Incident free start
Clear blue skies and crystal clear oceans typify the Caribbean and the competitors in the RORC Caribbean 600 were treated to some superb champagne sailing conditions, as they started the only offshore race in these waters. There wasn’t a foul weather jacket in sight as the fleet sailed upwind into a warm easterly breeze of 12-15 knots at the start.
Crowds gathered on Shirley Heights and Fort Charlotte to witness the start of the RORC Caribbean 600.
The first boats crossed the start line for the 605 mile race at 12:30 local time, setting out on a course that will take them around 14 Caribbean islands.
The RORC Racing Manager, Ian Loffhagen got all classes away without incident and the big boat start was extremely competitive with several boats timing their approach close to perfection.
In the first start for the smaller boats, Marck Glimcher’s J/122 Catapult lived up to its name with the American boat nailing the line with great pace. Local Antigua boat and current class champion, Café Americano High Tension, skippered by Bernie Evan-Wong made a conservative start, but this is a marathon not a sprint and several days of tactical snakes and ladders are expected for the smaller boats.
The second start saw a line up of expensive hi-tech racing machines hit the line in unison. American Cookson 50 Privateer, skippered by Ron O’Hanley, was the first across the line to leeward, looking for more breeze under the Pillars of Hercules. She was soon overtaken by much larger yachts and Danilo Salsi’s Italian Swan 90 DSK Pioneer and Karl Kwok’s line honours favourite, the Farr 80 Beau Geste from Hong Kong were soon stretching their legs and overtaking the fleet that started 10 minutes earlier.
Last away was John Burnie’s and Claude Thelier’s ORMA 60 trimaran Region Guadeloupe accelerating off the line on port tack. John Bernie’s aim is to beat the record he set last year and they are most likely to be the first boat home.
Currently Beau Geste leads the fleet on the water and is 27 miles from the North Sails Mark at Barbuda and only 200 metres ahead of Region Guadeloupe.
Prior to the start Karl Kwok commented: “It has been a long time coming.’ Said Karl Kwok, skipper of Beau Geste. “I was going to come to sail in Antigua 11 years ago but had to miss out. I have been looking forward to this race for some time and as a RORC member, I am very happy to support this race and my club.”
All of the boats are fitted with RORC OC trackers to allow spectators to follow their progress here.