Rich WIlson Arrival Vendee Photo Olivier Blanchet / DPPI / Vendee Globe

Finish arrival of Rich Wilson (USA), skipper Great American IV, 13th of the sailing circumnavigation solo race Vendee Globe, in Les Sables d’Olonne, France, on February 21st, 2017 – Photo Olivier Blanchet / DPPI / Vendee Globe
Arrivée de Rich Wilson (USA), skipper Great American IV, 13ème du Vendee Globe, aux Sables d’Olonne, France, le 21 Février 2017 – Photo Olivier Blanchet / DPPI / Vendee Globe

American skipper Rich Wilson crossed the finish line of the Vendée Globe solo round the world race off Les Sables d’Olonne on the west coast of France this afternoon (Tuesday 21/02) at 1250hrs UTC. From the fleet of 29 boats which started the 27,440 miles singlehanded race from Les Sables d’Olonne on Sunday November 6th, Wilson and Great American IV secure 13th place in an elapsed time of 107 days 48 mins 18 secs.

Wilson, at 66 years old the oldest skipper in the race, successfully completes the pinnacle solo ocean racing event for the second time. He improves his time for the 2008-9 edition of the race, 121 days and 41 minutes by a fortnight, thereby achieving one of the key goals which drew him back to take on the race for a second time. Whilst racing he also delivered a daily, multi faceted educational programme to over 750,000 young people in more than 55 different countries around the world, another of the fundamental reasons Wilson returned to the Vendée Globe. He becomes the fastest American to race solo non stop around the world, beating the 2004-5 record of Bruce Schwab of 109 days 19 hours.
 
