Day One - Expert Comentary from John Burnie
The RORC Caribbean 600 race has delivered solid NE winds of 18-22 kts as predicted and all classes started cleanly in a freshening breeze. The line favoured a port tack and many yachts opted to start on that tack - in the largest group second start Ambersail showed a clean pair of heels on port. In fact only two or three boats favoured a starboard tack in the first three starts and Windrose looked balanced and powerful with both main and foresail reefed in her conventional approach. As the start sequences progressed a rainsquall passed through the fleet causing yachts to reef in anticipation. A slight lull immediately after the squall saw the multihulls shaking the reefs out at their one-minute signal during the fourth and last start sequence.
At the time of writing all of the fleet have passed York Island and are fast reaching towards the Barbuda mark. This is a mark that is easy to over stand as the wind turns slightly east as it runs down the island shore. Rambler has showed an impressive turn of speed - she is leading and holding a course directly on the rhumbline with Leopard 3 holding a slightly higher course some 2 miles astern.
Tonnerre is showing a good position on the rhumbline among the larger boats and Oystercatcher is lying in an impressive 6th place, match racing Vela Voce, snapping at the heels of Aegir, with the Swan 80 Selene just behind.
The Gunboat 66 Phaedo is also fast, accelerating up to 16 kts in the perfect trade wind conditions which has seen her move up to 5th place on the water. The whole fleet is experiencing winds up to 20 kts on the beam - but high reaching speeds in the fleet will see apparent wind angles of 60 degrees and less.
Everyone will be planning and looking towards the first big gybe as they round the first mark off Bermuda - the North Sails mark is sitting directly in the wind acceleration area off Barbuda. Here the competitors change to a port pole as they reach off towards the turning point off Nevis some 60 miles away.
Yachts above the rhumbline will have to sail a deeper angle into the mark and an exciting manoeuvre is guaranteed for all the competitors as they approach the area.