The Royal Ocean Racing Club is all set for the 15th edition of the RORC Caribbean 600, organised in association with the Antigua Yacht Club. Close to 65 teams are expected to be competing with 500 sailors from 26 different countries racing in a huge diversity of boats.
Racing action starts with inshore courses for the RORC Nelson’s Cup Series on 13th February. At least 24 teams are expected to be racing in the series, which includes the Antigua 360 ‘Round Antigua’ race.
The 600-mile offshore race, the RORC Caribbean 600, starts on 19th February. The overall winner is decided by the best corrected time under the IRC Rating Rule. Special prizes are awarded to Multihull and Monohull Line Honours, as well as the Class40 Division.
Multihull Line Honours
Three MOD70s are set for a line honours battle; Erik Maris racing Zoulou (FRA) is defending their win by 21 seconds last year. Jason Carroll’s Argo (USA) took line honours in 2022, setting the Multihull Race Record of 29 Hours 48 Mins 45 Secs. Alexia Barrier’s MOD70 Limosa – The Famous Project (FRA) is the first MOD70 to enter the race with a majority female crew, including co-skipper Dee Caffari. With C-Foils and T-Rudders, Zoulou and Argo have a speed edge on Limosa in decent breeze. However, the RORC Caribbean 600 course has many twists and turns which may suit Limosa in original MOD70 configuration with less drag.
Monohull Line Honours
Three high performance Maxis are in contention for Monohull Line Honours and the overall win under IRC. Farr 100 Leopard 3 (MON), skippered by Chris Sherlock set the original Monohull Line Honours Race Record in 2009. Now under new ownership, Leopard 3 has had a major rebuild shedding tons of weight and a new high-performance rig. In the last 4 months Leopard has won line honours in the Rolex Middle Sea Race and RORC Transatlantic Race. The Wally 107 Spirit of Malouen X (FRA) poses the biggest threat to Leopard 3. The longest boat in the race is crewed by the Paprec Sailing Team, managed by Skipper Stephane Neve for the last 25 years. The trio of boats over 100ft is completed by the 102ft Southern Wind Egiwave. The Italian Pro-Crew come from Porto Cervo, Sardinia under the leadership of Mauro Montefusco and Pierpaolo Mori. The Monohull Race Record was set in 2018 by George David’s Rambler 88 (USA) - 01 days 13 hrs 41 mins 45 secs.
MOCRA Multihull Class
While all three MOD70s will also be vying for the corrected time win under the MOCRA Rule, reigning champion, Adrian Keller’s Irens 84 Allegra (SUI) is favourite to retain the title. The largest multihull in the race weighs in at about 30 tons but is also capable of over 30 knots of boat speed! In total, nine multihulls will be racing for the MOCRA Class. The smallest is the TS42 Banzai, sailed by Belgian Vince Willemart. Guy Chester’s Crowther 46 catamaran Oceans Tribute (AUS) was sailed from New Zealand to Antigua virtually single-handed by Chester. Closer to home, Wooldridge & Davis’ Kelsall 47 trimaran Triple Jack (BVI) is a legendary Caribbean racer, rebuilt after it was badly damaged by Hurricane Irma in 2017. Yann Marilley Outremer 59 No Limit (FRA), Fabrice Cahierc’s Ocean Fifty Planet-R (FRA) will also be in the mix for a corrected time win in the MOCRA Class.
Class40s have been racing in the RORC Caribbean 600 since the first edition. This year 10 Class40s are expected, including eight launched in the last five years. The latest design is Stéphane Bodin’s 2023 Verdier Wasabiii. The latest Sam Manuard Mach 5 designs in the race are: LHOR One, owned by Cedric Chateau, with a crew including Rolex Fastnet winner Alexis Loison and rising French sailor Guillaume Pirouelle, and Alternative Sailing – Construction du Belon, with English Skipper Mathieu Jones. From the USA, Martin Roesch’s Mach 3 Velocity has an all-North American crew and the boat won the 2019 Race, skippered by Catherine Pourre. Alexandre Le Gallais’ TrimControl crew includes Carlo Vroon, son of Tonnerre de Breskens Dutch legend Piet Vroon. Twenty-five-year-old German, Lennart Burke is one of the youngest skippers in the class and will be racing the 2022 Verdier Sign for Com (GER).
RORC Vice Commodore Richard Palmer was all set for his debut race in Jangada 40 (GBR), a 2017 Verdier design. However, due to eye injury, Palmer will miss out and RORC Commodore Deb Fish will race her second RORC Caribbean 600. The Jangada 40 crew includes Rupert Holmes, winner of the 2022 Sevenstar Round Britain & Ireland, and Vendée Globe sailor Pip Hare, as well as the boat’s previous skipper Paul Brandel.
Overall Winner under IRC
The IRC Fleet for the RORC Caribbean 600 is extremely diverse. The overall winner after time correction will lift the RORC Caribbean 600 Trophy, but to win the prestigious silver trophy, any team must first win their IRC Class.
IRC Super Zero
As well as the 100ft-plus boats; Spirit of Malouen X/Paprec Sailing Team, Leopard 3, and Egiwave, IRC Super Zero has seven teams in total. Three entries are round the world racing yachts with pro-am crews. The Farr 70 Ocean Breeze (AUT), skippered by Johannes Schwarz was the first pro-am team in IRC to finish the 2024 RORC Transatlantic Race. Oliver Kobale and Gerwin Jansen, with a multinational pro-am crew will be racing the Farr designed VO65 Sisi (AUT). The Juan K designed Il Mostro (CAN) will be raced by the Atlas Ocean Racing Team from Montreal, Canada, led by Gilles Barbot. The smallest yacht in IRC Super Zero is the Marten 72 Aragon (NED) which includes round the world sailors Wouter Verbraak and Carolijn Brouwer amongst a top international crew. In the last 14 editions of the race, the overall winner has come from the IRC Super Zero Class.
