest shipping channels in the world and a hub of recreational boating and sailing in Britain with thousands of boats taking to the waters on a nice sunny day.

Musandam-Oman Sail (Photo © Mark Lloyd / Lloyd Images)

Musandam-Oman Sail (Photo © Mark Lloyd / Lloyd Images)

For the Musandam-Oman Sail crew which features Omani professionals Fahad Al Hasni, Sami Al Shukaili and Yassir Al Rahbi, plus skipper Sidney Gavignet, Damian Foxall and navigator Jean Luc Nelias, the race marks the transition from training to performance.

“All our preparations here this week have been about working efficiently round the clock, morning and evening, on the dock as well,” said Sidney Gavignet.

Sidney Gavignet, Skipper of Musandam-Oman Sail (Photo © Mark Lloyd / Lloyd Images)

Sidney Gavignet, Skipper of Musandam-Oman Sail (Photo © Mark Lloyd / Lloyd Images)

“We want everyone to perform. On our delivery runs, we have spent a lot of time teaching and experimenting but during the race, there will be no time for any of that. It will be time to perform and that requires a completely different state of mind.”

“It will be good preparation for the Round Ireland race next month.”

Musandam-Oman Sail, an ultra-fast trimaran, will be one of around 40 boats competing in the Myth of Malham but there is only one other contender in the fleet that Gavignet’s team want to beat and that is Team Concise, a rival British-owned MOD70 that recently set a new record in the Round Barbados Race.

“They have done a lot of racing in the Caribbean this year so it will be a very good contest but we have a good crew, and with some intensive training under our belt, we will be trying our best for a win,” added Gavignet.

Known as the mini-Fastnet, since it follows the same course through the Solent down to the 49-metre high Eddystone Lighthouse – which is mentioned in Herman Melville’s epic novel Moby-Dick – the Myth of Malham was named after the yacht of the same name, a 37’6″ sloop built in 1947 that went on to win the Fastnet race that year, and again two years later.

The Myth of Malham race starts on the morning of Saturday May 28 when the fleet will head west out of the Solent en route to the Eddystone Lighthouse before an exhilarating downwind ride back to the Solent under spinnaker.

“We can’t wait to get racing again and are looking forward to getting some speed up on Musandam-Oman Sail,” said Fahad Al Hasni, who is likely to be given helming duties.

“This is the first race of the season and we are keen to make an early impression. She’s a fast boat and because we have a few records under our belt, we know we can get the best out of her but we also know we will have to be at the top of our game to win.”

MOD70 Musandam-Oman Sail Programme

Myth of Malham: Starts Cowes, Isle of Wight – Saturday 28 May
Volvo Round Ireland Yacht Race: Starts Wicklow, Ireland – Saturday 18 June
Quebec – St Malo: Starts Quebec, Canada – Saturday 10 July

Trimaran MOD70 Musandam-Oman Sail (Photo © Mark Lloyd / Lloyd Images)

Trimaran MOD70 Musandam-Oman Sail (Photo © Mark Lloyd / Lloyd Images)

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
A spectacular start to the 2015 RORC Caribbean 600 in Antigua as IRC Zero and Canting Keel class, including George David's Rambler 88 and John Elkann's Volvo 70, Maserati cross the line (Photo  ©Tim Wright/Photoaction.com)

A spectacular start to the 2015 RORC Caribbean 600 in Antigua as IRC Zero and Canting Keel class, including George David’s Rambler 88 and John Elkann’s Volvo 70, Maserati cross the line (Photo ©Tim Wright/Photoaction.com)

A spectacular start to the 2015 RORC Caribbean 600 in Antigua as IRC Zero and Canting Keel class, including George David’s Rambler 88 and John Elkann’s Volvo 70, Maserati cross the line ©Tim Wright/Photoaction.com

 66 yachts started the 7th edition of the RORC Caribbean 600, with hundreds of race fans watching the impressive fleet from Fort Charlotte and Shirley Heights. Thousands more are now glued to the tracker and social media feeds. After a classic start in 15 knots of easterly trade winds, the fleet powered past the Pillars of Hercules, heading for Green Island where they will bear away and accelerate towards Barbuda, the only mark of the 600-mile course around 11 stunning Caribbean islands.