The hugely experienced American skipper who is a lifelong mariner and a native of Boston,Massachusetts, adds to a remarkable catalogue of achievements under sail over an extraordinary career spanning nearly 40 years, including three record passages including San Francisco to Boston in 1993, New York to Melbourne in 2001, and in 2003 Hong Kong to New York.
Wilson crossed the finish line on a cool February afternoon, emerging from the grey skies of the Bay of Biscay, with scarcely a rope out of place. His Great American IV returned to Les Sables d’Olonne in almost exactly the same, near perfect condition as they left in early November. Wilsonhas dealt competently with a range of small technical problems, notably gripes with his autopilot system, his hydrogenerator system and some modest sail repairs. To finish two Vendée Globe races with both of his boats in great condition is testament to his impeccable seamanship, his ongoing focus and discipline to stay within the prudent protocols he sets himself, looking to achieve high average speeds and sail very efficiently while keeping the skipper and his boat safe. The efficiency of his actual course, that is how direct a route he sailed, is almost exactly the same as that of race winner Armel Le Cléac’h – sailing around 27,450 miles and is only bettered by the fourth to sixth placed skippers Jéremie Beyou, Yann Eliès and Jean Le Cam who sailed around 300 miles less.
Wilson is in no way a crusader looking to prove a point about the capabilities or achievements of older solo racers or athletes. Suffering from asthma since he was an infant, he has also considered age a mere number but strove to be as fit and strong as he could be prior to both races. ‘I am not ready for the pipe and slippers. Age is just a number.’ Wilson said many times before the start. That said his success today will be a huge inspiration to older people around the world to pursue their dreams and follow their passions. His boat for this edition of the race, an Owen-Clarke design which raced to seventh with Dominique Wavre in 2012-13, is faster but more physical than Great American III.
Along the route Wilson has told the story of his race with clarity and passion, his educated and inquisitive mind ensuring topics have remained interesting and informative with a broad appeal to all ages. A former maths teacher he has graduate degrees from Harvard Business School and MIT and a college degree from Harvard. He enjoyed regular communication with many of the other skippers in the race, most of all Alan Roura, the Swiss 23 year old youngest racer who finished yesterday.
Rich Wilson’s Race
7th Nov: Replacement of a batten car on the main mast track, sailed with conservative sail selection not wanting to make a mistake while tired. Hydrogenerator propeller pitch control pump leaked all of its hydraulic oil into the box.
12th Nov: In a squall the boat took off, and then the autopilot decided to stop. So the boat turned up toward the wind, and lay over at about 45 degrees, with both sails flapping. I rushed into the cockpit and grabbed the tiller. Unidentified autopilot problem fixed.
17th Nov: First part of the Doldrums further north than was predicted. Sudden squalls.
19th Nov: At 0450, Great American IV crossed the Equator. 12th crossing under sail for Rich.
24th Nov: Getting to know the boat well. Gained miles on those ahead. Nice chat with Tanguy de Lamotte.
1st Dec: Peak speed of 24.7 knots. “I don’t understand how the leaders can deal with the speeds, and the stress that comes with them”
6th Dec: Entered the Indian Ocean. More Work on the Hydrogenerator
9th Dec: Chats with Alan Roura, and with Eric Bellion. ‘The three multi-generational amigos, me at 66, Eric at 40, and Alan at 23’13th Dec: “Pushing very hard to get east across the top of the Kerguelen Shelf before the big depression gets here in 36 hours. Our plan is to then head southeast to get to where the strong winds will be. Eric has chosen a north route, Alan and Enda look as though they are working on a similar plan to mine.”
15th Dec: Average of 45 knots wind for a 16 hour period, and our thundering sprints of boat speed from 10-12 knots into the mid-20s, ricocheting off waves
20th Dec: “Interesting encounter last night with Enda O’Coineen”
21st Dec: “Fantastic encounter today when my friend Eric Bellion came roaring up from behind us and passed us close aboard”
25th Dec: “We are a long way from home, and have a long way to go. Usually in my voyages, I haven’t gotten too lonely. But today I did. I’m sure it was exacerbated by the big depression that is forecast to develop ahead of us.”
31st Dec: Crossing the International Date Line
1st Jan: “We are in the gale. We have 35-40 knots of wind now and it looks as though this will last for another 18 hours. The violence that the sea can heap on a boat is not describable.”
5th Jan: “the nicest day of sailing that we’ve had in one might say months”
7th Jan: Exactly halfway
13th Jan: “We were in the bulls-eye of the strong winds for the depression. Solent to staysail to storm jib, and 1 reef to 2 reefs to 3 reefs in the mainsail.” Autopilot malfunction.
17th Jan: Cape Horn
18th Jan: “We went west of the Falkland Islands, behind Alan Roura, who followed through the Lemaire Strait”
22nd Jan: “A very bad night last night. We had 35 knots of north, steady, up to 38, which created a big wave situation, with cresting seas 12-15′ high. This went on most of the afternoon. And then suddenly, nothing. The physicality of this boat is beyond description, and I am exhausted and, frankly, demoralized.”
25th Jan: “We just got clobbered through the night, with 30 knots of wind, upwind, into the big building seas, and crashing and crashing and crashing. The conditions are just chaotic. There is really nothing you can do on the boat, because you just have to be holding on at all times.”
29th Jan: “Latitude of Rio de Janeiro. Southwest winds, 2 – 3 knots, very bizarre. The boat went in circles for 3 hours, and it was very frustrating.”
5th Feb: back into the Northern Hemisphere
7th Feb: finally into the NE’ly trade winds
16th Feb: sailed close to Faial in the Azores.
21st Feb: finished
First words 
“It’s great to be back. To see France and all the French people here. It was great to see Eric (Bellion) and Alan (Roura) here. They were my brothers in the south. We talked almost every day by e-mail. In this race I think there was a lot more communication between the skippers than in 2008-2009 – Koji, Fabrice, Nandor, Stéphane and Didac who was chasing me. We talked about everything in the world. It was a little bit harder, because I’m older. The boat was easier because of the ballast tanks. You can use the ballast rather than put in a reef all the time, which is what I had to do on the other boat. What distinguished the race for me was that it was grey all the way. Across the south and then all the way up the Atlantic. Grey. Grey. It was so depressing. Four or five days ago, the sun came out for twenty minutes and I leapt out and stuck my face and hands under the sun. It was grey and just for so long. That was hard.”“I found all the calms that exist in the Atlantic. It was never-ending in the Atlantic. Eight years ago, I said never again. But now it’s too difficult. This is the perfect race course. The most stimulating event that exists. My goal was to finish this race and to work for SitesAlive, which has 700,000 young people following. What is fantastic about this race is the support of the public with all the people here. I remember the first time, someone said, if you finish the race, you’re a winner. I think that is correct. I could give you a quotation from Thomas Jefferson. When he was ambassador to France, he said everyone has two countries, their own and France and I think that is true.””The Vendée Globe is two Vendée Globes. It is very long. The oceans, the capes. It’s all very hard. But the other Vendée Globe is the one ashore. The welcome that our team and I have had here. It’s incredible. I felt older. I am 66! My thoughts go out to Nandor who finished two weeks ago at the age of 65. We sent back data each day concerning me and the boat. Each day, I did an average of 12,000 turns on the winch. But it was hard.””The worst thing was it was so grey. I had a map of the stars with me but I couldn’t use it. The best thing was communicating with the others. We’re a real community.”

Finish arrival of Armel Le Cleac’h (FRA), skipper Banque Populaire VIII, winner of the sailing circumnavigation solo race Vendee Globe, in 74d 3h 35min 46sec, in Les Sables d'Olonne, France, on January 19th, 2017 - Photo Jean Marie Liot / DPPI / Vendee Globe Arrivée de Armel Le Cleac’h (FRA), skipper Banque Populaire VIII, vainqueur du Vendee Globe en 74j 3h 35min 46sec, aux Sables d'Olonne, France, le 19 Janvier 2017 - Photo Jean Marie Liot / DPPI / Vendee Globe

Finish arrival of Armel Le Cleac’h (FRA), skipper Banque Populaire VIII, winner of the sailing circumnavigation solo race Vendee Globe, in 74d 3h 35min 46sec, in Les Sables d’Olonne, France, on January 19th, 2017 – Photo Jean Marie Liot / DPPI / Vendee Globe

Thursday, 19th January French sailor Armel Le Cléac’h has today won the Vendée Globe, setting a new record for the solo non-stop round the world race in the process.

