Seventy-three teams with 700 sailors from 37 different countries took part in the 12th edition of the RORC Caribbean 600. Disruption to the trade winds produced a tactical and strategic battle in predominantly light air. The traditional trade wind experience of blasting around the 600nm course was replaced with wind traps at most of the 11 Caribbean islands. Avoiding the windless lees and making use of the acceleration zones were the key to a winning performance. There were battles right through the fleet and sightings of breaching whales, dolphins and turtles which enhanced the sublime vistas.
The 2020 RORC Caribbean 600 prize giving was held on Friday 29th February celebrating a fascinating race. 700 sailors from 37 countries, joined by the Antiguan yachting community, gathered at the Antigua Yacht Club for a grand finale to congratulate winners. All of the participating teams were honoured with a personalised souvenir in the shape of decanters, suitably filled with English Harbour 5-year-old Rum!
The overall winner of the 12th edition of the RORC Caribbean 600 was Tilmar Hansen’s TP52 Outsider (GER), skippered by Bo Teichmann. Outsider is the first German boat to lift the RORC Caribbean Trophy, breaking a seven-year winning streak of winners from the USA. Runner-up was the defending champion, David & Peter Askew’s Volvo 70 Wizard (USA), which also took Monohull Line Honours. One of the smallest boats in the race was third, Peter McWhinnie’s JPK 10.80 In Theory (USA).
“This is a great race, one of the greatest experiences in my 38 years with this team,” commented Tilmar Hansen. “We kept going and that is down to excellent teamwork and a well-prepared boat. Outsider is not just a German boat, the team is also from Australia, Denmark, USA, Poland, Netherlands and Austria. Congratulations to the RORC for their meticulous organisation and also to Antigua for the fantastic welcome.”
IRC Zero was won by Outsider, with Wizard second. Eric de Turckheim’s NMD54 Teasing Machine (FRA) was third. The Bella Mente Trophy was won by Landry, Siwicki & Roesch’s Mills 68 Prospector (USA).
Giles Redpath’s Lombard 46 Pata Negra (GBR) was victorious in IRC One. Second in class was Philippe Frantz’s NMD43 Albator (FRA) closely followed by Placido Arango García-Urtiaga’s Swan 65 Libelula (ESP) in third and winner of the Swan Challenge Cup.
“We enjoyed the sailing and these boats, especially in this race when we have hours and hours of fast reaching, surfing away,” commented Giles Redpath. “The crew are all friends and there is a lot of camaraderie and an extremely nice atmosphere on board. We had some beautiful moments such as breaching whales near Barbuda. This is a very special race with stunning scenery and always boats to race with, anywhere on the course – a lot of fun!”
IRC Two was won by Scarlet Oyster; the sixth class win for the Oyster 48 and the seventh for the Oyster 48's skipper Ross Applebey (GBR). Pamala Baldwin’s J/122 Liquid (ANT), skippered by Jules White was runner-up in both IRC Two and CSA Two. Global Yacht Racing’s First 47.7 EH01 (GBR), skippered by Andy Middleton, was third in IRC Two.
“That was easily the toughest race I have done both mentally and physically, there was so may twist and turns,” commented Ross Applebey. “The close racing with young friend Jules (White), and of course Andy (Middleton) with EH01 saw us stick together with a bungee for half the race. When you get parked up you have to regroup and come back, and our crew just kept working - they were incredible. It was a real war of attrition the whole way around. You invest so much into this race, to try and do the best you can, and this year it was very close.”
IRC Three has been won by Peter McWhinnie’s JPK 10.80 In Theory (USA). Richard Oswald’s Emily of Cowes, skippered by Katy Campbell (CAN) was second, Yoyo Gerssen’s Ohlson 35 Cabbyl Vane was determined to finish the race and after almost exactly five days, crossed the line to take third. IRC Two Handed was won by Richard Palmer’s JPK 10.10 Jangada (GBR), adding to their overall win in the RORC Transatlantic Race. Last year’s winner, Jeremi Jablonski’s Hanse 430 Avanti (USA) was second.
