Both monohull and multihull Round Ireland record holders are part of a fleet of over 80 yachts expected for the ninth edition of the 2017 RORC Caribbean 600 in which 900 sailors from 30 different nations will race non-stop around 11 Caribbean islands, starting and finishing in Antigua.
Passionate corinthians will be rubbing shoulders with Olympic medallists, America's Cup winners and round the world sailors in a race to take home the coveted RORC Caribbean 600 Trophy. The 600 mile course is designed to offer a tactical, high speed race with stunning vistas at every corner.
"The RORC Caribbean 600 is very different to the other 600 mile races and definitely not a holiday race in the Caribbean," commented RORC Racing Manager, Nick Elliott. "The race has many tactical legs with land effects and wind-driven currents which are both difficult to predict. The heat of the day and the long nights are also unusual features for an offshore race making it every bit as challenging as the Rolex Fastnet Race, and just as exciting. It is interesting to note that the records for the Rolex Fastnet Race and the RORC Caribbean 600 are very similar."
Featuring a magnificent collection of yachts, an incredibly varied fleet will be racing under the IRC, CSA and MOCRA rating systems, as well as Class40s racing under class rules. Rambler 88, Phaedo3 and Maserati will be gunning for course records, however, the winner of the RORC Caribbean 600 Trophy will be decided by the yacht with the best corrected time under IRC.
George David's American Maxi Rambler 88 is back with an impressive crew line-up for another tilt at the race record, the overall win and class honours. New Zealand's multiple America's Cup winner, Brad Butterworth is part of an impressive afterguard including fellow Kiwi, Brad Jackson and Australian navigator, Andrew Cape. Virtually the entire crew are America's Cup winners and stars of the Volvo Ocean Race.
Phaedo3 has assembled a phenomenal crew for the race and multiple world record holder, Brian Thompson is joined by Volvo Ocean Race winners Robert Greenhalgh and Damian Foxall. Extreme 40 champion, Pete Cumming and the formidable talent of Michel Desjoyeux, the only sailor to have won the Vendée Globe twice. Maserati's skipper, Giovanni Soldini is Italy's most decorated offshore sailor and Maserati has been fitted with foils which can provide a speed advantage over Phaedo3. A fascinating contest for multihull line honours is expected.
The winner of the Multihull Class will be the yacht with the best corrected time under MOCRA. Seven teams are entered including Shaun Carroll's Australian Modified Sea Cart 30, Morticia which is the smallest yacht competing in the entire fleet, and the head-turning all-carbon R-Six, skippered by Robert Janecki, which is the first ever entry from Belize.
IRC Overall for the RORC Caribbean 600 Trophy
Overall winners of the previous eight editions of the race have all come from IRC Canting Keel and IRC Zero. Amongst this year's favourites are two Maxi 72s: Hap Fauth's Bella Mente - overall winner in the 2015 race, and current holder of the RORC Caribbean 600 Trophy, George Sakellaris' Proteus.
Whilst the two Maxi 72s are firm favourites, the stellar cast racing in IRC Canting Keel and IRC Zero includes; Farr 100 Leopard and three Volvo 70s, Lionel Pean's SFS II from France, Trifork skippered by Dutchman Bouwe Bekking and Green Dragon, skippered by Austrian Johannes Schwarz. The dark horse of the canting keel class is Maverick, skippered by Oliver Cotterell. The Infiniti 46 with DSS side foils was class winner for the RORC Transatlantic Race and the Rolex Middle Sea Race.
In IRC Zero, the 182ft schooner Adela, skippered by Greg Perkins is the largest yacht taking part and making a RORC Caribbean 600 debut is Anders Nordquist's Shamanna. The 115ft superyacht is the largest of nine Swans competing this year and boasts a crew including many of Malta's best sailors from the Calascione, Podesta and Ripard families. RORC Admiral and IMA Secretary General, Andrew McIrvine is a guest aboard Grant Gordon's Maxi cruiser 72, Louise. Overall winner of the 2017 Cape to Rio Race, Stefan Jentzsch's German Carkeek 47, Black Pearl is the smallest yacht in IRC Zero. South African America's Cup sailors, Mark Sadler and Marc Lagesse form the afterguard.
With 17 yachts, the largest class competing this year is IRC One and a huge variety of yachts includes Giles Redpath's Lombard 46, Pata Negra, with RORC Commodore, Michael Boyd among the crew. Bernie Evan Wong's RP37, Taz will be proudly flying the Antiguan flag once again. Bernie is the life and soul of the race having competed in all nine editions as skipper.
The IRC Two champion, Ross Applebey's Scarlet Oyster is back attempting to win the class for the fourth consecutive race in a highly competitive field including; Ed Fishwick's Redshift on El Ocaso with a young, top-class crew including, 2012 Olympic Silver Medallist Luke Patience and Figaro sailors, Alan Roberts and Nick Cherry, as well as Volvo Ocean Race sailor, Nick Bubb.
Close racing is expected in IRC Three among four vintage Swans, including two Sparkman & Stephens designed Swan 48s, Jonty Layfield's Sleeper X and Andrew & Mia Schell's Isbjorn. Peter Hopps, skipper of the Sigma 38, Sam has competed in every edition of the RORC Caribbean 600.
A number of young talented Figaro teams are expected from Guadeloupe and James Heald's British Swan 45 Nemesis will be racing Two-Handed. Five Class 40s will be competing including Halvard Mabire and Miranda Merron's Campagne de France which won the Class40 division in the 2016 RORC Transatlantic Race, Catherine Pourre's Eärendil, Peter Harding's Phor-ty, Mikael Ryking's Talanta and Marc Lepesqueux's Saint-Pierre & Miquelon.