Finish arrival of Armel Le Cleac’h (FRA), skipper Banque Populaire VIII, winner of the sailing circumnavigation solo race Vendee Globe, in 74d 3h 35min 46sec, with flares in the channel of Les Sables d'Olonne, France, on January 19th, 2017 - Photo Jean Marie Liot / DPPI / Vendee Globe Arrivée de Armel Le Cleac’h (FRA), skipper Banque Populaire VIII, vainqueur du Vendee Globe en 74j 3h 35min 46sec, aux Sables d'Olonne, France, le 19 Janvier 2017 - Photo Jean Marie Liot / DPPI / Vendee Globe

Finish arrival of Armel Le Cleac’h (FRA), skipper Banque Populaire VIII, winner of the sailing circumnavigation solo race Vendee Globe, in 74d 3h 35min 46sec, with flares in the channel of Les Sables d’Olonne, France, on January 19th, 2017 – Photo Jean Marie Liot / DPPI / Vendee Globe

Le Cléac’h, 39, from Brittany, crossed the finish line of the race in Les Sables d’Olonne, France, at 1537hrs UTC after 74 days, 3 hours, 35 minutes and 46 seconds at sea on his 60ft racing

Finish arrival of Armel Le Cleac’h (FRA), skipper Banque Populaire VIII, winner of the sailing circumnavigation solo race Vendee Globe, in 74d 3h 35min 46sec, in Les Sables d'Olonne, France, on January 19th, 2017 - Photo Oivier Blanchet / DPPI / Vendee Globe Arrivée de Armel Le Cleac’h (FRA), skipper Banque Populaire VIII, vainqueur du Vendee Globe en 74j 3h 35min 46sec, aux Sables d'Olonne, France, le 19 Janvier 2017 - Photo Olivier Blanchet / DPPI / Vendee Globe

Finish arrival of Armel Le Cleac’h (FRA), skipper Banque Populaire VIII, winner of the sailing circumnavigation solo race Vendee Globe, in 74d 3h 35min 46sec, in Les Sables d’Olonne, France, on January 19th, 2017 – Photo Oivier Blanchet / DPPI / Vendee Globe
Arrivée de Armel Le Cleac’h (FRA), skipper Banque Populaire VIII, vainqueur du Vendee Globe en 74j 3h 35min 46sec, aux Sables d’Olonne, France, le 19 Janvier 2017 – Photo Olivier Blanchet / DPPI / Vendee Globe

His time sets a new record for the race, beating the previous record of 78 days 2 hours 16 minutes set by French sailor Francois Gabart in the 2012-13 edition by 3 days, 22 hours and 41 minutes. Le Cléac’h, the runner-up in the 2008-09 and 2012-13 editions of the Vendée Globe, covered 24,499.52 nm at an average speed of 13.77 knots during the race, which began from Les Sables d’Olonne on November 6 last year. The Vendée Globe, which was founded in 1989, follows the ‘clipper route’ around Africa’s Cape of Good Hope, Australia’s Cape Leeuwin and South America’s Cape Horn. Second-placed Alex Thomson is expected to cross the finish line on his boat Hugo Boss around 12 hours behind Le Cléac’h. The arrivals are being streamed live online. For more information about how to follow the finishes see

http://www.vendeeglobe.org/en/news/18197/how-to-follow-the-finish-this-thursday. 

Finish arrival of Armel Le Cleac’h (FRA), skipper Banque Populaire VIII, winner of the sailing circumnavigation solo race Vendee Globe, in Les Sables d'Olonne, France, on January 19th, 2017 - Photo Olivier Blanchet / DPPI / Vendee Globe Arrivée de Armel Le Cleac’h (FRA), skipper Banque Populaire VIII, vainqueur du Vendee Globe aux Sables d'Olonne, France, le 19 Janvier 2017 - Photo Olivier Blanchet / DPPI / Vendee Globe

Finish arrival of Armel Le Cleac’h (FRA), skipper Banque Populaire VIII, winner of the sailing circumnavigation solo race Vendee Globe, in Les Sables d’Olonne, France, on January 19th, 2017 – Photo Olivier Blanchet / DPPI / Vendee Globe

Finish arrival of Armel Le Cleac’h (FRA), skipper Banque Populaire VIII, winner of the sailing circumnavigation solo race Vendee Globe, in 74d 3h 35min 46sec, in Les Sables d'Olonne, France, on January 19th, 2017 - Photo Vincent Curutchet / DPPI / Vendee Globe Arrivée de Armel Le Cleac’h (FRA), skipper Banque Populaire VIII, vainqueur du Vendee Globe en 74d 3h 35min 46sec, aux Sables d'Olonne, France, le 19 Janvier 2017 - Photo Vincent Curutchet / DPPI / Vendee Globe

Finish arrival of Armel Le Cleac’h (FRA), skipper Banque Populaire VIII, winner of the sailing circumnavigation solo race Vendee Globe, in 74d 3h 35min 46sec, in Les Sables d’Olonne, France, on January 19th, 2017 – Photo Vincent Curutchet / DPPI / Vendee Globe

Finish arrival of Armel Le Cleac’h (FRA), skipper Banque Populaire VIII, winner of the sailing circumnavigation solo race Vendee Globe, in 74d 3h 35min 46sec, in Les Sables d'Olonne, France, on January 19th, 2017 - Photo Vincent Curutchet / DPPI / Vendee Globe Arrivée de Armel Le Cleac’h (FRA), skipper Banque Populaire VIII, vainqueur du Vendee Globe en 74d 3h 35min 46sec, aux Sables d'Olonne, France, le 19 Janvier 2017 - Photo Vincent Curutchet / DPPI / Vendee Globe

