Karl James walks the course for the RORC Caribbean 600
Karl James is one of Antigua's finest sailors having competed in the Laser class for Antigua & Barbuda at the 1996 and 2000 Olympic games. He runs the dinghy sailing centre at the Antigua Yacht Club, coaching locals and visitors to the island.
Karl races with some of the most prestigious yachts and is an expert on local knowledge. "During the past few weeks we have had some unusual weather with the wind coming from all directions." Said Karl. "It is very difficult to say what the conditions will be like come race day but I feel that the wind direction is starting to become consistently from the east south east and will probably stay that way for some time and several weather forecasts are agreeing with this".
After an upwind start, at the bottom of the island the boats sail east and then gradually turn towards the north east as they sail around the windward side of Antigua on their way to the North Sails mark, the only laid mark in the course positioned to the south east of Barbuda. From here the fleet should enjoy fast spinnaker reaching conditions on their way to Nevis and if the wind stays in the south east the fleet should have similar conditions on the way to Saba.
The breeze could freshen up by Tuesday morning and the long leg from St Martin to Guadeloupe could well see the wind on the nose. By Wednesday, the wind may lessen a little which might favour the bigger boats on handicap, as many of them may well have finished the race.
"In general the conditions look set to be lighter than last year and the boats will need to be attentive at night when the wind speed may drop a little.' Said Karl "This may not be a fast race but there are so many wonderful things to see on the way. The Pillars of Hercules at the start are a symbol of sailing in Antigua and I especially like the view at the back of the ‘butterfly island' Gaudeloupe with its high cliffs and water falls and of course there is the recent volcanic activity in Montserrat that the sailors will view close up."
You can download an overview of the course here: RORC Caribbean 600 Race Overview 20/02/2010, 11:02