Peter McWhinnie’s team is mainly from the Larchmont YC situated on Larchmont Harbor in Westchester County, New York:
“The team are very experienced and in Long Island Sound we have learnt a few tricks on how to keep going in light airs,” commented Peter McWhinnie. “The biggest gain during the race was in the lee of St.Kitts. We kept going and stretched out six miles on our class. If the wind had not dropped off on Thursday, we would have had a real chance of winning the race overall. The team is all Corinthian and we are really happy with our performance.”
The Class40 Division was won by BHB, sailed by Arthur Hubert (FRA). Morgane Ursault Poupon’s UP Sailing (FRA) was runner-up. Arnt Bruhns’ Iskareen (GER) completed the podium.
“Our boat is designed for really strong wind, so it was a bit tricky for us, but we really enjoyed the race - fighting with other boats,” commented Arthur Hubert. “BHB is really powerful reaching but we knew UP Sailing would be faster in the light. So the overall strategy was to keep close to them in the light and attack when the wind was stronger. Up Sailing is also from St. Malo so we are friends but there was no talking between us when we were racing. This race is really good for getting data to develop the boat because we sail at many wind angles and wind speeds. BHB has come second twice, so to win was very satisfying.”
The last boat to finish the race, Cabbyl Vane, arrived the morning after the prize giving. The 1974 Ohlson 35 has been beautifully restored and optimised for offshore sailing. Last year the Dutch brothers, Yoyo and Jan Gerssen raced Two Handed but retired, exhausted in the tough conditions. This year they were joined by Sam Frampton and Gertjan Andel. A huge gathering at the Antigua Yacht Club cheered their arrival.
“This means so much to us,” smiled Yoyo Gerssen. “We were determined to finish the race and that is down to the crew and a great boat. Racing 600 miles in Cabbyl Vane is a long way but she was solid and so were the team. It was never in doubt that we would finish and Jan will make his flight back to Holland today! It means so much to me and my brother, a big thanks to him, to Sam and Gertjan, and of course to the RORC for the 600 – it is a wonderful experience.”
"Safety is the primary concern of the Royal Ocean Racing Club and the RORC Race Team monitor all of the boats throughout the race,” commented RORC Racing Manager, Chris Stone. “The RORC recognise the time and effort put in by all of the teams in the RORC Caribbean 600 and look forward to welcoming them all to race with the Club again in the future. Also, a big thank you to the huge number of volunteers who help with every aspect of the race finish here in Antigua."
Representing Antigua & Barbuda at the Prize Giving were: His Excellency The Governor General Sir Rodney Williams, The Hon Charles Fernandez Minister for Tourism and Mr. Walter Christopher, Permanent Secretary to the Ministry and Tourism and Ms Shirlene Nibbs, Consultant to the Ministry of Tourism.
Go to the RORC Photo Gallery for all the images of the race:
After three nights and four days of competition out on the 600nm race course, the first boats have arrived back on the docks in Antigua. Interviews with some of the early arrivals, including Multihull and Monohull Line Honours winners, and provisional class champions in the 12th edition of the RORC Caribbean 600.
Day Four am Report 27 February
For the second year in a row, David and Peter Askew’s Volvo 70 Wizard (USA) has taken Monohull Line Honours in the RORC Caribbean 600. Adrian Keller’s Nigel Irens-designed catamaran Allegra (SUI) is the provisional winner of the MOCRA Class. Tilmar Hansen’s German TP52 Outsider has finished the race and is currently the overall leader under IRC for the RORC Caribbean 600 Trophy.
Day two am report 25th February
After a sublime start and a reach up to Barbuda in beautiful conditions, the majority of the fleet experienced the first trap of the course. Just before sunset on the first day, the wind shadow of Barbuda enveloped the armada. The halt in progress was short-lived and looking on the bright side, Barbuda is a stunning spot to pause to watch the sun go down. After rounding the Barbuda mark, the fleet were back in the breeze heading west on a starboard gybe. Choosing when to gybe south to round Nevis would have been the main strategic call. Tactically, with the boats super-compressed, night fighting for wind and position would have taken on guerrilla tactic proportions.
