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Wrap up Report - RORC Caribbean 600

Seventy-three teams with 700 sailors from 37 different countries took part in the 12th edition of the RORC Caribbean 600. Disruption to the trade winds produced a tactical and strategic battle in predominantly light air. The traditional trade wind experience of blasting around the 600nm course was replaced with wind traps at most of the 11 Caribbean islands. Avoiding the windless lees and making use of the acceleration zones were the key to a winning performance. There were battles right through the fleet and sightings of breaching whales, dolphins and turtles which enhanced the sublime vistas.

Tilmar Hansen’s TP52 Outsider (GER) is the first German boat to win the RORC Caribbean 600 Trophy, having posted the best corrected time under IRC, and breaking a seven-year winning streak for American boats. Outsider finished the race on Thursday 27th February, which just happened to be Tilmar’s 70th birthday!

“This is a great race, one of the greatest experiences in my 38 years with this team,” commented Tilmar Hansen. “We kept going and that is down to excellent teamwork and a well-prepared boat. Outsider is not just a German boat, the team is also from Australia, Denmark, USA, Poland, Netherlands and Austria. Congratulations to the RORC for their meticulous organisation and also to Antigua for the fantastic welcome.”

David & Peter Askew’s Volvo 70 Wizard (USA) took Monohull Line Honours for the second consecutive year. “In the early part of the race it was about just keeping the boat going the best we could,” commented Peter Askew. “Wizard is not the best light airs boat, that’s for sure. We had to dig ourselves out of a hole. We finally got around Outsider (TP52) at Monserrat and Prospector (Mini Maxi) at Guadeloupe. We got into really good breeze up to Barbuda, just blast reaching, doing 22-24 knots the whole way.”

The fight for Multihull Line Honours produced a blockbuster with three of the world’s fastest multihulls playing out a fascinating confrontation. The lead changed hands at least seven times between Peter Cunningham’s Powerplay (CAY), Jason Carroll’s Argo (USA), and Giovanni Soldini’s Maserati Multi70. Cunningham’s PowerPlay, skippered by Ned Collier Wakefield (GBR) took line honours by just four minutes from Argo, winning the last throw of the dice on the home stretch to Antigua.

“I gave up counting the number of times the lead changed - I didn’t have enough fingers,” commented Peter Cunningham. “It was the most fantastic race. Absolutely unbelievable. The PowerPlay team is fantastic - the organisation and the number of sail changes we had to make all the way through, especially considering the soul-destroying flat spots. You know you come into the hole first and then end up third or fourth - it could change so easily. We had some tough times but nobody worried. We had a bit of a laugh when we had a virtual drink every now and again, plus a chocolate mint when we did well. Argo really were fantastic - right to the end, the boats were so evenly matched.”

The winner of the MOCRA Class was Adrian Keller’s Nigel Irens 83ft catamaran Allegra. Christiaan Durrant (AUS) racing his Nigel Irens 63ft Trimaran Shockwave was runner-up. Jason Carroll’s MOD70 Argo (USA) was third.

“We didn’t make it to the finish line in the last two long races, so we are very happy and it is even sweeter to win MOCRA,” commented Adrian Keller. “As the heaviest boat in the class we don’t like light air, but a special sail we call a J0 allows us to go pretty tight to the wind. As soon as we get into 15 knots and more, we are really fast, and it was tremendous fun. One of the deciding parts of this race was how long you were parked up. We did a good job at most of the islands, but like everyone else, we stopped in the lee of Guadeloupe. However, when you get around the corner and that trade wind hits you, it’s full on.”

IRC Zero was won by Outsider, with Wizard second. Eric de Turckheim’s NMD54 Teasing Machine (FRA) was third. The Bella Mente Trophy was won by Landry, Siwicki & Roesch’s Mills 68 Prospector (USA).

Giles Redpath’s Lombard 46 Pata Negra (GBR) was victorious in IRC One, second in class was Philippe Frantz’s NMD43 Albator (FRA) and Placido Arango García-Urtiaga’s Swan 65 Libelula (ESP) was third and winner of the Swan Challenge Cup.