Finish arrival of Armel Le Cleac’h (FRA), skipper Banque Populaire VIII, winner of the sailing circumnavigation solo race Vendee Globe, in 74d 3h 35min 46sec, in Les Sables d’Olonne, France, on January 19th, 2017 – Photo Vincent Curutchet / DPPI / Vendee Globe

Finish arrival of Armel Le Cleac’h (FRA), skipper Banque Populaire VIII, winner of the sailing circumnavigation solo race Vendee Globe, in 74d 3h 35min 46sec, in Les Sables d'Olonne, France, on January 19th, 2017 - Photo Vincent Curutchet / DPPI / Vendee Globe Arrivée de Armel Le Cleac’h (FRA), skipper Banque Populaire VIII, vainqueur du Vendee Globe en 74d 3h 35min 46sec, aux Sables d'Olonne, France, le 19 Janvier 2017 - Photo Vincent Curutchet / DPPI / Vendee Globe

Finish arrival of Armel Le Cleac’h (FRA), skipper Banque Populaire VIII, winner of the sailing circumnavigation solo race Vendee Globe, in 74d 3h 35min 46sec, in Les Sables d’Olonne, France, on January 19th, 2017 – Photo Vincent Curutchet / DPPI / Vendee Globe

Finish arrival of Armel Le Cleac’h (FRA), skipper Banque Populaire VIII, winner of the sailing circumnavigation solo race Vendee Globe, in 74d 3h 35min 46sec, with flares in the channel of Les Sables d'Olonne, France, on January 19th, 2017 - Photo Jean Marie Liot / DPPI / Vendee Globe Arrivée de Armel Le Cleac’h (FRA), skipper Banque Populaire VIII, vainqueur du Vendee Globe en 74j 3h 35min 46sec, aux Sables d'Olonne, France, le 19 Janvier 2017 - Photo Jean Marie Liot / DPPI / Vendee Globe

Finish arrival of Armel Le Cleac’h (FRA), skipper Banque Populaire VIII, winner of the sailing circumnavigation solo race Vendee Globe, in 74d 3h 35min 46sec, with flares in the channel of Les Sables d’Olonne, France, on January 19th, 2017 – Photo Jean Marie Liot / DPPI / Vendee Globe

Finish arrival of Armel Le Cleac’h (FRA), skipper Banque Populaire VIII, winner of the sailing circumnavigation solo race Vendee Globe, in 74d 3h 35min 46sec, celebration with Mumm champagne at pontoon of Les Sables d'Olonne, France, on January 19th, 2017 - Photo Jean Marie Liot / DPPI / Vendee Globe Arrivée de Armel Le Cleac’h (FRA), skipper Banque Populaire VIII, vainqueur du Vendee Globe en 74j 3h 35min 46sec, aux Sables d'Olonne, France, le 19 Janvier 2017 - Photo Jean Marie Liot / DPPI / Vendee Globe

Finish arrival of Armel Le Cleac’h (FRA), skipper Banque Populaire VIII, winner of the sailing circumnavigation solo race Vendee Globe, in 74d 3h 35min 46sec, celebration with Mumm champagne at pontoon of Les Sables d’Olonne, France, on January 19th, 2017 – Photo Jean Marie Liot / DPPI / Vendee Globe

Finish arrival of Armel Le Cleac’h (FRA), skipper Banque Populaire VIII, winner of the sailing circumnavigation solo race Vendee Globe, in 74d 3h 35min 46sec, celebration with Mumm champagne at pontoon of Les Sables d'Olonne, France, on January 19th, 2017 - Photo Jean Marie Liot / DPPI / Vendee Globe Arrivée de Armel Le Cleac’h (FRA), skipper Banque Populaire VIII, vainqueur du Vendee Globe en 74j 3h 35min 46sec, aux Sables d'Olonne, France, le 19 Janvier 2017 - Photo Jean Marie Liot / DPPI / Vendee Globe

Finish arrival of Armel Le Cleac’h (FRA), skipper Banque Populaire VIII, winner of the sailing circumnavigation solo race Vendee Globe, in 74d 3h 35min 46sec, celebration with Mumm champagne at pontoon of Les Sables d’Olonne, France, on January 19th, 2017 – Photo Jean Marie Liot / DPPI / Vendee Globe

Finish arrival of Armel Le Cleac’h (FRA), skipper Banque Populaire VIII, winner of the sailing circumnavigation solo race Vendee Globe, in 74d 3h 35min 46sec, with media at pontoon of Les Sables d'Olonne, France, on January 19th, 2017 - Photo Jean Marie Liot / DPPI / Vendee Globe Arrivée de Armel Le Cleac’h (FRA), skipper Banque Populaire VIII, vainqueur du Vendee Globe en 74j 3h 35min 46sec, aux Sables d'Olonne, France, le 19 Janvier 2017 - Photo Jean Marie Liot / DPPI / Vendee Globe

Finish arrival of Armel Le Cleac’h (FRA), skipper Banque Populaire VIII, winner of the sailing circumnavigation solo race Vendee Globe, in 74d 3h 35min 46sec, with media at pontoon of Les Sables d’Olonne, France, on January 19th, 2017 – Photo Jean Marie Liot / DPPI / Vendee Globe

