Afloat.ie “Sailor of the Month” for October 2016, ace navigator Ian Moore originally from Carrickfergus, is once again calling the shots aboard Hap Fauth’s Maxi 72 Bella Mente. And they’re leading the fleet in the RORC Caribbean 600 by nearly an hour on corrected time as the first 24 hours of racing draws to a close with many islands still to be rounded, and a myriad of wind changes to be negotiated writes W M Nixon.
2016 was Moore’s dream year, as among other achievements he piloted the RP 63 Lucky to a runaway win in the Transatlantic Race in July, and then he transferred to Bella Mente for Cowes Week in August and showed he was equally adept at working the inshore Solent conditions to take just about every major prize. Came October, and he guided the Cookson 50 Mascalzone Latino to the overall win in the Middle Sea Race.
Now he’s back at the screens aboard Bella Mente, and has clearly taken over where he left off, on top form. He would have been in there on Bella Mente’s start, which was a classic, calling for water right in under the cliffs as she forced the fleet - and particularly the 2016 winner Proteus – to allow her to tack onto port.
But this is one complex race, like sailing a course made from a bowl of spaghetti, so a lot of chips (if you’ll excuse a hyper-mixing of metaphors) have to fall the right way into the deep-fat fryer which is Caribbean racing, in order to stay ahead of a hungry fleet including the likes of George David’s Rambler 88.
Despite the sad sudden departure of Sean McCarter from the fray aboard the much-fancied Infiniti 46 Maverick after a crewman sustained a serious hand injury, Irish interest is strong throughout the fleet, and the one boat with an Irish sail number, Simon and Nancy DiPietro’s Kinsale YC-registered Briand 76 Lilla (a prize winner in past races), is tramping along in the top half of the fleet, well-placed for a boat which is really a cruiser-racer.
Through the fleet we find such Irish luminaries as Tom McWilliam aboard Leopard, Gabrielle MacManus on Olympia’s Tigress, Wicklow’s David “Farmer” Ryan and WSC Commodorial spouse Jim Cummins on the First 40 Arthur Logic, Damian Foxall on Phaedo 3, Marcus Spillane on Bounty, Barry Hurley and James Murphy on Pata Negra, Maurice “Prof” O’Connell and Dwayne Lysaght on Louise, Timothy Goodbody, Aine Hanevy and Paul O’Donoghue on Danneskjold, Cian O’Carroll on Eleonara E, William Byrne and Chris Raymond on Spice, Mark Norman on Piccolo, Storme Delaney (I’m not making these names up) and Ciara Scott on Sunset, and James Carroll on Spice.
Between them all, we should have something to show for everyone’s efforts in a race which at its inauguration in 2009 was won overall by Adrian Lee’s Cookson 50 Lee Overlay Partners of the Royal St George YC. This is a boat which in a previous incarnation was Ger O’Rourke’s Cheftain of the Royal Western of Ireland yacht Club, overall winner of the 2007 Fastnet. Our 2017 squad have a lot to live up to.