The RORC Caribbean 600, which takes in 14 islands along a 605 mile route, returns this year for a second outing. By the end of 2009, big names had already signed up including the 100-foot super maxi ICAP Leopard, owned by London property millionaire Mike Slade, with a crew representing who’s who of yacht racing talent from all over the world. The colossal canting keel flyer holds twelve world records in total and, as All at Sea went to press, was slated to be shipped from Sydney after the Rolex Sydney Hobart Race.
“It will be a quick turnaround at Hobart”, commented Leopard’s boat captain, Chris Sherlock, “but we are determined to make the Caribbean Race because the beautiful trade wind conditions, blue sea, blue sky and guaranteed wind are the perfect conditions for a boat like Leopard”.
Also coming from the Sydney to Hobart race on the same boat is the 2009 Rolex Fastnet Race winner, Niklas Zennström’s JV 72, Rán, which has as its skipper the world class helmsman Tim Powell. Powell is backed up by a top class team including stars from the America’s cup and Volvo Ocean Race, Steve Hayles, Ado Stead, Jeremy Robinson, Andy Hemmings and many more.
Joining Rán and Leopard in the race will be the Farr 80 Beau Geste, whose owner Karl Kwok hails from Hong Kong and has his own star-studded line up of professional sailors from the America’s Cup and the Volvo Ocean Race, including principle helmsman, New Zealander Gavin Brady, Italian tactician Francesco de Angelis and Ericsson 4 bowman Phil Jameson.
From America, expect to see two very competitive boats: Roger Sturgeon’s STP 65, Rosebud, which won the 2007 Rolex Sydney Hobart and has South African duo Johno Swain and Mike Joubert as part of the crew. Also expected is Antigua race week veteran Tom Hill with his brand new Reichel Pugh 75, Titan.
Last year’s overall winner, Adrian Lee’s Cookson 50, Lee Overlay Partners, will also be back to defend her title, but she will have stiff opposition from her sister ship, another Cookson 50 called Privateer, which is based on the east coast of America.
From Italy, Danilo Salsi’s stunning Swan 90, DSK Pioneer, will be back to try and win the race: “Last year the boat was brand new and we had not tested her in such tough conditions,” said Andrea Casale, DSK’s’ world champion helmsman. “This year the boat will be pushed much harder to try and win the race, because we know that this beautifully built boat can take the Caribbean conditions”.
Also expect to see a good fleet of Class 40s who will be Caribbean based after their Atlantic crossing in the Solidaire du Chocolat two-handed race from France to Mexico.
John Burnie, one of the founders of the race and a member of both RORC and Antigua Yacht Club who support the race, says that the event will become a showcase for the Caribbean. “This race is destined to become one of the classic ocean races ranked alongside the world famous Rolex Fastnet and Rolex Sydney Hobart races,” he said. “The quality of the competitors means that the world’s media will be focused on Antigua and the Caribbean next February.”
Burnie will be sailing Region Guadeloupe, the ORMA 60 Trimaran that he chartered for the 2009 race. It was a sleigh ride he will never forget and he cannot wait to do it again.
Highly experienced Antiguan yachtsman, Bernie Evan Wong will definitely be back to defend his class win. “If you love sailing and adventure it’s hard to beat the RORC Caribbean 600 … the 2010 event will be much bigger than the last, a definite must!”
For more information and online entry: www.caribbean600.rorc.org
Preview and photos submitted by Louay Habib, RORC Caribbean 600