 

Phaedo3, Lloyd Thornburg’s MOD 70 © Richard and Rachel/Team Phaedo

Lloyd Thornburg’s MOD 70 Phaedo3, with Michel Desjoyeaux and Brian Thompson on board, had a conservative start with Petro Jonker’s cruising catamaran, Quality Time crossing the line first. Phaedo3 lit the blue touch paper at Green Island, blasting through the surf at well over 30 knots. The lime-green machine reached Barbuda in less than two hours, well ahead of record pace and eight miles ahead of Peter Aschenbrenner’s Irens 63, Paradox.

In the second start, 19 yachts in IRC Two and Three started the 600-mile race. For most of the crews racing in the smaller yachts it will be three or four days before they complete the challenge. Ed Fishwick’s Sunfast 3600, Redshift, skippered by Nick Cherry, got a great start at the pin-end with Ross Applebey’s Oyster 48, Scarlet Oyster, judging the inner distance mark to perfection. Andy Middleton’s First 47.7, EH01 and Scarlet Oyster were the first yachts in IRC Two to reach Green Island and it is likely that these two will be neck-and-neck for the duration of the race. In IRC Three, Peter Scholfield’s HOD 35, Zarafa was leading on the water at Green Island. However the Two Handed team racing Louis-Marie Dussere’s JPK 10.10, Raging Bee was the leader in class after time correction.

 

Scarlet Oyster, Ross Applebey’s Oyster 48 ©Tim Wright/Photoaction.com

Jonathan Bamberger’s Canadian J/145, Spitfire and Joseph Robillard’s S&S 68, Black Watch got the best start in the 15 strong fleet racing in IRC One. However, Jose Diego-Arozamena’s Farr 72, Maximizer, revelled in the upwind start to lead on the water at Green Island. Oyster 625, Lady Mariposa, sailed by Daniel Hardy had a great leg to Green Island as did James Blakemore’s Swan 53, Music which was leading after time correction.

The penultimate start featured 21 yachts racing in IRC Zero and Canting Keel, arguably the best fleet of offshore sailing yachts that has ever been seen in the Caribbean. A highly competitive start saw Piet Vroon’s Ker 51, Tonnerre 4, win the pin, while Ron O’Hanley’s Cookson 50, Privateer took the island shore route to perfection. Farr 100, Leopard sailed by Christopher Bake, also had a great start, controlling the boats to leeward heading for the Pillars of Hercules.

 

Hap Fauth’s Maxi 72, Bella Mente had a sensational first leg of the race, rounding Green Island first out of the IRC Zero class, but all eyes were on George David’s Rambler 88, as the powerful sled turned on the after burners. George David’s new speed-machine could well break his own monohull course record; at Barbuda Rambler 88 was almost five miles ahead of the ghost track of the record set by Rambler 100.

 

George David’s Rambler 88 ©Tim Wright/Photoaction.com

Two of the world’s most magnificent schooners were the last class to start. Athos and Adela started their match race in the pre-start and there is no doubt that the battle of the titans will continue throughout the race. Athos won the pre-start in some style, chasing Adela downwind and away from the line, before rounding up onto the breeze and crossing the line over a boat length ahead of her rival. However, Adela was far better suited to the beat up to Green Island and led as the two schooners continued their rivalry towards Barbuda.

 

Note: Liquid, Pamala C Baldwin’s J/122 and Quality Time, Petro Jonker’s Du Toit 51 catamaran retired at the start following boat damage. All of the crew are well.

Bella Mente, Hap Fauth’s ©Tim Wright/Photoaction.com

RACE MINISITE:
Follow the race web site: http://caribbean600.rorc.org

( Entry list HERE)

 

 

THE RACE: 

