Leopard and Bella Mente finish RORC Caribbean 600
George David's Juan K designed Rambler 88 set the time to beat for the overall winner of the 7th edition of the RORC Caribbean 600, but it didn't last for long. Hap Fauth's JV72, Bella Mente finished the race just after 1130 on Day Three to set the bar for the remaining yachts to better. Whilst Bella Mente has registered the best time for a yacht racing under IRC, there are several yachts that are in contention to better that: Peter Harrison's TP52, Sorcha, Piet Vroon's Ker 51, Tonnerre 4 and 180ft Dijkstra schooner, Adela.
Mike Slade's Maxi 100, Leopard, sailed by RC44 champion Chris Bake, was the second monohull to finish the race but Leopard's corrected time was not enough to secure the overall lead. Chris Bake's Team Aqua has won the RC44 Championship on four occasions and Chris decided to produce a bucket list of races that the team should do with the RORC Caribbean 600 at the top of the list.
“I’ve been racing One-Design, round the cans for eight years now but I wanted to try a different form of sailing and having a different experience, especially some offshore. The thought of coming down to the Caribbean for a few days in February to do a race like this was very enticing. Cameron Appleton and I talked about it a year ago and we wanted to have quality Aqua Team and some of our graduates. Its been a great time to get everyone together and try something new as Team Aqua.
As for offshore racing, its the good and the bad! Its a different kind of stress because its a more long-dated experience. You’d think you have a lot of time to sit on the rail and watch the sunset or sunrise but in reality I didn’t think there was a lot of time to do anything frankly! It was full on, all the time and quite exciting because of that.
I think that this is a dynamic racecourse. It really tests sailing skills, boat handling and the ability to plan and execute manoeuvres very well so I don’t think there are lot of forgiving elements to the course – it separates the sailors from the non-sailors, put it that way. I’ll definitely be back.”
48 yachts competing under IRC are still out on the race course, and several are in contention for the overall win to lift the RORC Caribbean 600 Trophy.
Peter Harrison's TP52, Sorcha was 112 miles from the finish. The world class crew includes, Olympic medallist and multiple world champion Andy Beadsworth, and Volvo Ocean Race sailor, Campbell Field as skipper. Sorcha will be hoping that the wind speed will increase during the day to increase their chance of an overall win.
For the first 350 miles Sorcha has enjoyed a tremendous battle with Piet Vroon's Ker 51, Tonnerre 4, but Sorcha crucially won the skirmish to the south of Guadeloupe. Just after sunset on Day Two, Sorcha was just ahead of Tonnerre 4 going into the 'stealth zone' in the lee of Guadeloupe, and both yachts chose to take a route right in under the cliffs. Just after rounding Ille de Saintes, Sorcha took a tack to a more southerly position and, by La Desirade had pulled out a six mile lead, which soon stretched to a 17 mile lead as they blasted away towards Barbuda. Sorcha is most certainly the favourite to win the two-boat duel, but the weather gods will need to be in their favour if they are to produce a sprint finish to challenge for the overall win.
Whilst it was sad to see schooner Athos retire last night, the 34-crew of the 203ft 400 tonne schooner were in good spirits after docking in Falmouth Harbour. However their rivals Adela are still battling away and putting in an amazing performance. At 180ft and 300 tonnes, Adela, skippered by Greg Norwood-Perkins, has covered an incredible 500 miles in 48 hours and is currently estimated to be 4th overall after time correction.
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