Argo, PowerPlay, Maserati and Ultim’ Emotion 2 are having a fascinating battle at the front of the multihull class. Jason Carroll’s Argo (USA) and Peter Cunningham’s PowerPlay (CAY) pulled away from Maserati Multi70 (ITA) at Barbuda. Giovanni Soldini’s trimaran stalled in the wind shadow for longer and then proceeded to take a route north of the rhumb line, losing out 20 miles. Maserati fought back, passing Antoine Rabestem’s Ultim’Emotion 2 (FRA) before Nevis. As Argo and PowerPlay stalled in the lee of Saint Kitts, Maserati found superb boat speed to catch up with the leaders. PowerPlay was the first of the trio to escape the trap, blasting out at well over 20 knots of boat speed. However, Powerplay stalled at Saba and was reeled in by Argo, with Maserati just astern. Ultim’Emotion 2, sailed by Petro Jonker and Rick Warner is still in touch with the leaders. The 80ft Ultim was a late entry with a new team that will be ‘revving the engines’ for bigger breeze to come. The winner of the class will be decided by MOCRA time correction - Adrian Keller’s 80ft Catamaran Allegra (SUI) is estimated to be in pole position.
At 1030 GMT on the second day, Tilmar Hansen’s TP52 Outsider (GER) is estimated to be leading the class after IRC time correction. Eric de Turckheim’s NMD54 Teasing Machine (FRA) is second. Mills 68 Prospector (USA), owned by Shelter Island Transatlantic Partners (Landry/Roesch/Siwicki) and skippered by Tery Glackin leads the class on the water, and is third in class. Prospector has put in a stunning performance early in the race, but Outsider made a winning move by going well offshore in the lee of St. Kitts, taking the class lead on the approach to Saba. Teasing Machine look to have picked up a good shift just before rounding Nevis to move up the rankings.
After rounding the Barbuda mark, Philippe Frantz’s NMD 43 Albator (FRA) was the first to gybe south and looked to pick a perfect line to stay in the breeze and gybed west to round Nevis to perfection, leading the class on the water. Giles Redpath’s Lombard 46 Pata Negra (GBR) is estimated to be leading the class after IRC time correction and is less than a mile behind Albator. Bernie Evan-Wong’s RP37 Taz (ANT) had a busy night, putting in numerous gybes on the approach to Nevis; the work-out moves the Antiguan team up to third in class.
The Farr 58 Maiden skippered by Liz Wardley is competing in its first offshore race since her refit and since coming second in the 1989 Whitbread Round the world race. “The race is going well. We made good gains last night in the lee of Barbuda and then held our own in light downwind to Nevis. We are currently sailing past the gap towards St Kitt where we can see boats are once again becalmed... another transition zone to navigate through! The sun is just coming up, which is a welcome sight as it’s been a long busy night, but all is great on the mighty Maiden,” commented Liz Wardley on The Maiden Project’s blog.
First 40 Optimus Prime, skippered by Dmitry Kondratyev (RUS) sailed fast and smart to lead the class at Barbuda. Global Yacht Racing’s Grand Soleil 43 Jua Kali (GBR), skippered by Gareth Glover, put in an early gybe after Barbuda which paid off in spades. Pamala Baldwin’s J/122 Liquid (ANT) was the first to reach Nevis, followed by Jua Kali and their sistership, Global Yacht Racing’s British First 44.7 EH01, skippered by Andy Middleton. EH01 rounded Nevis one minute ahead of Ross Applebey’s Scarlet Oyster. After rounding Nevis, Liquid made good speed by using the acceleration around the island but then footed off west to avoid the wind shadow. Liquid surged into the lead both on the water and after IRC time correction.
Pip Hare racing on David Hall’s Grand Soleil 43 Panther commented: “Tough conditions for us up to Barbuda. We struggle against the lighter boats but the Code Zero has been a good friend. We’re all looking forward to rounding Nevis when we can officially say we got further than last time!” Panther rounded Nevis just before dawn this morning. Pip was referring to their retirement from the windy 2018 race with a torn mainsail. Panther have unfinished business and the crew are determined to finish the race.