“We enjoy the sailing and these boats, especially in this race when we have hours and hours of fast reaching, surfing away,” commented Giles Redpath. “The crew are all friends and there is a lot of camaraderie on board. There is an extremely nice atmosphere on board. We had some beautiful moments such as breaching whales near Barbuda. This is a very special race with stunning scenery and always boats to race, anywhere on the course – a lot of fun!”

IRC Two was won by Scarlet Oyster; the sixth class win for the Oyster 48 and the seventh for the Oyster 48's skipper Ross Applebey (GBR). Pamala Baldwin’s J/122 Liquid (ANT), skippered by Jules White was runner-up. Global Yacht Racing’s First 47.7 EH01 (GBR), skippered by Andy Middleton, was third.

“That was easily the toughest race I have done both mentally and physically, there was so may twist and turns,” commented Ross Applebey. “The close racing with young friend Jules (White), and of course Andy (Middleton) with EH01 saw us stick together with a bungee for half the race. When you get parked up you have to regroup and come back, and our crew just kept working - they were incredible. It was a real war of attrition the whole way around. You invest so much into this race, to try and do the best you can, and this year it was very close.”

IRC Three was won by Peter McWhinnie’s JPK 10.80 In Theory (USA). Richard Oswald’s Emily of Cowes, skippered by Katy Campbell (CAN) was second, Yoyo Gerssen’s Ohlson 35 Cabbyl Vane was determined to finish the race and after almost exactly five days, crossed the line to take third. IRC Two Handed was won by Richard Palmer’s JPK 10.10 Jangada (GBR) adding to their overall win in the RORC Transatlantic Race. Last year’s race winner, Jeremi Jablonski’s Hanse 430 Avanti (USA) was second.

Peter McWhinnie’s team is mainly from the Larchmont YC situated on Larchmont Harbor in Westchester County, New York:

“The team are very experienced and in Long Island Sound we have learnt a few tricks on how to keep going in light airs,” commented Peter McWhinnie. “The biggest gain during the race was in the lee of St. Kitts. We kept going and stretched out six miles on our class. If the wind had not dropped off on Thursday, we would have had a real chance of winning the race overall. The team is all Corinthian and we are really happy with our performance.”

The Class40 Division was won by BHB, sailed by Arthur Hubert (FRA). Morgane Ursault-Poupon’s UP Sailing (FRA) was runner-up. Arnt Bruhns’ Iskareen (GER) completed the podium.

“Our boat is designed for really strong wind, so it was a bit tricky for us, but we really enjoyed the race - fighting with other boats,” commented Arthur Hubert. “BHB is really powerful reaching but we knew UP Sailing would be faster in the light. So the overall strategy was to keep close to them in the light and attack when the wind was stronger. Up Sailing is also from St. Malo so we are friends but there was no talking between us when we were racing. This race is really good for getting data to develop the boat because we sail at many wind angles and wind speeds. BHB has come second twice, so to win was very satisfying.”

The last boat to finish the race, Cabbyl Vane, arrived the morning after the Prize Giving. The 1974 Ohlson 35 has been beautifully restored and optimised for offshore sailing. Last year the Dutch brothers, Yoyo and Jan Gerssen, raced two-handed but retired, exhausted in the tough conditions. This year they were joined by Sam Frampton, and Gertjan Andel. A huge gathering at the Antigua Yacht Club cheered their arrival.

“This means so much to us,” smiled Yoyo Gerssen. “We were determined to finish the race and that is down to the crew and a great boat. Racing 600 miles in Cabbyl Vane is a long way, but she was solid and so were the team. It was never in doubt that we would finish and Jan made his flight back to Holland. It means so much to me and my brother, a big thanks to Sam and Gertjan, and of course the RORC for the 600 – it is a wonderful experience.”

The 13th edition of the RORC Caribbean 600 will start from Fort Charlotte, Nelson’s Dockyard on Monday 22 February 2021. 

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Royal Ocean Racing Club - since 1925

The RORC was founded in 1925 to encourage long distance yacht racing and the design, building and navigation of sailing vessels in which speed and seaworthiness are combined. Today the club encourages ocean, long distance and other forms of yacht racing and yachting activity.