Peter had also sold me on the Middle Sea Race two years earlier. "Interesting race in the Med," he had said. "There isn't always much breeze, but it is the most beautiful and scenic RORC race of all."
Well Peter was lying through his teeth. Not only did we have plenty of breeze for the Middle Sea Race (winds of 50+ knots, enlivened further by lightning and huge hailstones), but scenic though that race admittedly is, with its volcanoes and views - for stunning beauty and spectacle it is not a patch on the new Caribbean 600.
At the pre-race party at Antigua Yacht Club, everyone's spirits were high. We were all in it together, right at the beginning of a brand new venture. The free rum punches flowed and already the whole thing was clearly a very good idea.
The race started from Antigua. We came out of English Harbour and turned left, everyone with a sense of excitement as the race got underway. With a steady 20 knot breeze the yachts heeled in the sunshine, heading north to a mark off Barbuda, then Nevis, Saba, St Barts, circling St Maarten and heading down to Guadaloupe (the most southerly point of the race), before back up to Barbuda, and then returning to Antigua and the finish line.
Caribbean island after Caribbean island grew steadily from small smudges on the horizon into towering cliffs, beaches and palm trees rising out of deep turquoise seas.
There were breathtaking sunsets, orange light trailing a gleaming path across the rolling waves as Nisida surfed down wind.
At night the moon was a thin slither, but the great expanse of sky arching above us was crammed with stars of all sizes, strange and exhilarating.