Arguably the best fleet of offshore racing yachts that has ever gathered in the Caribbean took part in the 7th edition of the RORC Caribbean 600. Sixty-six yachts started the 600 mile race around 11 Caribbean islands, with numerous world champions, America’s Cup and Volvo Ocean Race sailors taking part with passionate Corinthian amateurs, many of whom are members of the Royal Ocean Racing Club.
After a classic trade wind start the wind shifted south of east and decreased on the second day, which added gravitas to the tactical decision making for many yachts as they approached the wind shadow of Guadeloupe. By day three, the winds were back to provide exhilarating racing. By day four, the wind had built to over 20 knots, with gusts in excess of 30 knots and the beat to finish in Antigua became a real test for the remaining yachts and exhausted crew.
Lloyd Thornburg’s MOD 70, Phaedo3, crossed the finish line in an elapsed time of 33h:35m:30s, breaking the multihull race record set by Claude Thelier and John Burnie’s ORMA 60, Region Guadeloupe by 6h:35m:35s, a record that has stood since the first race.
“Fast, really fast,” commented a shattered-looking Lloyd Thornburg as Phaedo3 tied up in Falmouth Harbour. “Sailing with Michel Desjoyeaux has been an incredible experience. When I was driving, he pushed me out of my comfort zone and then got the guys to wind on the sails even more and the speed just kept climbing and my confidence and experience with it. Surfing at over 30 knots for hours is just an incredible experience.”
Hap Fauth’s American JV72, Bella Mente, was declared the overall winner of the 2015 RORC Caribbean 600. It was third time lucky for Bella Mente as the Maxi 72 has finished second overall for the past two years. Bella Mente was also the winner of the highly competitive IRC Zero Class and retained the Bella Mente Trophy as the first IRC Yacht to finish that is wholly manually powered, without either variable or moveable ballast.
“This is our third go at winning this race and three is the beauty!” said Fauth. “The majority of this team have been with me for at least five years; it is an outstanding group of guys. Everybody works together, it is our big strength; the crew did a phenomenal job.”
George David’s Juan K designed Rambler 88 took Monohull Line Honors, approximately four hours short of the monohull race record, set by his previous yacht, Rambler 100, in 2011.
David commented: “Rambler 88 was ahead of the monohull race record for some time, but the wind angle on the long leg to Guadeloupe was tighter than in 2012. Rambler 88 is probably faster on every point of sail than the Rambler 100, but the weather really didn’t work for us this year.”
The 182ft twin-mast schooner Adela, won the Superyacht and Spirit of Tradition Classes and placed fifth in IRC overall; an incredible performance that skipper Greg Norwood-Perkins was rightly proud of. “An IRC weapon!” laughed Greg. “It takes every sinew of muscle and brain-power to sail her to the maximum, everyone has to be at the very top of their game.”
Bella Mente was the winner of IRC Zero with Peter Harrison’s TP52, Sorcha, in second place. One of the big stories was Sorcha’s battle with Piet Vroon’s Ker 51, Tonnerre 4. Equally matched, the two teams battled side by side and were utterly exhausted by the finish.
William Coates, Texan Ker 43, Otra Vez, was the runaway winner of IRC One, even after starting half an hour late with a mainsail problem. “The conditions definitely suited our type of boat compared to the heavy displacement opposition in Music and Maximizer,” commented Coates. “This is the first race for us but we are definitely coming back, the course is just awesome and the event is the best organized regatta in the Caribbean.”
Ross Applebey’s Oyster 48, Scarlet Oyster, won IRC Two for the third time. Scarlet Oyster finished 81 seconds ahead of EH01. Northern Child finished in third place, just under one minute behind EH01 on corrected time.
IRC Three produced the closest contest of any class with a number of yachts taking the lead around the course. With the wind up to 20 knots, gusting 30, the beat to the finish was extremely tough. Ed Fishwick’s Sunfast 36, Redshift, took the class title but he was hard pressed. Yuri Fadeev’s Russian crew on the First 40.7, Intuition, led the fleet at Redonda but lost a sail over the side, which cost them an hour to retrieve in the rough seas. Louis-Marie Dussere’s JPK 10.10, Raging Bee, sailing double-handed, finished third in class, her highly experienced French skipper exclaiming: “The standard of the competition and conditions were more difficult than any Fastnet.”
For full results, visit: http://caribbean600.rorc.org
Report by Louay Habib. Compiled by Gary Brown