Ireland's sailing, boating & maritime magazine

Displaying items by tag: Caribbean

Howth Yacht Club welcomes Cormac Farrelly to the clubhouse tomorrow evening (Thursday 7 April) to regale with tales from the tropics.

And the bar will be mixing Caribbean-inspired cocktails for the perfect accompaniment to the evening thats bound to inspire future cruising to — or chartering in — the West Indies.

Entrance is free for the talk which kicks off at 7.30pm — email [email protected] for more.

Published in Howth YC
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Following one of the biggest wind inshore regattas where racing pressed ahead regardless, this year’s St Maarten Heineken Regatta will be one which competitors will recall with a wry smile, bragging about 'how they survived it’. It was also the second of the International Maxi Association’s new four event Caribbean Maxi Challenge, following on from February’s RORC Caribbean 600.

The four days of racing culminated in Sunday’s ultra-lively course around marks starting off the Franco-Dutch Caribbean island’s Simpson Bay. As Chris Sherlock, skipper of the Farr 100 Leopard 3 described it: “We had 35 knots at the start. It was probably the hairiest start in my 27 years being involved with the Leopard program and probably the hairiest day’s sailing for an inshore regatta…but we loved it!” Quite an admission for a skipper who, since Leopard 3 was launched in 2007, has campaigned her relentlessly across the planet, mainly through Mike Slade’s long ownership of her.

Sherlock continued: “It was great fun. 25-26 knots of boat speed downwind. It couldn’t have been better.” More importantly, Leopard 3’s enthusiastic Dutch owner also relished it. “He just loved it – driving a 100ft maxi downwind in 25-30 knots, matching wind speed. You don’t get it much better than that in t-shirts and shorts…” 

Janssen de Jong – DutchSail finished tied on points with Sailing Poland but lost on countback to her sistership. Photo: James TomlinsonJanssen de Jong – DutchSail finished tied on points with Sailing Poland but lost on countback to her sistership. Photo: James Tomlinson

In this week’s brisk conditions it was the boats geared up for sailing around the planet that prevailed. The event attracts many former Volvo Ocean Race yachts and competing this year were four VO70s and four VO65s. Ultimately it was three of these that owned the podium, separated by just one point after four races. Robert Gwózdz and Marcin Sutkowski’s Gdynia-based VO65 Sailing Poland claimed both Saturday and Sunday’s races to win on countback from the Jelmer van Beek-skippered Janssen de Jong – DutchSail.

Ironically calling tactics on board Sailing Poland was Volvo Ocean Race legend Bouwe Bekking, who found himself racing against his old steed (Janssen de Jong – DutchSail Bekking had skippered to second and then third place respectively in the last two editions of the fully crewed round the world race as Team Brunel).

“It has been a very good week and a lot of fun, because it has been a very competitive class with all the VO65s and VO70s, plus Leopard and Deep Blue,” Bekking said. “We were very rusty in the beginning, but we had a fantastic week and winning is always nice, especially for the owners and their guests.”

Wet ride for the foredeck hands on board the VO70 I Love Poland, currently second overall in the IMA's Caribbean Maxi Challenge. Photo: James Tomlinson The VO70 I Love Poland, currently second overall in the IMA's Caribbean Maxi Challenge. Photo: James Tomlinson

Having finished second maxi in the RORC Caribbean 600 when she was skippered by triple Farr 30 World Championship Deneen Demourkas, Sailing Poland now leads the IMA Caribbean Maxi Challenge at its halfway stage. The IMA CMC leaderboard currently has a Polish 1-2 with the Polish National Foundation’s VO70 I Love Poland (ex-Puma), skippered by Grzegorz Baranowski, currently holding second, three points from first.

A St Maarten Heineken Regatta regular over the years, Bekking complimented the race committee: “They did a really good job on the courses – they sent the big classes on big courses and kept them away from everyone else. It was three hours of sailing, which is excellent. We enjoyed the sailing.”

Finally an opportunity to sail in big breeze for the crew of Wendy Schmidt's Deep Blue. Photos: James TomlinsonFinally an opportunity to sail in big breeze for the crew of Wendy Schmidt's Deep Blue. Photos: James Tomlinson

For Wendy Schmidt and her crew on Deep Blue, it was a challenging week racing in brisk conditions for the first time in their still relatively new Botin Partners 85. Sadly on the final day, they suffered their first significant technical set-back. Deep Blue’s American tactician and project manager Rob MacMillan explained: “Today was fun. We knew it was going to be squally. We got off to a great start, but after we tacked on to the layline to the mark we started to have some hydraulic gremlins and we couldn’t trim any of the sails, so we had to sail most of that beat with the sails not trimmed.