Finish arrival of Armel Le Cleac’h (FRA), skipper Banque Populaire VIII, winner of the sailing circumnavigation solo race Vendee Globe, in 74d 3h 35min 46sec, in Les Sables d'Olonne, France, on January 19th, 2017 - Photo Jean Marie Liot / DPPI / Vendee Globe Arrivée de Armel Le Cleac’h (FRA), skipper Banque Populaire VIII, vainqueur du Vendee Globe en 74j 3h 35min 46sec, aux Sables d'Olonne, France, le 19 Janvier 2017 - Photo Jean Marie Liot / DPPI / Vendee Globe

Finish arrival of Armel Le Cleac’h (FRA), skipper Banque Populaire VIII, winner of the sailing circumnavigation solo race Vendee Globe, in 74d 3h 35min 46sec, in Les Sables d’Olonne, France, on January 19th, 2017 – Photo Jean Marie Liot / DPPI / Vendee Globe

Finish arrival of Armel Le Cleac’h (FRA), skipper Banque Populaire VIII, winner of the sailing circumnavigation solo race Vendee Globe, in 74d 3h 35min 46sec, in Les Sables d'Olonne, France, on January 19th, 2017 - Photo Jean Marie Liot / DPPI / Vendee Globe Arrivée de Armel Le Cleac’h (FRA), skipper Banque Populaire VIII, vainqueur du Vendee Globe en 74j 3h 35min 46sec, aux Sables d'Olonne, France, le 19 Janvier 2017 - Photo Jean Marie Liot / DPPI / Vendee Globe

Finish arrival of Armel Le Cleac’h (FRA), skipper Banque Populaire VIII, winner of the sailing circumnavigation solo race Vendee Globe, in 74d 3h 35min 46sec, in Les Sables d’Olonne, France, on January 19th, 2017 – Photo Jean Marie Liot / DPPI / Vendee Globe

Finish arrival of Armel Le Cleac’h (FRA), skipper Banque Populaire VIII, winner of the sailing circumnavigation solo race Vendee Globe, in 74d 3h 35min 46sec, in Les Sables d'Olonne, France, on January 19th, 2017 - Photo Jean Marie Liot / DPPI / Vendee Globe Arrivée de Armel Le Cleac’h (FRA), skipper Banque Populaire VIII, vainqueur du Vendee Globe en 74j 3h 35min 46sec, aux Sables d'Olonne, France, le 19 Janvier 2017 - Photo Jean Marie Liot / DPPI / Vendee Globe

Finish arrival of Armel Le Cleac’h (FRA), skipper Banque Populaire VIII, winner of the sailing circumnavigation solo race Vendee Globe, in 74d 3h 35min 46sec, in Les Sables d’Olonne, France, on January 19th, 2017 – Photo Jean Marie Liot / DPPI / Vendee Globe

 

October 4, 2014. Team Alvimedica wins the In-Port Race in Alicante.

Young Guns from October 4, 2014. Team Alvimedica wins the In-Port Race in Alicante, Spain. Launching the start of the Volvo Ocean Race 2014-15 (Photo by Ainhoa Sanchez/Volvo Ocean Race)

 

–      American newcomer leaves experienced rivals in wake

–       Catch all the latest Volvo Ocean Race action here

–       And don’t forget to play our great new Official Race Game

ALICANTE, Spain, Oct 4 – Charlie Enright’s smile said it all as he led his young Team Alvimedica crew to victory in the opening skirmish of the Volvo Ocean Race 2014-15 on Saturday.

There’s a long, long way to go and the Alicante in-port race success does not even count towards the offshore overall trophy apart from as a tie-breaker in the case of teams finishing level on points.

But as a confidence-builder for the Turkish/American team, you could hardly beat victory under bright blue skies and 14-knot winds in front of thousands of fans who thronged the Alicante harbour.

Enright was impressively poised afterwards. “Surprised that we’re able to do well? Not that much. We’ve had some good practice, the guys have been working really hard on maneuvres and we’re happy with the win,” he said.

“We haven’t done anything that counts for the overall trophy yet, but it’s a confidence builder, it gives us the feeling that we can do well again.”

Enright (USA), 30, and his right-hand man Mark Towill (USA) know all about fairytale starts after hatching a dream to one day compete in offshore racing’s leading event on the film set of the Disney movie, Morning Light, some seven years ago.

The realisation of that ambition took a lot of determination and the hammering on doors of countless sponsors before Turkish surgical instrument manufacturer Alvimedica CEO Cem Bozkurt finally saw potential in them and supported their campaign.

On the face of Saturday’s surprise result, that confidence could be richly repaid, although it’s obviously very early days.

Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing, winners of the 2011 Alicante in-port race, were denied a repeat triumph by a mere five seconds in just over 14 knots of wind with Spanish entrants MAPFRE third a further 25 seconds adrift.

Generally, the racing could barely have been tighter in almost perfect conditions for sailing and the lead changed hands several times after a storming start with China’s Dongfeng Race Team grabbing the early initiative.

Team Brunel (NED) eventually pipped them for fourth spot with Team SCA’s all-women crew (SWE) leaving Team Vestas Wind (DEN) comfortably behind to take sixth.

