The 14th edition of the RORC Caribbean 600 featured close completion right through the 70-boat fleet. Nearly 600 crew from 30 different countries raced the ‘600, which is now well established as the ‘must-do’ offshore race in the Caribbean.
The trade winds blew and the swell kicked up, giving teams the fantastic sailing conditions that are unique in the sailing world. Antigua is the spiritual home of the RORC Caribbean 600 and the yachting community once again delivered, welcoming every team at the finish with warm smiles and cold beer.
The overall winner of the 14th edition of the RORC Caribbean 600 was Roy P. Disney’s Volvo 70 Pyewacket 70 (USA). The Pyewacket 70 team were presented with the RORC Caribbean 600 Trophy at the Prize Giving on Friday 24th February. They join an impressive list of overall winners from the United States; Warrior Won, Wizard, Rambler 88, Bella Mente, Shockwave, Proteus, Privateer, and Rambler 100.
“Pyewacket 70 doesn’t go into these races necessarily thinking that a corrected time win is our goal, we go for Line Honours and potentially to set a new record. So, when a handicap win comes that is fantastic,” commented skipper Ben Mitchell. “This win is right up there with the biggest victories, and Pyewacket has had a lot of success with the programme. In recent years the RORC Caribbean 600 victory is right up there.”
Pyewacket 70 Crew: Ben Mitchell, Peter Isler, Tony Mutter, Brad Jackson, Brian Janney, Daryl Wislang, David Tank, Jan Majer, Mark Callahan, Matt Mialik, Robbie Kane, Rodney Daniel, Tristan Louwrens.
Pyewacket 70 was the winner of IRC Super Zero, second was Volvo 70 I Love Poland (POL) skippered by Grzegorz Baranowski. Third and the fastest VO65 was Wind Whisper skippered by Joca Signorini.
Overall winner of the 2023 RORC Caribbean 600 Pyewacket 70 (USA) © Tim Wright/Photoaction.com
Multihull Line Honours: Zoulou by 11 seconds
After over 30 hours of racing at speeds approaching 40 knots, MOD70 Zoulou (FRA) sailed by Erik Maris won Multihull Line Honours in the 2023 RORC Caribbean 600 by just 11 seconds. Giovanni Soldini’s Maserati Multi70 (ITA) endured the pain of coming second again in a photo-finish.
Zoulou Crew: Erik Maris, Ned Collier Wakefield, Thierry Fouchier, Loick Peyron, Bruno Jeanjean, Bruno Mourniac, Thomas Le Breton.
“That was an incredible race with such a close finish,” commented Zoulou’s Erik Maris. “We were ahead until midnight on the first day, but we lost Maserati when they were very fast on their foils going down to Guadeloupe. Maserati sailed really well on the second day but on the penultimate leg (Barbuda to Redonda) they lost themselves under a cloud. We came back together and the lead changed many times on the leg to Redonda. The last leg was really tough, but we managed to pass them on the one that counts. It was as close as it gets; an incredible finish and great fun.”
MOD70 Zoulou (FRA) sailed by Erik Maris won Multihull Line Honours © Tim Wright/Photoaction.com
Gunboat 68 Tosca (USA) skippered by Alex Thomson won the MOCRA Class after time correction. Giovanni Soldini’s Maserati Multi70 was second, with MOD70 Zoulou sailed by Erik Maris in third.
“Tosca is a perfect boat to do this race,” commented Alex Thomson. “You have the comfort of a superyacht and the speed of a Volvo 70. Tosca has a great crew and together we are really understanding how to improve the boat’s performance. We are really chuffed to win the MOCRA Class, it is a milestone for this boat.”
Gunboat 68 Tosca (USA) skippered by Alex Thomson won the MOCRA Class © Tim Wright/Photoaction.com
RORC Vice Commodore Eric de Turckheim racing NMD54 Teasing Machine (FRA) won the highly competitive IRC Zero Class. Second was Kate & Jim Murray’s Pac52 Callisto (USA) and third was Frederic Puzin’s Ker 46 Daguet – 3 Corum (FRA).
“This year we had a fantastic battle in IRC Zero with four highly competitive boats that Teasing Machine was in contact with all the time,” commented Eric de Turckheim. “We finished within 30 minutes of each other; that is exciting as well as the sailing itself. Callisto sailed really well and was always a threat. Further back, because they are 46ft was Daguet. In the last race they beat us, this year we beat them. So well done to Callisto and Daguet for making this class very hard to win.”