  • RORC Caribbean 600 website: http://caribbean600.rorc.org
  • The RORC Caribbean 600 starts from Antigua on Monday 23rd February 2015
  • The 600nm course circumnavigates 11 Caribbean Islands starting from Fort Charlotte, English Harbour, Antigua and heads north as far as St Martin and south to Guadeloupe taking in Barbuda, Nevis, St Kitts, Saba and St Barth’s
  • Past Results: RORC CARIBBEAN 600 TROPHY – IRC OVERALL
  • 2014 – George Sakellaris, RP72, Shockwave (USA)
  • 2013 – Ron O’Hanley, Privateer, Cookson 50 (USA)
  • 2012 – Niklas Zennström’s JV72, Rán (GBR)
    2011 – George David, Rambler 100, JK 100 (USA)
    2010 – Karl C L Kwok, Beau Geste, Farr 80 (HKG)
  • 2009 – Adrian Lee, Lee Overlay Partners, Cookson 50 (IRL)

Happy to be in Grenada. Oakcliff Racing Team celebrate their finish. L-R: Andrew O’Donnell, Daniel Flanigan, Chris Kennedy, Hobie Ponting. RORC Transatlantic Race © RORC/Arthur Daniel & Orlando K Romain

Happy to be in Grenada. Oakcliff Racing Team celebrate their finish. L-R: Andrew O'Donnell, Daniel Flanigan, Chris Kennedy, Hobie Ponting. RORC Transatlantic Race © RORC/Arthur Daniel & Orlando K Romain

Happy to be in Grenada. Oakcliff Racing Team celebrate their finish. L-R: Andrew O’Donnell, Daniel Flanigan, Chris Kennedy, Hobie Ponting. RORC Transatlantic Race © RORC/Arthur Daniel & Orlando K Romain

 

Class40, Oakcliff Racing ghosted into Camper & Nicholsons Port Louis Marina to a warm welcome and a case of cold beer, as a huge welcoming party cheered the team onto the dock. The four sailors, from Rhode Island, New York and Connecticut USA, are more used to match racing and Melges24 regattas than ocean racing, and this adventure started with crossing the Bay of Biscay in November in foul weather for the delivery to Puerto Calero, Lanzarote. The four crew, all in their 20s and crossing the Atlantic Ocean for the first time, leapt for joy in Grenada, rightly proud of their achievements.

Oakcliff Racing Team cross the finish line
© RORC/Arthur Daniel & Orlando K Romain

Oakcliff Racing skippered by Hobie Ponting and sailed by an all-American crew, crossed the finish line of the 2014 RORC Transatlantic Race, off Quarantine Point, Grenada at 23:15:41 UTC on Friday 12th December 2014, with an elapsed time of 12 days, 13 hours, 15 minutes and 41 seconds. Oakcliff Racing is the current leader for IRC One and lying second overall in the RORC Transatlantic Race.

 

As Oakliff Racing crossed the line, there was an emotional scene on board as the team congratulated each other with handshakes and bear-hugs. Arriving on a Friday after 13 days at sea is a superstitious scenario for some, but as luck would have it, Friday night is Texas-style barbecue night at Camper & Nicholsons Port Louis Marina. Skipper, Hobie had three portions of jerk chicken after eating freeze dried food for almost two weeks!

 

“That was epic. We have crossed an ocean and it’s the first time any of us have done it and it feels fantastic. The last 24 hours was the hardest of all. We had very little wind and it was frustrating having spent days charging along at 20 knots. We have all worked so well together and we have finished this race better friends than we started. We don’t know what day it is right now and a shower, some good food and a bed with sheets is top priority,” Exclaimed Skipper, Hobie.

 

The Oakcliff Racing Team for the RORC Transatlantic Race 2014 was: Hobie Ponting, Daniel Flanigan, Chris Kennedy and Andrew O’Donnell.

 

For the six yachts still racing in the RORC Transatlantic Race, the wind has become lighter, slowing their race to the finish. Aref Lahham’s Swan 68, Yacana is likely to be the next yacht to finish at around midnight local time (Saturday 13th December). Derek Hatfield’s Volvo 60, Spirit of Adventure has 278 miles to go and expected to finish the race on Sunday night or Monday morning, local time.