Jonty & Vicki Layfield’s Swan 48 Sleeper (ANT) was first in class to round the Barbuda mark just after sunset on the first day. Richard Palmer’s JPK 10.10 Jangada (GBR), racing Two Handed with Jeremy Waitt were well in tune with the shifts and the lightweight boat, the smallest in the race, was first in class to round Nevis. Jangada went offshore out of the lee of Nevis looking for breeze and they found it. First 40.7 Escapado, skippered by Stuart Dahlgreen (CAN) and Peter McWhinnie’s JPK 10.80 In theory also went offshore after Nevis. Seven miles behind the leaders Yoyo Gerssen’s Ohlsonn 35 Cabbyl Vane (NED) is estimated to be leading the class.
The light conditions are favouring the smaller yachts for the overall lead under IRC. Richard Stain’s Sovereign 40 Laura is a prime example: “Home built in Cheshire, Laura finds herself in 11th IRC overall. How did that happen?” commented Richard via the race WhatsApp.
Arnt Bruhns’ Iskareen (GER) got a great start to the race opening up a big lead at Green Island. BHB, sailed by Arthur Hubert (FRA) passed Iskareen on the run. However, both Iskareen and BHB stalled in the wind shadow of Barbuda to watch their lead evaporate. Morgane Ursault Poupon, racing UP sailing (FRA) had a great turn of speed after Barbuda and made a stunning gybe south to snatch the lead all the way to Nevis. UP Sailing is giving away 10 years of design and development advantage to the competition, but racing superbly well.
Watch the full start sequence (50 minutes) for all four starts in the 2020 RORC Caribbean 600. Filmed live from the start line at Fort Charlotte outside English Harbour with commentary from RORC CEO Eddie Warden Owen and Sevenstar Yacht Transport pro-sailor Wouter Verbraak.
RORC Caribbean 600 Preview video featuring: Peter Askew, USA (Wizard), Tilmar Hansen, GER (Outsider), Zoe Taylor, AUS (Grace O’Malley), Katy Campbell, CAN (Emily of Cowes), Morgane Ursault-Poupon, FRA (UP Sailing), Liz Wardley (AUS/PNG) (Maiden), Charlie Ogletree, USA (PowerPlay), Loïck Peyron, FRA (PowerPlay), Giovanni Soldini, ITA (Maserati), Franck Cammas, FRA (Argo), Christiaan Durrant, AT (Shockwave), Rick Warner, USA (Ultim’Emotion 2).
With 24 hours to go until the start of the Caribbean’s only offshore race, crews from all corners of the globe - representing 37 different nations - are using the last few hours to get in some training out on the water and to make final preparations before the start of this epic 600-miler.
This could be a small boat race!
Sevenstar Yacht Transport is the official Logistics Partner to the RORC Caribbean 600. Wouter Verbraak, Head of Sevenstar Racing Yacht Logistics and leading professional yachtsman, walks the course before the start of the 2020 RORC Caribbean 600 starting from Antigua on Monday 24th February.
“This year is going to be a very different race. The wind funnels and the big lees around the islands are going to be key,” commented Verbraak. “The last two editions have been very windy, but 2020 will be the opposite, with light winds at the start and pretty much throughout the whole race course. In these light wind conditions, the sailors will be looking to use the wind that funnels around the islands, and avoiding, where possible, the big lees. The islands are going to be big obstacles that will really keep the afterguard on their toes. The breeze should increase later in the race, so this could be a small boat race for the overall win,” concluded Verbraak.
An in-depth 30-minute video with Wouter goes into detail about the important strategic considerations.
Sailors from at least 37 nations will be competing in the RORC Caribbean 600 organised by the Royal Ocean Racing Club. The 12th edition of the spectacular race will start off Fort Charlotte, Antigua on Monday 24th February 2020. Over 70 teams, featuring close to 700 sailors are expected on the start line. The challenging 600-mile race, in tropical heat with ocean swell, is renowned for stunning vistas of the 11 Caribbean islands on the course.
With less than two weeks until the start of the 12th edition of the RORC Caribbean 600, boats and crew are beginning to arrive in Antigua. The marinas in Falmouth and English Harbour are starting to buzz with activity as sailors from all over the world arrive to prepare their yachts for the 600-mile race around 11 Caribbean islands. Around 70 teams will be taking part with well over 700 sailors competing.