Buzzing in Antigua
With the big showdown done and dusted between the Maxis. It was a full ten hours before the third yacht crossed the finish line of the RORC Caribbean 600.
Peter Harrison's magnificent 115 ketch, Sojana, has produced a powerful performance, completing the course on Wednesday afternoon. There were happy smiles on board, especially Peter Harrison who has been an admirer of the race since conception. "Due to circumstances, we couldn't race in the first two editions but it was third time lucky and what a magnificent race this is, it is a fantastic way to see some of the beautiful islands in the Caribbean." Commented Peter dockside.
Next home was Brian Benjamin's stunning Carbon Ocean 82, Aegir. Brian typifies the characters in this sport. "We broke a few things but that was to be expected really, this is the first time that the new boat has been fully tested. It is always better to win but I will always remember my first race with this delightful boat and the great people that were sailing on her." Commented Benjamin after tying up.
Lloyd Thornburg's head turning Gunboat 66, Phaedo, finished the race in the early evening. The Lamborghini-orange hull has been flashing around the course, eating up the miles. "Phaedo, just finished the Caribbean 600, would like to thank everyone of my team, awesome team, 5th to finish, THAT'S what I am taking about" said Lloyd Thornburg.
Soon after Phaedo. Richard Oland's Southern Cross 52, Vela Veloce, crossed the finish line. Richard hails from Canada as do many of the crew. Last year, Vela Veloce were second overall to Beau Geste and it looks likely that they will be a bridesmaid again this year. That may seem tough but the crew was rightly proud of their achievement. Vela Veloce's crew are not out and out professionals bar one; two-time Volvo Ocean Race winner, Stu Bannatyne, who is preparing for his fifth lap of the planet with Team Camper.
"We didn't really make any big gains or losses around the course, we just kept chipping away and sailing the boat to the best of our ability, I am not just pleased with the result, I am delighted" said Stu Bannatyne dockside "Richard and all the crew showed great dedication and handled the boat well, but in fast reaching conditions, Vela Veloce was never going to get near Rambler."
Chris Bull's Jazz and Adrian Lee's Lee Overlay Partners, both Cookson 50s, had a great battle on the water but it was Jazz that pulled away in the latter part of the race, to take second place in the Canting Keel Class, behind Rambler 100. Chris Bull's crew is multi-national: British, Maltese and Australian accents were joined by the Lithuanian team from Ambersail and the crews from Oyster Catcher XXVIII and Lee Overlay Partners, who have a largely Irish contingent. There was a lively meeting of minds in the Antigua Yacht Club bar, until the small hours. One of the features of the RORC Caribbean 600, is that the Antigua Yacht Club make sure that the bar is always open, no matter what time, to welcome the crews back to Antigua.
The longest yacht competing in the RORC Caribbean 600 is the 152 ft classic schooner, Windrose of Amsterdam. Boat captain, Alex Howard was joined by RORC Commodore Andrew McIrvine and CEO Eddie Warden Owen, along with several members of the RORC and the Royal Yacht Squadron. "I am a really big fan of the race." Commented Howard. "The event is an ideal way to enjoy sailing on Windrose and other spirit of tradition yachts. The regular crew and our guests got on very well and we have all enjoyed the experience and pushed the boat hard in lively conditions. I am pleased to say the job list for repairs is very small indeed."
McIrvine and Warden Owen both agreed that the crew had jelled together during the race, exemplified by a difficult gybe and spinnaker drop at Redonda, which was executed with some aplomb for a crew that had only been together for a few days.
Undoubtedly the star of the show on day three of the RORC Caribbean 600 was Richard Oland's Vela Veloce, more competitors are expected to arrive in Antigua during the day.