Hetairos powers through
At 1500 local time, the 214ft superyacht Hetairos moved into poll position in the RORC Caribbean 600. Passing to leeward of George David's 90ft maxi Rambler off the east coast of Montserrat. Hetairos let loose on a broad reach, blasting through the Caribbean surf at a speed in excess of 22 knots. The giant yacht has twice the water line length and more than double the sail area of Rambler, but Rambler, with RORC Chief Executive Eddie Warden Owen on board, is not giving up without a fight. The American maxi has put up every sail they can to "send it" and Hetairos are finding it difficult to shake them off.
Hetairos and Rambler will probably make the northwest corner of Guadeloupe well before dark and they are expected to finish the race tomorrow morning. However they are both unlikely to finish the race by Wednesday 0340 to break the course record set by Rambler 100 last year.
Rambler's navigator, Peter Isler reported: "Hi from the weather rail of Rambler. We've been watching a sail on the horizon creep up on us over the past five hours - we are on the race's longest (145 mile) leg and it's a fast jib reach. The boat coming up from behind is of course Hetairos, the giant ketch. This is a leg perfectly suited to her strength; straight line reaching speed. It's only a matter of a few hours and she'll be past us unless things get tricky, which appears unlikely until our next turning mark Guadeloupe, one of the trickiest parts of this race track, as we sail below (downwind) of the biggest and tallest island on the course. Last year on Rambler100 we drifted for a few hours in Guadeloupe's wind shadow and that sort of tricky sailing might give us a chance to make some gains on Hetairos... time will tell."
Isler continues: "Beautiful sailing on deck, T-shirt, shorts and everyone but the helmsman grinders and trimmers hiking out. Lots of flying fish going aerial to get away from our bow wave. It's plenty hot down below though; as most hatches are shut to keep spray from coming in. We just enjoyed our first freeze-dried meal, beef stew that was popular amongst the crew. The watch system is being strictly adhered to now; no sail changes in the last few hours so hopefully everyone will be charged up for the battle under Guadeloupe and the rest of the race. We've seen much shiftier and lighter winds than last year when the Rambler100 set the monohull course record that record is definitely secure until 2013 at the earliest."
Niklas Zennström's JV72 Rán is the new handicap leader on time correction. However, Rán is likely to arrive on the northwest corner of Guadeloupe after dark and experience a significant wind shadow. Second overall is Amanda Hartley's Swan 56 Clem, which was rounding St Martin at the top of the course at 1500 local time. Third overall is Scarlet Oyster, which is in good breeze south of St Martin. The weather forecast for the next 48 hours shows a significant increase in wind strength, freshening to over 20 knots. This may well favour Scarlet Oyster and Clem, but both yachts are heavy displacement and are unlikely to plain. Jaime Torres' First 40.7, Smile and Wave is lying fourth overall and lining up for a wild sleigh ride tomorrow. As the Puerto Rican team come off the breeze and turn south for what promises to be a ballistic 150 mile surf to Guadeloupe.
Jonty and Jack Layfield are racing doublehanded on their J/39 Sleeper. The father and son team were approaching the Anguilla Strait at the top of the course at 1600 local time today. No doubt the Layfields will be looking forward to a long reaching leg and possibly the first real rest they will have had since starting the race nearly a day and half ago. Perhaps Sleeper will be a very apt description of what her crew will be looking forward to the most.
The RORC Caribbean 600 has two magnificent schooners racing: Adela and Windrose of Amsterdam have barely been apart since the start of the race. Hugh Agnew, Adela's navigator called in by satellite phone as the two Spirit of Tradition yachts rounded Tintamarre. Adela was on a tight reach, all 300 tons of her doing 13 knots: "I don't think there has been more than two miles between us since we began. It has been a fascinating encounter and one that is all about boat on boat tactics. We had an heroic tacking duel through the Anguilla Strait. The leg down to Guadeloupe looks like a tight reach in building breeze, classic conditions for these awesome yachts. We have just cracked off after rounding Tintamarre. We have an enormous amount of sail up and we have opened up a ¾ mile lead but no doubt Windrose will catch us up and we will have another bout of energy sapping sail manoeuvres on the south side of Guadeloupe in the early hours, I have to say this is a truly epic race."