George David’s Rambler 100 may have defeated Mike Slade’s ICAP Leopard, but Slade was his usual charming self dockside, he even quoted Shakespeare:
“Well we have to suffer the slings and arrows. Rambler is really quick, we made a valiant effort and we enjoyed ourselves, as we always do. That was just a fantastic sail. We had a few issues which cost us, but Rambler sailed impeccably and hardly put a foot wrong the whole way around the course.”
Clarke Murphy, who has joins forces with Mike Slade on ICAP Leopard for this race and the forthcoming Transatlantic Race, was racing on Leopard for the first time and despite the defeat, was wide-eyed about the experience: “Hitting those speeds hour after hour was just amazing. I couldn’t have asked for a more exciting sail with a great bunch of guys who are really at the top of their game. Early on, just before Barbuda, we had a major issue with the main and although the crew managed to repair it, the sheet went again. Later in the race we had a small tear in the main which we had to fix but we are not making any excuses, Rambler showed how quick they were and were deserving winners.”
While the crews of Leopard and Rambler are enjoying a beer together in the Antigua Yacht Club, the rest of the fleet is still battling away out on the course. It may be perfect Caribbean conditions, but offshore it is a wild bumpy ride with big waves and tricky gusts making life on board difficult. After two nights at sea, fatigue will really become a big factor.
Two Cookson 50s are still racing in IRC Canting Keel. At the moment, Chris Bull’s Jazz has the upper hand 23 miles ahead of Adrian Lee’s Lee Overlay Partners and ahead on handicap.
IRC Zero is producing a fantastic contest between Richard Oland’s Southern Cross 52, Vela Veloce and Peter Harrison’s Sojana. Vela Veloce holds pole position but Sojana may well benefit from the beat to the finish from Redonda, but don’t discount Brian Benjamin’s Carbon Ocean 82, Aegir. They have 70 miles to go and their velocity made good indicates that they are still in with a chance of winning their class.
IRC One has Piet Vroon’s Ker 46, Tonnerre de Breskens still out in front on corrected time, but their closest rivals have been hauling them in. Andy Middleton’s First 47.7, EH01 will be hoping that the breeze holds out. They may be about 50 miles behind Tonnerre on the water, but on corrected time they are still very much in it. Richard Balding’s Swan 60, Fenix has been having a great race and are currently third in class.
The Army Association’s A 40, British Soldier has been the star of the show in IRC Two. However, Christian Reynolds’ Swan 51, Northern Child has been chipping away at the early lead taken by British Soldier.
As far as the overall or individual class winners for the RORC Caribbean 600, the only certainty is that there is still everything to play for.