Leg 1 from Alicante to Cape Town begins next Saturday. In all, the boats will cover 38,739 nautical miles over nine months before the adventure finishes in Gothenburg, Sweden on June 27, 2015. They will visit 11 ports in all, including a pit-stop in The Hague.

Alicante in-port race results:

1. Team Alvimedica (Turkey/USA) 14:52:02 – 1pt

2. Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing 14:52:07 – 2pts

3. MAPFRE (Spain) 14:52:27 – 3pts

4. Team Brunel (The Netherlands) 14:52:48 – 4pts

5. Dongfeng Race Team (China) 14:53:14 – 5pts

6. Team SCA (Sweden) 14:53:51  – 6pts

7. Team Vestas Wind (Denmark) 14:55:24 – 7pts

Magnificent schooners Athos & Adela - (Photo by RORC/Tim Wright/photoaction.com)

60 yachts from 11 different countries, with 682 crew from all over the world, took part in the 6th edition of the RORC Caribbean 600 and enjoyed spectacular conditions and intense competition.

The last start of the day produced the hair-raising sight of two enormous schooners match racing each other in the last few minutes to the start, bearing down towards the Pillars of Hercules at full speed, only a boat length apart. The 182ft Adela called for water from 203ft Athos, which duly obliged, putting in a smart tack and all 300 tons of her went through the wind. The spritely 200 ton Adela smoked through the line with height and pace to effectively win the start – magnificent!The start gun sounded at Fort Charlotte, high above the Pillars of Hercules and the magnificent international fleet of yachts enjoyed a sparkling send-off with warm trade winds, Caribbean swell and brilliant sunshine.

The breath-taking course around 11 Caribbean islands provided a thrilling race track, with close racing right through the fleet, especially the battle for line honours.

Shockwave by RORC/Tim Wright/

Shockwave by RORC/Tim Wright/

2014 WINNER: SHOCKWAVE 

The closest finish for line honours in the six year history of the RORC Caribbean 600 played out on the last leg of the course. Hap Fauth’s JV72, Bella Mente, George David’s RP90, Rambler and George Sakellaris’ RP72, Shockwave were approaching Redonda – the last island of the course – in fighter formation, readying themselves for a battle royale. The adrenalin levels of the crew were peaking, but a cold beat on the rail awaited them back to the finish in Antigua. After an incredibly demanding 40 hours of non-stop action, the teams were exhausted, but digging deep to summon the energy for a last push to victory.

 

Bella Mente crossed the finish line to take Monohull Line Honours in an elapsed time of 48 hours, 5 minutes, 44 seconds. 10 minutes later, Rambler crossed the finish line in second place, swiftly followed by Shockwave which finished third on the water, just over two minutes later. On corrected time, Shockwave were eventually given the overall win and lifted the RORC Caribbean 600 Trophy.

 

“That is what ocean racing should be all about,” commented Shockwave tactician, Robbie Doyle. “Beautiful racing between three very tough competitors, all fighting it out the whole way. A heavy-weight battle without a doubt – no question. I have had great moments in sail boats, but that was as much fun as I can remember. For 600 miles we were always in touch with each other, either up a few minutes or down a few minutes, and it all came down to the last beat to finish. It was like an epic tennis match.”

 

TOUGH RACE FOR MULTIHULL WINNER 

Erick Clement’s Open 40 trimaran, Dauphin Telecom – Johnny Be Good had just three crew and the team from St.Martin had a gruelling race to take line honours and the Multihull class win; the crew had virtually no sleep, a diet of cold pasta and were drenched throughout the 600 mile course: “It was a tough race, especially at night when we really felt the cold. Just finishing the race was our goal, but we are delighted to take line honours; every racing multihull in the Caribbean should do this race and we would love to take on boats from overseas as well,” commented Erick Clement.

 

2013 OVERALL WINNER TAKES CANTING KEEL CLASS

Last year’s overall winner, Ron O’Hanley’s American Cookson 50, Privateer, won the Canting Keel Class. “This is just a great race; the RORC does a superb job organising it, of making us feel loved. That’s why it’s my favourite and why I keep coming back. It is my fourth time here and we hope to be back next year.”

EPIC BATTLE OF THE SCHOONERS

The magnificent schooners Adela and Athos enjoyed an epic battle. The match racing was incessant with the lead changing hands six times during the race. Adela and Athos were literally metres apart at Redonda where the two leviathans of the race hauled in sheets for the beat to finish. Tack-for-tack and toe-to-toe, the battle raged on to the finish. Ultimately Adela won the last leg to take line honours for the Superyacht Class and the win on corrected time. The friendly rivalry was evident on the dock as Adela deployed their loud-hailing system to broadcast three cheers for Athos, which replied with three blasts from their deafening horns.Greg Perkins, skipper of Adela, was full of praise for his crew and Athos: “An amazing race; Athos is quicker off the wind than us but we’re quicker upwind, so we passed each other at each mark. Going round Redonda, they were within two boat lengths of us and then we managed to pull away on the last leg. Hats off to Athos, they are getting faster and faster and I don’t know if we can keep up with them in the future. I think they sailed really well which made it an amazing experience – two schooners match racing around 600 miles in the Caribbean – you can’t ask for much more than that. I’m very proud of the boys who did a fantastic job; the crew work was flawless. I’ve had this team together for quite some time, which makes such a difference. The important thing when manoeuvring a boat like Adela with two headsails, two mainsails and runners on each of the masts is coordination; it’s such a powerful beast.”