“We were able to get around the mark first and did the reaching leg and the team did a spectacular gybe set. It was still pretty windy. Then the same hydraulic issue popped up and we had to shut the entire system down.” They got up and running again but rounding the leeward mark and attempting to head back upwind they once again were unable to trim on and chose to retire.

Wendy Schmidt and her team are St Maarten Heineken Regatta regulars. While this was their first time here in Deep Blue, they previously competed in Schmidt's Swan 80 Selene, winning the Maxi class in 2019. MacMillan said of the event: “It is one of our favourite events in the Caribbean – big wind, blue water, bright skies. There is a good energy with the mix between bareboats and maxis. Sailing in a 10-boat class is always fun with boats this big. This is a good event for more maxis to come do.”

The IMA Caribbean Maxi Challenge continues over 17-23 April with Les Voiles de St Barth Richard Mille.

Full results here.

Published in Superyachts
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#Offshore - Offshore vessels around the Caribbean are being asked to watch out for a toy ship on the waves that’s in need of a recharge.

As BBC News reports, the appeal comes from a family in Scotland that launched the specially adapted Playmobil pirate ship, dubbed Adventure, from Peterhead in Aberdeenshire last summer.

Since then, the little plastic boat has travelled with the currents to Scandinavia in the northeast, and then thousands of miles southwest to Guyana in South America.

MacNeill Ferguson and his sons Ollie and Harry have been following Adventure’s progress via a battery-powered tracker they embedded in the ship as it was prepped to better handle ocean-going conditions.

But with the battery now drained by three-quarters, the Fergusons are urging any vessels in the area where the tracker shows its heading — and a popular spot for many Irish offshore yachts — to fish it out for a much-needed recharge.

BBC News has more on the story HERE.

Published in Offshore
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With just over a month before the start of the 10th edition of the RORC Caribbean 600, over 60 yachts have officially entered the Caribbean classic. Superyachts, maxis, multihulls and a vast array of racing and cruising yachts will be taking on the beautiful, yet challenging race around 11 Caribbean islands.

Perhaps as many as 20 Irish sailors are taking part in all, and the preliminary list shows that Adrian Lee’s Cookson 50 Lee Overlay Partners (Royal St George YC), winner of the first RORC Caribbean 600 in 2009, is back in the hunt and up against such other noted Cookson 50s as American Ron O’Hanley’s Privateer, runner-up in the Rolex Fastnet Race 2017. 

Ian Moore of Carrickfergus, overall winning navigator of Hap Fauth’s Maxi 72 Bella Mente in last year’s Caribbean 600, is going again, but aboard a boat of a different vintage. Just this morning in New York, he signed up to pilot the Elliott 52 Outsider, a 1997 New Zealand design though built in 2006 and still a very competitive proposition generally - particularly so with Moore calling the shots. 

Conor Fogerty’s Sunfast 36000 Bam! (Howth YC, class winner in 2016) is very much in the hunt, his crew including Mini-Transat veteran Tom Dolan. Irish-French interest is further maintained with popular Round Ireland contender Eric de Turckheim of La Rochelle with his new 54ft Teasing Machine, overall winner of the recent east-west RORC Transatlantic Race. 

In IRC Two, last year's winner and sixth overall, El Ocaso is looking for a charter and is one of three J/122s entered this year, alongside Pamala Baldwin's Antiguan Liquid and Bernard McGranaghan's French Noisy Oyster.

"It's exciting, exhilarating, exhausting and filled with the spirit of adventure. We are brave-hearts with a mission - to dig deep and give it our best. We learn to expect the unexpected. We bond and make lifelong friends and cherish priceless memories," says Pamala Baldwin, owner of J/122 Liquid.

Two Antiguan yachts scored memorable victories in 2017, Bernie Evan-Wong's RP37 Taz was the winner of IRC One and Jonty and Vicki Layfield's Swan 48 Sleeper X was the winner of IRC Three.

