Dockside at the Antigua Yacht Club the pontoons are buzzing. The who's who of yachting has gathered for the 7th edition of the RORC Caribbean 600, including winners of the America's Cup, Volvo Ocean Race, Vendée Globe and Jules Verne Trophy. However this elite group of sailors only make up a small proportion of the 700-plus avid sailors taking part in the race. Eight young sailors from Guadeloupe will be racing in Figaro IIs. The rookies of the CSA Class would love to get their hands on the RORC Caribbean 600 Trophy and for one brief moment, they did, just for the cameras. Among those racing for Guadeloupe Grand Large across the four Figaro IIs will be Alienor Fleury, Simon Lefort, Leo Bottiglia, Danial Sentance, Andy Anicet, Tom Saliot, Bernard Joan and Daryl Garcon.
“We can dare to dream,” commented Alienor Fleury. “We are young, ambitious and full of passion for this race. When we heard that Michel Desjoyeaux was racing, it was just a fantastic feeling. We hope to meet with him at some stage and ask him about his sailing. For young sailors from Guadeloupe, meeting one of our heroes is like winning the race. For the RORC Caribbean 600, we will be racing each other in the CSA Class and we hope to have battles with other yachts on the course as well. The RORC Caribbean is the highlight of our season and a great opportunity to show that Guadeloupe has talent.”
Racing on Peter Schofield’s British HOD 35, Zarafa, will be a group of five young servicemen from the King’s Royal Hussars and Queen’s Royal Lancers. While Captains Charles Gray and Henry Foster competed on the army entry to the RORC Caribbean 600 in 2014, their soldiers have not sailed before, let alone raced 600nm. The learning curve will be steep but soldiers will be encouraged by an experienced skipper in Lymington based Major Peter Schofield, an ex-Royal Hussar and long-term supporter of army sailing.
'The qualities demanded by the army of listening, learning and executing orders translate well onboard and the young crew should be quick to learn the ropes. They can take heart from Zarafa’s performance at the Valentine’s Regatta in Jolly Harbour, raced by a similarly inexperienced crew drawn from the King’s Royal Hussars, who went on to win the regatta', commented Peter Schofield.
Zarafa's crew for the RORC Caribbean 600 will be Skipper Peter Schofield (Maj), Henry Foster (KRH Officer), Nicholas Bird (Army Air Corps Officer), Jake Sloan (KRH Soldier), Thomas Kirkby (QRL Soldier), Charles Grey (QRL Officer), Malcolm Hawkswood and Steve Davis.