While every boat racing under IRC has the chance of the overall win, race pundits consider two boats in IRC Zero to be among the favourites. Niklas Zennström’s 52ft (15.84m) Carkeek-designed CF520 Rán (SWE) is taking part in her second race, but technical problems have hampered the team in the last edition, and in the Rolex Fastnet Race. Team Rán won the race overall in Maxi 72 Rán in 2012. Rán team manager Tim Powell leads an all-star cast, including navigator Steve Hayles, trim lead Toby Iles and boat captain Tom Kiff. Team Rán always has young sailors on board racing with the experienced team.
Peter & David Askew’s Botin 52 Wizard (USA) will be skippered by the Ocean Race winning skipper Charlie Enright. The Askew Brothers raced their Volvo 70 Wizard to overall victory in 2019. The new Wizard was formerly Matt Allen’s Ichi Ban, a RORC Yacht of the Year and three-time winner of the Rolex Sydney Hobart. The Wizard crew are mainly from USA and includes two former race winners; Briton Simon Fisher, Canadian Richard Clarke and Australian Phil Harmer.
Three displacement boats in IRC Zero will be hoping for big upwind conditions; Jean-Pierre Dréau’s Mylius 60 Lady First 3, Mills 62 Leaps and Bounds 2, skippered by Luca Lanzillo, and Colin Buffin’s Swan 62 Uxorious IV (GBR).
IRC Zero has a highly competitive line-up, including Frederic Puzin’s Ker 46 Daguet 3 (FRA). This will be the third race for the top French team, who achieved third in class last year and fifth overall. Jon Desmond’s Mills 41 Final Final (USA) from the NYYC is also an expression of interest for the 2025 Admiral’s Cup. Former RORC Commodore 2021-2023, James Neville loves the RORC Caribbean 600 and has competed on numerous occasions. His Carkeek 45 Ino Noir (GBR) will be making its race debut.
Three well sailed JPK 1180s are set for a thrilling battle in IRC One; Richard Fromentin’s Cocody (FRA), Tom Kneen’s Rolex Fastnet winner Sunrise III (GBR), and Dawn Treader (GBR), skippered by Ed Bell. Cocody showed their mettle in the RORC Transatlantic Race with second overall and a class win after boldly taking the hard northern route. Dawn Treader is a young team that have been racing together for a few of seasons, including a team-building RORC Transatlantic Race. This is the second RORC Caribbean 600 for Dawn Treader and Sunrise III. In 2022, Sunrise III held off Dawn Treader by just 11 minutes after IRC time correction to win the class.
The biggest boat in IRC One is last year’s class winner; Tom Stark’s Nielsen 59 Hound (USA), co-skippered by Dan Litchfield. The classic Hound is 51 years old and has been lovingly restored for cruising the Eastern Seaboard of USA with Stark family and friends. The RORC Caribbean 600 is where the Hound gets let off the leash! Navigator Richard du Moulin has been in four America’s Cup campaigns and multiple offshore races all over the world, including 26 Newport Bermuda and five Rolex Fastnet Races. The smallest boat in the race is Nathalie Criou’s Figaro 2 Envolee, co-skippered by Berenice Charrez. The Swiss Bioengineering scientist is on a mission to merge extreme sports, notably offshore sailing, with scientific exploration.
For the lowest IRC rated boats in the RORC Caribbean 600, the race is a real marathon just to finish before the big party at the Grand Prize Giving, but make no mistake, IRC Two produces a very competitive competition, especially after IRC time correction, and is often the class where new sailors learn the art of offshore sailing from experienced competitors.
Well sailed boats in IRC Two include last year’s class winner Peter McWhinnie’s JPK 1080 In Theory (USA), representing the Larchmont Yacht Club and Storm Trysail Club. In Theory also won IRC Three in 2020. Gavin Howe’s Sun Fast 3600 Tigris (GBR) won IRC Two- Handed in the 2024 RORC Transatlantic Race with co-skipper Maggie Adamson. For the RORC Caribbean 600, Tigris will be four-up with Sam Cooper and Timothée Villain-Amirat joining the crew.
Bernie Evan-Wong’s Lapworth 39 Huey Too (ANT) is a legendary boat in the Caribbean. Skipper Bernie has competed in every edition of the RORC Caribbean 600. Huey Too’s crew includes the youngest sailor in the race; Carrack Jones who was born the year that Bernie did the first race! Fourteen-year-old Carrack has attended the last two 0ptimist Worlds and North Americans representing Antigua & Barbuda, and last year sailed his Opi 100nm from Antigua to St Martin.
Charles MacDonald’s Samoa 47 Argonaut (RSA) carries the biggest IRC Two rating and is representing the Royal Cape Yacht Club. The family-owned South African-built boat has spent most of its life racing in and around Cape Town, including five Cape2Rio races over the past three decades. Argonaut’s crew for the RORC Caribbean 600 includes members of the Royal Channel Islands Yacht Club, Guernsey, UK. The smallest boat in IRC Two is Enrico Calvi’s Dufour 34 Duffy (ITA). The Lega Navale Italiana team come from Naples and have competed in nine Rolex Middle Sea Races and one Rolex Fastnet Race. The largest boat in IRC Two is Joel Aronson’s S&S 49 Rule One (USA) from the Royal Hamilton Amateur Dinghy Club, Bermuda.
Teams in the RORC Caribbean 600 will be sending back pictures and video to a Live Blog on the official website. RORC social media pages includes Instagram and Facebook. All of the boats are fitted with YB Trackers with regular position reports and more data available from the official minisite. The RORC Caribbean 600 is part of the RORC Season’s Points Championship, the world’s largest offshore racing series