The 13th edition of the RORC Caribbean 600 blasts off in Antigua
The 13th edition of the RORC Caribbean 600 started on time from Antigua on Monday 21 February. The IRC Super Zero start was nothing short of hell-raising, with Comanche reaching at full speed towards the Pillars of Hercules, then hardening up to take the inside line perilously close to the cliffs. VO65 Groovederci Racing - Sailing Poland, sailed by Deneen Demourkas was in close quarters. As the two leaders tacked out, they crossed with the massive ClubSwan 125 Skorpios (MON) and the Volvo 70 Ocean Breeze coming inshore on starboard. In the MOCRA start, Peter Cunningham's MOD70 PowerPlay (CAY) flipped a wheelie on final approach before blasting off into the lead in a ball of spray at over 25 knots.
Seventy-four teams with over 700 sailors from 32 countries started the race. The Royal Ocean Racing Club's 600-mile race around 11 Caribbean islands had a spectacular start with 15 knots of wind from the northeast gusting up to 20 knots.
Fleet snapshot: DAY 1 - 1500 AST 21 February
Four hours into the race, Giovanni Soldini's Multi70 Maserati (ITA) was leading the Multihull Class from Peter Cunningham's PowerPlay and Jason Carroll's Argo (USA). In the race for Monohull Line Honours, the leader by just a mile, was Dmitry Rybolovlev's ClubSwan 125 Skorpios, skippered by Fernando Echavarri. The VPLP/Verdier 100 Comanche, skippered by Mitch Booth was second on the water. With just over two hours to go until the first sunset of the race, the majority of the fleet were making good progress to Barbuda, the first and only mark of the course.
"The start was just incredible, it's rare to see so many big boats in a start like that, just taking it on, but it was not just the big boats. This fleet is stacked right through all the classes, with competitive starts the whole way through. Good luck to all the teams," commented Race Director Chris Stone. "Making sure the fleet get away to a good start is the first part of this stage of the race management. We continue to focus on the safety aspects out on the race course. There will be different weather conditions and some parts of the course are pretty treacherous. For the RORC Race team it is about keeping the fleet safe, with 24-hour monitoring for every boat."
IRC One and IRC Two START
Yuri Fadeev's First 40 Optimus Prime (GBR) nailed the inshore end of the line, closely followed by Ross Applebey's Oyster 48 Scarlet Oyster (GBR). Bernie Evan-Wong's RP37 Taz (ANT) also had a great start. Stuart Dahlgreen racing J/121 Wings (USA) was OCS by just five seconds, but restarted correctly.
Four hours into the race, Tom Kneen's JPK 1180 Sunrise (GBR) and Ed Bell's JPK 1180 Dawn Treader (GBR) were neck-and neck at the front or IRC One. Just a mile behind the leaders, Andrew Hall's Lombard 46 Pata Negra (GBR) was going well. In IRC Two, two old rivals were battling for the lead on the water: Andy Middleton's First 47.7 EH01 (GBR) and Scarlet Oyster. Pamala Baldwin's J/122 Liquid (ANT), skippered by Julian White was just three miles behind the leaders.
IRC ZERO and Class40 start
Christopher Sheehan's Pac52 Warrior Won (USA) totally nailed the start, ripping over the line at full pace towards the lifting pressure. David Collins' Botin IRC 52 Tala (GBR) was second over the line. On her hip with a good controlling position was Jean Pierre Dreau's Mylius 60 Lady First 3 (FRA). In the Class40 Division, Herve Thomas' Finnimo (FRA) got the best start, staying out of the melee inshore. Baptiste Hulin & Clement Commagnac's Rennes - Saint Malo (FRA) and Marc Lepesqueux's Sensation Class40 Extreme (FRA) tucked right in under the cliffs and crossed the line in good shape.
Four hours into the race, Warrior Won (USA) was leading on the water, two miles astern was their Pac52 sistership Callisto (USA) sailed by Jim Murray and Tala (GBR). In the Class40 Division, Finnimo held a one-mile lead from Charles-Louis Mourruau's Guidi (FRA). Sensation Class40 Extreme was third on the water.