Sleeper X will be one of the oldest yachts competing and is a true classic, but there is more than meets the eye to the 1973 Olin Stephens design. Under her former name Jacobite, she won three back-to-back Swan European titles and was class winner at the Swan Worlds:

"We have had a number of Swans, but this one is special," commented Jonty Layfield. "Despite her age Sleeper is in really good condition and we love to cruise as well as race. Winning class last year was fantastic and we would love to repeat that. We were also ninth overall and it would be amazing if any of the smaller yachts could break into the top five this year. The core Sleeper crew has been racing together for over 20 years and we also have talented young Antiguan sailors on board, which is a great mix and it is really rewarding to help young talent develop."

Two all-women teams will be competing in the 10th edition of the RORC Caribbean 600. Miramar Sailing's Grand Soleil 46.3 Phoenix, skippered by Pippa Turton will have a crew of nine, and Girls for Sail's Beneteau First 40.7 Hot Stuff, skippered by Sophie O'Neill returns having finished last year's race during the prize giving after over five days at sea.

"We pushed really hard to make it in time for the party and it was one of the best evenings. I love racing with the RORC because they really put on well managed and enjoyable racing," commented O'Neill. "I was delighted to hear that there will be another all-female team in this year's race. I am sure we will want to meet up beforehand to get to know each other and share a few drinks afterwards, but during the race, it will be very competitive."

The 2018 RORC Caribbean 600 starts from Antigua on Monday 19th February. 

Link to current entry list here

Published in RORC
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#WhichIslands - If this photo reminds you of a tropical escape, you’re not alone! Research has revealed that, on average, almost 80% of Brits mistook photographs of the Channel Islands for the Caribbean, New Zealand and other exotic destinations around the globe.

In the survey, commissioned by Channel Islands’ operator Condor Ferries, respondents were asked to identify where in the world they thought a series of photographs were taken, with the likes of Croatia, Portugal and Italy being just some of the locations included. Notably, only 15% of 18-24 year olds recognised the Channel Islands, with 45-54 year old respondents performing the strongest, but still with only 25% on average guessing the locations correctly.

Justin Amey, Head of Marketing at Condor Ferries, commented: “We were amazed to see that over three quarters of people living in the UK didn’t recognise the Channel Islands. The results just go to prove that you don’t have to go a long way to enjoy a beautiful holiday destination. The Channel Islands are just right for people who want a break without the pain of a long haul flight.

“The Channel Islands are just a stone’s throw away from the UK mainland and are becoming increasingly popular as holiday makers opt for more accessible breaks, with no luggage restrictions, exchange rates and airports to worry about. The Channel Islands strike the perfect balance between offering an easy to get to destination and world-class scenery, with stunning beaches, fine food, walks and towns to discover.”

Named as the warmest place in the British Isles, the Channel Islands are perfect for enjoying safe, sandy beaches on a summer break. Travelling by sea also means passengers can pack everything they need into their car, including the family pets, all whilst enjoy a getaway without the worry of baggage restrictions.

Last year, over 130,000 people travelled to the Channel Islands by fastferry and conventional (see The 'Potato' ferry) .This number is set to increase as staycations are predicted to become more popular*.

Justin added: “This survey shows that there are still many people living in the UK who aren’t aware of how stunningly beautiful the Channel Islands are, which is something we are working to change, in partnership with the Tourism Boards on the Islands. We would encourage anyone looking to book their summer holiday to consider Jersey or Guernsey, and they’ll see for themselves that you can feel like you’re in the Caribbean but still be on the doorstep of mainland UK.”

Demand is already high for Condor Ferries’ spring and summer crossings operating from Portsmouth and Poole. In addition to French services out of St. Malo, Brittany.

Published in Ferry

Hurtling around the Caribbean at speeds in excess of 30 knots and topping out nearer 40, often barely a boat length apart, the epic duel between MOD70s Concise 10 and Phaedo3 came to a conclusion after 32 hours of hot racing. Lloyd Thornburg's MOD70 Phaedo3, co-skippered by Brian Thompson crossed the finish line at Fort Charlotte in an elapsed time of 31 hours, 59 minutes, 04 seconds, breaking their own multihull race record set last year by 1 hour 34 minutes 26 seconds.

Barely out of sight of each other the entire race, Tony Lawson's MOD70 Concise 10, skippered by Ned Collier Wakefield was just 9mins 52 seconds behind. The superyachts in Falmouth Harbour heralded the arrival of Phaedo3 and Concise 10 with a cacophony of horns as hundreds of race fans gathered dockside to cheer the two teams to the dock.

