More whoppers for the Caribbean 600

The latest from the RORC's fast growing jaunt in the sun

Thursday January 21st 2010, Author: Louay Habib, Location: United Kingdom
With only weeks to go to the second edition of the RORC Caribbean 600, a highly competitive international fleet are assembling to take part in this ocean racing spectacular.

"We already have 11 nations represented," commented RORC Chief Executive, Eddie Warden Owen about the entries so far. "Antigua, Canada, France, Great Britain, Hong Kong, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, South Africa and the United States. The inaugural race in 2009 created quite a stir in the ocean racing world and the entry list shows a number of new competitors in a diverse fleet."

Two high performance Maxis are top contenders for line honours and mounting a strong challenge for ICAP Leopard’s mono-hull record. The US Merchant Marine Academy's Genuine Risk designed by Ed Dubois is a 98ft canting keel speed machine based in Baltimore, USA but Karl Kwok’s, Beau Geste will also be a strong contender. The Hong Kong-based boat is fresh from winning the Transatlantic Maxi Yacht Cup, in a new race record of just over 9 days, the Farr 80 skippered by Gavin Brady has great pace off the wind.

"Ever since we first heard about the RORC Caribbean 600 it has been in our plans to compete," said Karl Kwok. "The Caribbean is the perfect playground for sailing with its warm water and guaranteed trade winds. We are looking forward to pushing Beau Geste to the limit around this excellent course and enjoying the performance that the boat will achieve and was designed for."

From Italy, the stunning Swan 90, DSK Pioneer is back to defend their class title and will be pushing hard. Owner, Danilo Salsi has done a lot of miles since the last race and against top opposition. The highly experienced Italian team should have a close battle on the water with two other magnificent yachts, Peter Harrison’s 114ft ketch, Sojana and Alexis Howard’s 148ft classic schooner, Windrose of Amsterdam.

Only time will decide the overall winner of the 2010 RORC Caribbean 600 and more entries are expected over the next few weeks but Adrian Lee’s Cookson 50, Lee Overlay Partners currently holds the magnificent trophy and he is not about to let it go without a fight.

Lee Overlay Partners is joined in this year’s race by another Cookson 50; Ron O’Hanley’s Boston-based Privateer. The two boats have had phenomenal success in recent years and are bound to go toe to toe on the water. However the race for an overall win is wide open; the high calibre fleet includes Richard Oland’s Southern Cross 52, Vela Veloce which recently lost out to Privateer by less than a minute in the Fort Lauderdale to Key West race . Jim Grundy’s Tripp 75 Bella Pita is a real threat and certainly not just making up the numbers. Despite being fully fitted out, the carbon fibre water ballast boat will fully enjoy the downwind conditions.

Heading the multihull division is John Bernie’s 60ft trimaran, Region Guadeloupe (ex Primagaz). John is one of the founders of the race and is delighted by the interest in the race from the USA. "I am pleased to see new boats from North America taking an interest in the race” he said. "It is a great race course and will suit a wide variety of boats and is sure to grow in future years."

Sir Geoffrey Mulcahy’s Noonmark VI has been racing all over the world, including the Rolex Sydney Hobart and Rolex Fastnet race. Sir Geoffrey is a long standing RORC member and Noonmark VI, a Frers-designed Swan 56, is one of many performance cruiser racers that will be racing around the 14 Caribbean islands in February.

Ondeck Yacht Charters have sold nearly all their places on board four Farr 65s, including one yacht crewed by Lloyds Yacht Club. Close to a hundred crew will enjoy a great private battle on the water and a huge party afterwards. Ondeck have also chartered a Beneteau 40.7 to Henrik Torgersen from Norway, adding a Scandinavian flavour to the race.

Another potential match race involves the high performance ocean racing Class 40s. Round the world veterans; Josh Hall and Miranda Merron lock horns on opposite sides of the guard rail. Josh has chartered a South African Class 40, Ocean Warrior while Merron will be on 40 Degrees, chartered by two highly successful RORC members, Michael Boyd and Niall Dowling.

For the smaller yachts in the fleet, the Caribbean 600 is no less a test. Antiguan local, Bernie Evan Wong’s Mumm 36, Café Americana is back. He will defend his class win, even after suffering a rib injury in the first race, the Antiguan dentist is chomping at the bit. "Last year was one of the all time highlights of my sailing career," he said. "Almost a year later, I still have flashes of great moments in the race; surfing down waves for hours on end is really hard to beat! The 2010 RORC Caribbean 600 is shaping up to be much bigger and better with a number of the world’s top race boats entering."

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