A new race is born
A new exciting offshore race is born, the inaugural RORC Caribbean 600 kicked off at 1100 local time. Solid breeze from the east nudging 20 knots rising to over 25 knots in the squalls was the order of the day but the big factor was the sea state; long rollers some as high as four metres tested the driving skills to the maximum.
First away were all of the monohulls bar the IRC Super Zero Class. David Aisher's Rogers 46, Yeoman XXXII, got a great start, choosing to take the island shore they looked to be lifted and within seconds they were in clear air ahead of the fleet.
Next away was the big boat fleet, IRC Super Zero, Mike Slade's 100ft Maxi, ICAP Leopard, was on starboard but was shy of the line as Danilo Salsi's Swan 90, DSK Pioneer, nailed the start. ICAP Leopard was not behind for long, blasting through the waves like an express train to pass the Swan 90.
It was a full twenty minutes before the amazing sight of the ORMA 60 trimaran, Region Guadeloupe, bore away across the start line at a phenomenal speed, raising a windward hull towards Antigua, to salute the start of the multihull division.
As the fleet began to pass Willoughby Bay, ICAP Leopard stretched her lead on the fleet, in the fresh conditions. Of the smaller boats, Tony Lawson's Class 40, Concise, was up to speed, achieving ten knots upwind and leading the class on the water, however Bernie Evan-Wong's Mumm 36, Café Americano High Tension, had one of the best starts of the day and was going extremely well.
John Burnie's Region Guadeloupe, had a storming beat and was hauling in overall race leader, ICAP Leopard, in dramatic style. The trimaran passed the 100ft Maxi, two minutes before the first mark, (and only mark of the race course) North Sails, off the south west coast of Barbuda. After nearly four hours of racing, the crew of Region Guadeloupe were probably grinning from ear to ear; averaging just under 19 knots of boat speed, seven miles ahead of ICAP Leopard.