Teasing Machine Crew: Eric de Turckheim, Laurent Pages, Aymeric Chappellier, Alexandre de Girval, Bertrand Castelnerac, Christian Ponthieu, Gabriele Olivo, Jerome Teillet, Paco Lepoutre, Quentin Bouchacourt, Quentin Le Nabour, Tony Brochet.
Eric de Turckheim racing NMD54 Teasing Machine (FRA) won the highly competitive IRC Zero Class © Tim Wright/Photoaction.com
Dan Litchfield’s classic Hound (USA) put in a great last beat from Redonda to win IRC One. The Aage Nielsen 59 sloop was built in 1970, the oldest boat in the race. Laurent Courbin’s First 53 Yagiza (FRA) skippered by Phillippe Falle was second by just 24 minutes after IRC time correction. In third place was Andrew & Sam Hall’s Lombard 46 Pata Negra (GBR), just six minutes behind Yagiza after IRC time correction.
“We got pushed really hard by the other boats in our class, somehow we pulled it out at the end and it feels great,” commented Hound owner Dan Litchfield. “It was only when we were rounding Redonda that we thought the win was possibly for real. The Hound crew is the best I have ever sailed with and the RORC Caribbean 600 is our big race of the season. Hound will be heading back to Newport Rhode Island and I know our two daughters will have missed cruising her, as we will do in the summer.”
Hound crew: Tom Stark, Adam Klyver, Chris Murray, Daniel Litchfield, David Rosow, Devin Santa, Edward Cesare, Glenn Cook, Jason Black, Lyndsey Gibbons-Neff, Nicholas Horbaczewski, Owen Johnson, Peter McGrath, Rich du Moulin, Sumner Fisher, Taylor North.
Dan Litchfield’s Aage Nielsen 59 Hound (USA) won IRC One © Tim Wright/Photoaction.com
Peter McWhinnie’s JPK 1080 In Theory (USA) has won IRC Two by just under two hours from J/133 Vamoose (USA), skippered by Bob Manchester. Andy Middleton’s First 47.7 EH01 (GBR) was third.
“It feels fantastic. It has been great to get around the course with a wonderful crew. I can’t thank them enough,” commented In Theory’s Peter McWhinnie. “It was a relief to get through the last beat as the wind got a little fluky, but we made it to the finish and that was a very happy moment. One of the highlights of this race has been the close competition from other boats. We were always mixing it up with Vamoose, J Bella and EH01. There were a lot of great moments and a lot of hard sailing; it was pretty full on.”
In Theory Crew: Peter McWhinnie, Com Crocker, Erin Sprague, John Slattery, Peter Fackler, Simon Karstoft Jensen.
Peter McWhinnie’s JPK 1080 In Theory (USA) were victorious in IRC Two © Tim Wright/Photoaction.com
Verdier 54 Notre Mediterranee - Ville de Nice (FRA) sailed by Fabien Biron & Pim Nieuwenhuis romped home in the double-handed class completing the course in an elapsed time of 02 days 17 hrs 15 mins 15 secs and taking the win after IRC time correction. Markus Moser’s Pegasus 50 Lifgun (SUI) racing with Marco Pas was runner up. Szymon Kuczynski’s Figaro 1 Hultaj (POL) racing with Anna Jastrz?bska was third.
Two-Handed winners - Verdier 54 Notre Mediterranee - Ville de Nice (FRA) sailed by Fabien Biron & Pim Nieuwenhuis © Tim Wright/Photoaction.com
With all of the fleet finished, RORC Racing Manager Steve Cole commented: “As always, the RORC’s primary concern for any race is safety, and we have special regulations in place to mitigate the risks of offshore racing. All the boats are accounted for and we hope that everyone has thoroughly enjoyed the race. The RORC Race Team supported by Antigua Yacht Club, with the invaluable help of the army of local volunteers have produced a well-organised event here in Antigua. I am sure that I speak for all of the competitors in thanking them for their commitment and hard work, and we look forward to welcoming everyone back for the fifteenth edition in 2024.”
The 2024 RORC Caribbean 600 will be the fifteenth edition and will start from Fort Charlotte Antigua on 19th February. The 600-mile offshore race is the centrepiece for the RORC Nelson’s Cup Series which is a new six-race regatta in Antigua.