The Royal Ocean Racing Club’s 15th edition of the RORC Caribbean 600 will start on February 19th, 2024
Since the first edition in 2009, the race around 11 Caribbean islands, starting and finishing in Antigua, has evolved into one of the world’s most famous 600-mile races. The 15th anniversary edition has already attracted 40 teams from around the world.
The 2024 RORC Nelson’s Cup Series starts on February 13th. The new fixture was introduced last year and gives teams the opportunity of racing in all or part of a series of six races, including the Antigua 360, round the island race.
The expressions of interest and official entry list includes boats of all shapes and sizes with professional and amateur crew from six continents. The overall winner lifts the RORC Caribbean 600 Trophy, having scored the best corrected time under the IRC Rating System. The Multihull Class battle is for their Line Honours Trophy and the corrected time win under MOCRA. Competition in IRC classes is as fierce as the level rating Class40 Division.
Niklas Zennstrom’s Rán Racing Team will be competing for the third time, having won overall in 2012 with the Maxi 72 Rán. Zennstrom is returning for the second year in a row with his CF 520 Rán (SWE), which will also defend their overall win in the inaugural RORC Nelson’s Cup Series. Niklas Zennstrom and Rán Racing are big fans of the RORC Nelson’s Cup Series, as Rán’s Tim Powell explains:
“Rán has been blessed with success over the years and we have very high standards. Preparation is a key area and the RORC Nelson’s Cup gives us the opportunity to get the boat, and the team, up to top speed in the racing environment. Training is essential but it cannot substitute racing, that is where the pressure is on. Coming from Europe it is great that we can compete in a series of races rather than just the offshore RORC Caribbean 600.”
Tim Powell has competed in just about every 600-mile race around the world on multiple occasions. Rán Racing has won back-to-back Rolex Fastnet Races, the RORC Caribbean 600, the TP52 World Championship, and the Rolex Maxi Yacht Cup.
“Right here, right now, just in class, the boats that Rán is up against are really competitive and the diversity of the competition means that we will all have strengths at different areas of the course. Personally I have done six races and what sets the RORC Caribbean 600 apart is the consistency of wind. You know it’s going to be good breeze, winter sun and great sailing, you can’t beat it really. The scenery is amazing but it is a pretty hard core race; there is a lot going on all the time. Apart from the long leg to Guadeloupe, you are going around islands involving sail changes and multiple crew manoeuvres. It’s a non-stop race which pushes you hard.”
The Classic Nielsen 59 Hound (USA) has competed in six editions of the RORC Caribbean 600. Tom Stark became the guardian of Hound for a 2023 campaign and the team, including Ed Cesar and Richard du Moulin completed the course in a record time for Hound of 3 days and 6 hours, winning IRC One for the first time. The Aage Nielsen 59 sloop was built in 1970 and was the oldest boat in the last year’s race. Hound is normally used by the Stark family for cruising on the Eastern Seaboard of the United States.
“We knew it would be a fight to the finish, it was a lot of hard work with an amazing team,” commented Tom Stark, dockside after the 2023 RORC Caribbean 600. “When we rounded Redonda it was amazing but we sailed into a hole; the sails were flapping, then it picked up again and we were back in business. We had a finish time in our mind that we were pushing onto (to win IRC One on corrected time) and we were trying so hard to stay with the competition. It was touch and go at the end and super-exciting! Coming ashore to people waiting with beer was unbelievable, we had a great welcome which capped off an awesome race, it was very special; a big win for us.”
Class40s have been part of the RORC Caribbean 600 family since the very first race. The course, twisting and turning through 11 Caribbean islands is a true work-out for a Class40. Right now 40 Class40s are racing across the Atlantic in the 2023 Transat Jacques Vabre, many of which will be racing in the 2024 RORC Caribbean 600, which is part of the Class40 Championship.
In previous editions, the Class40 division of the RORC Caribbean 600 has been dominated by French teams, but two Italian boats came to the fore last year. Albi Bona’s IBSA (ITA) held off a strong challenge from Ambrogio Beccaria’s Alla Grande – Pirelli (ITA) to win the 13-strong Class40 division by one mile after 61 hours of racing.
“This was my first time so I didn’t know what to expect, but it was incredible,” commented IBSA’s Albi Bona dockside after winning the 2023 edition. “This race can be very tough for a Class40 as the legs of the course are small; it is quite intense racing but I had a great team on board and we worked very well together. We enjoyed the race very much and I want to thank the regatta team that puts on this super event.”
RORC Racing Manager Steve Cole confirms that preparations are well under way to deliver a memorable 15th edition of the RORC Caribbean 600:
“The RORC Race Team, assisted by the Antigua Yacht Club and our invaluable volunteers are looking forward to providing a well-managed and enjoyable regatta, with great racing and plenty of parties,” commented Steve Cole. “Teams wishing to enter the 15th edition of the RORC Caribbean 600 can enter on-line at SailRaceHQ. The RORC Nelson’s Cup Series is included in the entry fee for the 600-mile race. However, teams that wish to compete in part of the series, but not the Caribbean 600, can do so. The fee per day is £140 and includes daily prize givings. Competitors in the RORC Nelson’s Cup Series are also invited to the Official RORC Caribbean 600 Welcome Party, which will also host the Antigua 360 Prize Giving.”
lead image: Arthur Daniel/RORC