 

PERFECT RACE FOR VROON IN IRC ONE

Piet Vroon’s Dutch Ker 46, Tonnerre de Breskens 3, took line honours and the win in IRC One. Piet is extremely agile for a man in his eighties, and nimbly jumped over the transom of Tonnerre to enjoy a beer with the meet and greet volunteer team in the small hours of the morning. “After the North Sea it was warm and fantastic,” commented Piet Vroon. “There are very few months where it is actually nice to sail back home so this is perfect, even at night. Tonnerre could hardly have done better; good company, no damage, other than the cooking gas running out – it was a perfect race.”

SWAN CHALLENGE TROPHY

Nine yachts from Nautor’s Swan competed in this year’s race, another record for the RORC Caribbean 600. The prestigious Swan Challenge Trophy is awarded to the first Swan to finish on corrected time under IRC and was presented to Anders Nordqvist, owner of Swan 90, Nefertiti.

 

CLASSIC WIN FOR MARIELLA

Carlo Falcone’s 79ft Yawl Mariella, designed in 1936 by Alfred Mylne, entered the race for the first time and decided to put up the Mariella Cup for classic yachts that enter the race. The Italian skipper, flying the Antiguan flag, duly won his own trophy which was received by the owner’s daughter, Shirley Falcone.

 

CLASS40 RECORD

For the second year in a row, the Class40 record for the RORC Caribbean 600 was bettered. Gonzalo Botin’s Tales II showed amazing speed around the course, breaking the 2013 course record set by Peter Harding and Hannah Jenner’s 40 Degrees. The Spanish entry was over three hours quicker than the previous record, finishing the 600 mile race in an elapsed time of 2 days, 16 hours 37 minutes 52 seconds.

 

FIRST LINE HONOURS FOR ANTIGUA

Antiguan dentist, Bernie Evan-Wong said he would be back for his 6th RORC Caribbean 600 with a bigger, faster boat and the Grand Soleil 43, Quokka 8 delivered, taking line honours in IRC Two. It is the first time in the six year history of the race that an Antiguan-skippered yacht has taken line honours in any class. However, Peter Sowrey’s First 40, Lancelot II, with Vendee Globe sailor Alex Thomson on board, put in a gutsy performance to win IRC Two after time correction. “It is a long time since I have raced a boat like Lancelot and this race is hard work; definitely more knackering than an Open 60 and the crew were amazing. A great bunch with talent and enthusiasm,” commented Alex Thomson dockside.

 

DORADE SHOWS CLASS WIN

In IRC Three, Yuri Fadeev’s Reflex 38, Intuition was the first yacht to finish. However, after time correction, Matt Brooks’ Classic Dorade was the winner. Hannah Jenner blogged about the experience on board the S&S 52 yawl:

 

“Although this may sound bizarre, it takes a while to get used to the quiet down below. Most of us come from carbon boat backgrounds and are used to the cacophony of noise that reverberates around the hull as you race. Whilst this may not sound pleasant, once you are used to it, the noise lets you know exactly what is happening with the boat. On Dorade there is no chattering over waves, no highly loaded winches screeching as lines are eased and no slamming on trade wind driven seas. Instead there is the creaking sound of the wooden interior as it twists with the motion of the boat and a gentle sound of water rushing by. Sleep therefore is deep.”

 

INSPIRING RACE FOR PACE

TP52, Pace, was third overall and its owner/driver, Johnny Vincent, was taking part in his first RORC Caribbean 600. “Wow, what an awesome race,” commented Johnny. “RORC have invented a truly outstanding event and I firmly believe it will be regarded as one of the ‘must do’ classic races very soon, perhaps it already is. It’s like a giant Cowes Week course; effectively round the cans but on a grand scale in the sunshine, with warming Antiguan hospitality and many smiling faces. All this in the best sailing waters in the world; surely a formula for success.

 

I have taken part in many regattas and events and I have tried to maintain a very simple philosophy; to sail with a great team of people who create that all-important team spirit aboard and to try to win the event we are participating in. The RORC Caribbean 600 has changed something in me. This race is so completely inspiring that I found the thrill of taking part enough. Testament I think to the race’s pedigree. I have no doubt this event will go from strength to strength. From all of us in Team Pace, ‘thank you’ RORC for a memorable experience.”

 

RORC CEO SUMS IT UP

RORC CEO, Eddie Warden Owen, summed up his thoughts for the RORC Caribbean 600. “This race has grown in stature and it is not just the boats but the number of professional sailors that are here. This gives you an idea of how important it is to win this race. However we’ve now got more local boats, more boats crossing the Atlantic from Europe and yachts coming down from America. 60 yachts starting the RORC Caribbean 600 – that’s pretty impressive for a race that’s only six years old.”