 

Yacana poses a threat to Oakcliff Racing for the lead in IRC One. At 1200 UTC 13 December, Yacana was 138 miles from the finish and estimated to be just 7 hours behind Oakcliff Racing on corrected time. The crew of Yacana are all friends, mainly from Greece. Here is an extract from their blog:

 

From Last Sunset to Sunrise: At sunset last night the whole crew was on deck. It was the first clear sunset we had seen. The sky was clear, temperature perfect and there was a sense of excitement in our chatter as we realised we had only three figure nautical miles to go. We could smell and feel the Caribbean and even for Christoforos, one of the clouds on the horizon looked like a palm tree. Then as the rest of the crew went to sleep and our watch took over, the sky offered a magnificent spectacle of stars in a moonless sky. We were cruising between 9 and 10 knots with no sound except for the flapping of our sails, and the surfing noise of Yacana on the small waves interrupted by the occasional “trim Aref trim” of Pericles, followed by the “Lasca Ligo” of Dimitri. Suddenly the moon comes up and everything is bathed in an unreal silvery light …a humbling privilege.

 

The watch is over, we go down and grab something to eat before sleeping for 4 hours when we are up again. The other watch was uneventful. Our watch starts again, and after a few hours, Dimitri decides that we are going to bring down our heavy spinnaker and put up the Orion lighter spinnaker that Don and the rest of the crew had repaired. The operation is delicate in the dark, but Dimitri issues very clear orders and procedural steps to all four of us, and we needed only to wake up Lefteri. Huge success. The heavy spinnaker pulled down and packed and the new one was up in no time, as one of the most magnificent sunrises appeared. Also, a flying fish flew into the small bathroom on the port side! No worries, he will join the other flying fish in our frying pan…..”

 

In IRC Two, Nigel Passmore’s British J/133, Apollo 7 leads on the water after time correction and is estimated to be lying third overall. Apollo 7 has been one of the most southerly yachts in the race, but as the wind has now gone to the north east, the team from Plymouth have gybed  back towards the rhumb line. Frank Lang’s French X-40, Optim’X has consistently been to the north of Apollo 7 and is over 140 miles behind them. The estimated arrival time for Apollo 7 is Monday 15th December, local time.

 

In IRC Three, Denis Villotte’s French JNP 12, Sérénade is caught in a near windless trap over 770 miles from Grenada. The better breeze is tantalisingly close just a few miles in front of the yacht, but for now, Sérénade is only able to manage a very slow speed.

 

Sailors from the yachts that have finished the race have been wishing well to Denis Villotte’s team. Irish Olympic sailor, Tim Goodbody is the Boat Captain for Southern Wind 94, Windfall. “On Windfall we have luxury cabins, flat screen TVs and a full gallery with all the modern conveniences. Of course we raced across, but it was in a lot of comfort. I take my hat off to three guys in a stripped out 40-footer. Fair winds to Sérénade .”

 

by Louay Habib, Race Reports

Overall winner under IRC - Varuna, Ker 51, Jens Kellinghusen (GER) - 2014 Sevenstar Round Britain and Ireland Race - Rick Tomlinson/RORC

Overall winner under IRC – Varuna, Ker 51, Jens Kellinghusen (GER) – 2014 Sevenstar Round Britain and Ireland Race – Rick Tomlinson/RORC

The Royal Ocean Racing Club has declared Jens Kellinghusen’s Ker 51, Varuna (GER), as the overall winner under IRC of the 2014 Sevenstar Round Britain and Ireland Race.
Sevenstar Yacht Transport have also awarded Jens Kellinghusen with a $20,000 voucher to ship Varuna to their selected destination worldwide, which will be used to transport Varuna to Malta to take part in the Rolex Middle Sea Race, the final race of the RORC Season’s Points Championship.

Although six yachts are still racing, none of them can better Varuna’s corrected time racing under IRC. Jens Kellinghusen was quick to praise his crew for their performance, Varuna has no powered winches and the tough conditions required tremendous physical exertion and long hours hiking out on the rail:

“The weather conditions really suited Varuna. Our biggest competition was with the canting keel boats, which would have preferred reaching, but the downwind conditions towards the end were ideal for us. I am so happy for the crew as they all did a great job and the boat held together in some testing conditions. I am very pleased, this is the first time we have participated and we really enjoyed the race. We already use Sevenstar for transporting Varuna, so the $20,000 from the sponsors is very much appreciated.”

