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Paradox the first yacht to finish takes to the air. Photography by Tim Wright, Photoaction.com, RORC Caribbean 600
Paradox the first yacht to finish takes to the air. Photography by Tim Wright, Photoaction.com, RORC Caribbean 600

RORC Caribbean 600: A Tough Race in Paradise

With warm Tradewinds gusting up to 30 knots for over four days, the RORC Caribbean 600 was a lively affair and many seasoned competitors declared that it was tougher than the Fastnet but a lot warmer! There was drama right from the start, Tony Todd’s 100ft Maxi Liara was dismasted. “Two tacks and then the rig came down, we had barely sailed 600 metres instead of 600 miles,” shrugged devastated crewmember Matt Curthoys. “It went at deck level to leeward, luckily no one was hurt but we were all gutted not to do the race.”

The first yacht to finish was Peter Aschenbrenner’s ballistic 63ft trimaran, Paradox. The American multihull with the legendary Cam Lewis on board scorched around the 600-mile track in an astonishing 40-hour sprint, just 11 minutes outside the course record set by ORMA 60, Region Guadeloupe in 2009. “Paradox is two tons heavier than an ORMA 60 and the rig is 18ft shorter, to come so close to beating the record was a big surprise but the conditions were absolutely perfect, it was a wild ride but we were perfectly in control from start to finish,” said Aschenbrenner.

The first monohull to finish was Mike Slade’s 100ft Maxi ICAP Leopard, crewed by top professional sailors from the Volvo Ocean Race, including tactician and multiple world champion, Robert Greenhalgh. ICAP Leopard completed the course in just under 46 hours. Hap Fauth’s JV72, Bella Mente was next, but the Mini Maxi did not win after time correction.

The RORC Race Team gave Ron O’Hanley the good news that his Cookson 50, Privateer, had beaten Hap Fauth’s American JV72, Bella Mente, by just over 22 minutes on corrected time to top the leader board for IRC Overall. Privateer’s win was made sweeter by the fact that last year the team sailed an epic race only to come through the finish line and find that they had been docked a 10% penalty for a starting infringement.

“Elated, but relieved there is not another leg!” exclaimed Ron O’Hanley dockside in Antigua. “It is a fantastic race, the RORC do a phenomenal job and we are all delighted to be back here again for the third time. After last year we knew there was some unfinished business and we put that away, which was very sweet.”

Shortly after Privateer’s emotional return to Antigua the mighty schooner Adela, skippered by Greg Perkins, returned to the dock. Their IRC corrected time of 3d 6h 26s secured their win in the Spirit of Tradition Class, Superyacht Class and third overall in IRC. Adela had an exceptional race, worthy of their podium place for the overall title.

On Saturday morning, after five days at sea, The Royal Armoured Corp Offshore Race Team, racing Swan 48, Patriot, skippered by Capt. Richard Luckyn-Malone, crossed the finish line, as the last yacht to complete the course. As the vintage Swan entered Falmouth Harbour a dozen or more Superyachts heralded their arrival with a cacophony of horns. The British Army team were greeted in true RORC Caribbean 600 style: Three cheers, cold beers, hot rotis and a massive crowd of well wishers greeting them.

Packed with competitors, friends and family, Antigua Yacht Club was filled beyond capacity as close to a thousand revellers gathered for the RORC Caribbean 600 Prize Giving.

Royal Ocean Racing Club CEO, Eddie Warden Owen opened the proceedings and welcomed the Honourable Winston Williams, Minister of Sport for Antigua and Barbuda, to address the crowd. In a rousing speech, the crowd joined the Minister in hailing the 5th RORC Caribbean 600 as a tremendous success.

A partisan crowd cheered every team going up to the stage to collect their prizes and every competing yacht was presented with a decanter of rum engraved with their name. The biggest cheers on the night were reserved for the victorious team Privateer, they received a big roar from the crowd as Ron O’Hanley lifted the RORC Caribbean 600 Trophy.

For more information go to the RORC mini site: www.caribbean600.rorc.org

Louay Habib is a freelance yachting journalist. For the past 20 years, he has competed at yachting regattas and offshore events all over the world and represented England in the 2004 Rolex Commodore’s Cup. He writes for a variety of clients including; the Volvo Ocean Race and the Royal Ocean Racing Club and numerous Caribbean regattas.

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