The RORC Caribbean 600 started from Antigua on Monday 24th February 2014

  • 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
  • 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)
  • Records:
    Multihull record holder – Region Guadeloupe in 40 hours 11 mins 5 secs (2009)
    Monohull record held by Rambler 100 in 40 hours 20 mins 02 secs (2011)
  • Class40 race record: Gonzalo Botin’s Tales II (2014), 2 days, 16 hours 37 minutes 52 seconds
  • Organisers:
    • The Royal Ocean Racing Club also called RORC was established in 1925 and has premises in London and Cowes, Isle of Wight. The RORC organises offshore and inshore yacht races in the UK and all over the world, including the Rolex Fastnet Race, The Sevenstar Round Britain and Ireland Race, The Brewin Dolphin Commodores’ Cup, The inaugural RORC Transatlantic Race and The RORC Caribbean 600
    • In co-operation with the French offshore racing club, UNCL, RORC is responsible for IRC, the principal international handicap system for yacht racing worldwide.The Spinlock IRC rating rule is administered jointly by the RORC Rating Office in Lymington, UK and UNCL Centre de Calcul in Paris, France. The RORC Rating Office is the technical hub of the Royal Ocean Racing Club and recognised globally as a centre of excellence for measurement. For Spinlock IRC rating information in the UK please see: www.rorcrating.com

Feature by: Louay Habib

Shockwave at Redonda - Photo by Tim Wright/photoaction.com

Shockwave at Redonda – Photo by RORC/Tim Wright/Photoaction.com

With all 60 yachts accounted for, the Royal Ocean Racing Club announces that the winner of the RORC Caribbean 600 Trophy for the best yacht, overall in IRC on corrected time, is George Sakellaris’ RP72, Shockwave. The trophy was presented to the Shockwave crew at the Prize Giving held at the Antigua Yacht Club.

“I have a great crew and it was an excellent race, lots of wind and the racing was very close,” commented Shockwave’s owner/driver George Sakellaris, shortly after finishing the race. “I have done many offshore races but this is the first time I have raced this one and it was against tough opposition. I think the winds were favourable to us and the Shockwave team used that to our advantage. At the end of the day, winning yacht races is all about the team performance more than anything else.”

Winner of the 2014 RORC Caribbean 600: Shockwave - Photo by RORC/Tim Wright/Photoaction.com

Winner of the 2014 RORC Caribbean 600: Shockwave – Photo by RORC/Tim Wright/Photoaction.com

“That is what ocean racing should be all about,” commented Shockwave tactician, Robbie Doyle. “Beautiful racing between three very tough competitors, all fighting it out the whole way. A heavy-weight battle without a doubt – no question. I have had great moments in sail boats, but that was as much fun as I can remember. For 600 miles we were always in touch with each other, either up a few minutes or down a few minutes, and it all came down to the last beat to finish. It was like an epic tennis match. Every sail change was race critical. Bella Mente is a magic bullet when power reaching; we knew that before the start, so we set about minimising the time lost.”

Robbie Doyle continued, “Bella Mente did a nice job getting through the lee of Guadeloupe by going inshore and at that time she had her time on us. All we tried to do was to stay in touch with her because we knew the race wasn’t over.  The critical point in the race happened just after Barbuda when Bella Mente got under a cloud and literally stopped and we sailed right up to them. After that we knew that if we just stayed in touch, the win would go to Shockwave – that’s yacht racing for you, but what a fantastic experience.”

“With all of the yachts now accounted for, the racing team can join the competitors at tonight’s Prize Giving for a memorable occasion,” commented RORC Racing Manager, Nick Elliott. “There have been some retirements, but we are delighted that there has been only minor damage to yachts. Apart from the expected knocks and bruises for a 600 mile race, everyone is safely ashore and looking forward to a great party.”

The Prize Giving was  Antigua Yacht Club . Winners were  presented with their trophies and medallions. Every competing yacht  received a decanter of English Harbour Rum inscribed with their yacht’s name.

Shockwave crew dockside after the race. Credit: Kevin Johnson/kevinjohnsonphotography.com

Shockwave Crew:Richard Bouzaid (NZL), Jason Carr (GBR), Reginald Cole (USA), Robert Doyle (USA), Jim Gibson (USA), Scott Gregory (CAN), Peter Kingsbury (PRI), Sam Loughborough (USA), Brian McInnis (CAN), Mark McTeigue (AUS), Andy Meiklejohn (NZL), Mark Mendelblatt (USA), Eduardo Natucci (ITA), Liam Newman (SWE), Silas Nolan (AUS), George Sakellaris (USA), Guy Standbridge (GBR), Adrian Stead (GBR), David Swete (NZL), Andrea Visintini (ITA)

A full list of the finishers can be viewed on the RORC Caribbean minisite –http://caribbean600.rorc.org/blog/race-information/results/index.html

Race Report by Louay Habib

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SLEEPER. A great first offshore race for Jonty Layfield's brand new Azuree 46, Sleeper, with Sean Malone on board. Second in IRC One, pipped to the post by RORC Yacht of the Year, Tonnerre de Bresken 3 from the Netherlands Credit: Tim Wright/photoaction.com

SLEEPER. A great first offshore race for Jonty Layfield’s brand new Azuree 46, Sleeper, with Sean Malone on board. Second in IRC One, pipped to the post by RORC Yacht of the Year, Tonnerre de Bresken 3 from the Netherlands
Photo by RORC/Tim Wright/Photoaction.com