Celebrations for Varuna on the dock after crossing the finish of the Sevenstar Round Britain and Ireland Race - Credit: Patrick Eden/RORC

Celebrations for Varuna on the dock after crossing the finish of the Sevenstar Round Britain and Ireland Race – Credit: Patrick Eden/RORC

 

Varuna’s Winning Crew:

Jens Kellinghusen, Owner, Hamburg, Germany
Tim Daase, Pit/Boat Captain, Wewelsfleth, Germany
Guenter Alajmo, Runner, Hamburg, Germany
Guillermo Altadill, Navigator, Barcelona, Spain
Luke Molloy, Trimmer, Brisbane, Australia
David Blass, Trimmer, Braunschweig, Germany
Fynn Terveer, Pit, Kiel, Germany
Jan Hilbert, Driver, Kiel Germany
Gunnar Knierim, Driver, Kiel, Germany
Peter Knight, Bow, Guernsey, UK
Christian Stoffers, Bow, Kiel, Germany
Alastair Sayers, Bow, Hobart, Tasmania

At 0900 BST Friday 22 August, the remaining six yachts racing in the Sevenstar Round Britain and Ireland Race are experiencing downwind conditions in plenty of breeze. J/122, Relentless on Jellyfish, skippered by James George, was just 38 miles from the finish holding off a strong challenge from the Army Sailing Association’s J/111, British Soldier, which is six miles behind the on-the-water leader. Both yachts are expected to finish this afternoon.

Hanse 531, Saga, skippered by Peter Hopps, passed The Lizard at midnight. At 0900 BST, Saga was 30 miles from Portland Bill with 100 miles to go. Saga is expected to finish the race around midnight on Saturday 23rd August.

Rare Leads the Two-Handers

Just after midnight last night, Ian Hoddle’s Figaro II, Rare, passed Liam Coyne’s First 36.7, Lula Belle, as the Two-Handed teams approached the Scilly Isles. At 0900 BST Rare had extended their lead by 11 miles to lead on the water as the two yachts passed The Lizard. However, after time correction, Lula Belle is still the leading the Two-Handed Class by a considerable margin. Werner Landwehr’s Figaro II, Dessert D’Alcyone, was 70 miles from the Scilly Isles, 300 miles from the finish.
Liam Coyne’s First 36.7, Lula Belle – Credit: Paul Wyeth/RORC

Liam Coyne, skipper of Lula Belle, contacted the Royal Ocean Racing Club in the early hours of this morning. The Irish pair of Liam Coyne and Brian Flahive have been racing for 11 days surviving gale force winds, but fatigue and gear failure is taking its toll. Lula Belle’s engine has failed to start, essential to charge their batteries, and the sails are showing signs of the battering they have received.

Without access to the fleet tracking player on the RORC website, Liam was unaware that Rare was passing them, as Liam Coyne wrote this from Lula Belle, while at sea:

“Day 10 (I think). Winds filled in quicker at Mizen Head than we expected. Thank God we still have the A5 kite and she was great today. With no electronics on board we don’t know speeds, but we are flying. We expected Rare to rocket past us today, so we were going fast to hold him off. We are now 10 nm from the Scillys and we took the A5 down as it was getting to hard to hold. Lucky we decided to, as there were two more areas needed sewing which our “MacGyver” on board Brian duly did. Handy to have such a multi tasker. We hope when we round the next mark we might get one more spin out of the A5. It’s literally hanging on by a thread.

“On a lighter side the other night we had a show to remember. As anyone who sails knows there is an algae in the water, which when disturbed by the boat’s wake causes it to light up. On a really frustrating watch where the sky was pure black it was almost impossible to helm. At night we usually pick a cloud or star to follow. A night with black clouds and little wind is exhausting. I was nearly in tears with frustration when the dolphins showed up. We see them every day but this night I presume it was the black sky but they were lit up white (from the Algae) and not only were they illuminated they left a 20′ trail of illuminated water after them. It looked like the Red Arrows doing synchronized swimming. For 30 minutes I forgot about the Boat went and sat at the mast and watched the show of a lifetime. All day we see them break water but here you could see them underwater darting here and there. Sometimes 3 abreast going left, right left right over and over in perfect harmony leaving the illuminated trails in their wakes. It was an unbelievable sight. Nice of them to cheer a sailor up on a tough night.”