Battle of the giant schooners
Both Adela and Windrose capture the imagination of years gone by. In spectacular surroundings the golden age of the schooners was recreated in an epic battle between two magnificent yachts and just before dawn on the fourth day of the RORC Caribbean 600, the gentlemanly duel was settled.
The giant 180ft schooner Adela crossed the finish line to take the gun just 1 hour and 42 minutes ahead of her rival, the 154ft schooner Windrose of Amsterdam. The two schooners enjoyed an intense battle around the race course with the two yachts trading places for the lead on eight separate occasions.
Greg Perkins, skipper of Adela, said of this epic: "The RORC Caribbean 600 is a race that really suits schooners. There is lots of reaching involved rather than upwind, so I suggested to the boss that this would be great race to do. Unfortunately the owner could not come due to work commitments but one of the owner's business friends came aboard as a guest and I think he thoroughly enjoyed it and he fitted in really well and enjoyed the experience."
Adela's guest was Erik Hershman, a friend and business associate of the owner: "That was a bit different to my usual experience on Adela. When I saw all the cushions packed away and all the creature comforts removed or covered in protective tape, I realised that we were in for a wild ride. I could not believe how wet the boat was and how tough it was on board. I knew I was in for a hard time when I was served my dinner in a plastic bowl, the silver service was nowhere to be seen, but it was such a great time. I would definitely do it again but not in cotton shorts!"
Adela's skipper continued: "It was a stunning race, we had such a great battle with Windrose, a match race of schooners over 600 miles. I think that it is a race that will grow in the future as it is such a great romp around the Caribbean. Adela was not designed to race, but over the years we have got into new sails and tweaked a few things.
"The race has been very popular with the crew. I had to turn away a lot of good people. Everybody gelled well together and there was a lot of banter on board with plenty of laughter. All in all it was a great experience. 28 people on board all had the time of their lives, no injuries and we only broke one snap shackle."
Alex Howard, Skipper Windrose said: "It was a tiring race with only five hours sleep and an interesting battle with Adela. We were doing alright until we got around the back of Guadeloupe and then they got away from us and after Desirade it was a drag race really so that's that, they got us. It's a shame we didn't do better, but there is always a next time. We'd like to have got Adela but that's the way it goes. Compared to the race last year it was a bit slower due to the wind, but it was a great race and it is good to get five big superyachts and Spirit of Tradition boats in this event for sure.
"I think it is important to recognise all of the hard work into making the RORC Caribbean 600 such a great success, especially past RORC Commodore, Andrew McIrvine, RORC CEO, Eddie Warden Owen and Stan Pearson. It has been a very good second year for Windrose and we have been delighted to have so many RORC members sailing for the second year in a row."
Andrew McIrvine, past RORC Commodore, added: "I think this year was much more fun as we had people to race against. It was cat and mouse all the way to Saba, and we had a fantastic tacking duel in the Aguilla Strait and came out in front, so that was exciting and then on the long reach they just got away. But we had great fun with other yachts including Lloyd's IDEA and Blackbird. Last year there was nobody to race against, we didn't see anybody that much. I think that all the crew enjoyed the race, including wife. Deborah hasn't been on a long race before and she enjoyed the night sky and I haven't had any complaints from the rest of the crew so that's all good."
The 'meet and greet' team on shore and crew on board Windrose sang 'Happy Birthday' to RORC Commodore, Mike Greville just before he was ceremoniously thrown into the water. A dripping wet Commodore commented: "You know who your friends are for sure. I wondered why someone wanted to borrow my phone. The race for us wasn't too much like hard work. A nice comfortable bunk, air conditioning, good food and lots of young lads to do all the hard work! We had a great race with Adela who unfortunately managed to get in front of us but our watch did manage to get ahead of them more than Andrew's (McIrvine). I don't think Andrew's watch passed Adela once, where as we did at least three times. They also made us get up for 'all hands on deck' twice and we never made them do that."
It is only fair to give the victors the last word. Greg Perkins concluded: "This season, Adela races Windrose at three regattas and we have a barrel of rum on each event and I am two up at the moment, so I think Alex will be fuming! The boats are evenly matched; we have had tacking duels, luffiing matches, and all great fun. I would love to say that Adela will do the race next year, if there is a schooner class, I say bring them down."