Lloyd Thornburg, Owner/Skipper Phaedo3: "Since we set the record last year we have got a lot better; our manoeuvres are improved and we are sailing a better course. We made a few mistakes out there which we will correct next time but this is the best group of sailors I have sailed with. There is nobody I would rather sail with than this group of guys; I am so happy. We weren't thinking about the record at any stage because we were so focused on match racing Concise. We had to dig deep and they were doing the same and they gave us a hell of a race. We were nervous and never comfortable."

Pete Cumming Phaedo3 Trimmer: "Upwind we were struggling to answer some of their questions. They were higher and faster than us and no matter what we did we found it hard to match them, but by the last beat we had figured it out. But they gave us a big scare because if you find a speed edge in these boats it is not a fraction of a knot, it is more like two knots. Those guys are getting faster all the time, they are smart guys and they put up a good fight and we will need to keep upping our game."

Brian Thompson Phaedo3 Co-Skipper: "I didn't know we had broken the record until we had crossed the line. Breaking the record by over an hour and a half just shows you that we have come along and improved because the weather was lighter this year. Also with the help of our fellow competitor Concise, they pushed us really hard, so we went even faster than last year. The Phaedo Team is so much more improved than last year and that includes Lloyd who is now a really good helmsman. He did the start, the first beat and much of the race. He is a superb driver and this is a tricky boat to sail. This is a great win and to come back to this crowd is special for me because I grew up sailing in Antigua and I have seen it develop, so to have all the horns blaring on arrival was a magic moment."

Michel Desjoyeaux, Concise 10: " The level of sailing of Team Concise is pretty good. They have only been sailing the boat for six month and they are learning very fast. So we have been working on some special functions and tasks, including sail trim and balance of the boat. Phaedo3 won the race, congratulations to them, but we had some opportunities to close the gap which we took but it was not enough. It was a good contest and if you don't want to be part of that, then you shouldn't race.

Ned Collier Wakefield, Skipper Concise 10: "That was a brilliant race but also a frustrating result. They have a downwind mode that we haven't got and vice-versa upwind. We certainly learnt a lot and it was great sailing with Michel (Desjoyeaux), so lots to learn from this. We did 600 miles in 31 hours and we are still in shorts and t-shirts - a bit damp, but it has been fantastic! These boats are absolutely incredible, amazing machines; to chew up the miles like that and be back for beers on the second day is unbelievable. Many thanks to the RORC for laying on a great race and thanks to all of the people that support us."


Published in RORC
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For those reared in the simple certainties of the course in the offshore classics like the Rolex Fastnet Race and the even more clearly defined Volvo Round Ireland Race, the multi-island RORC Caribbean 600 which starts tomorrow (Monday) morning at Antigua is a strange beast writes W M Nixon.

Set against the straight-line austerity of other long-established classics such as the Newport-Bermuda and the Rolex Sydney-Hobart, its weaving course makes it seem almost fussy. But in a typical February in the Northern Hemisphere, people will happily race round as many islands as are required to make the magic 600 miles total. Just so long as it’s in those marvellous Caribbean sailing and climatic conditions which contrast so totally with what many other areas of the Northern Hemisphere are experiencing in this dank dark cold month.

RORC Caribbean 600 course
It’s a busy course – with so many islands to be ticked off, navigators could usefully employ the services of a continuity director…

Eleven islands are required to act as race marks in order to put sufficient mileage in the course. But with 77 boats – many of them noted superstars – tuned up and ready to go, it’s clear that the huge variety of legs both long and short which have to be sailed is no deterrent, and Irish interest is high both in terms of participation, and in the presence of international contenders expected for the Volvo Round Ireland Race in June.

Then too we’ve a certain proprietorial interest. The Caribbean 600 having been inaugurated as recently as 2009, it’s a modern classic. And the fact that on its first staging, it was won overall by Adrian Lee’s Cookson 50 Lee Overlay Partners from Dun Laoghaire, makes it extra special. For in her previous life as Ger O’Rourke’s Chieftain, the Lee ship had been overall winner in the Rolex Fastnet Race 2007, providing the rare if not unique situation that the same Irish boat won two classics in the space of just 18 months.

Six years later, the ever-green Cookson 50 is such a good all-rounder that she’s still very much in the hunt, and Lee Overlay Partners is in the listings for tomorrow’s start, the smallest boat in the six strong canting-keel division which includes such giants as Jim and Kristy Hinze Clark’s mega-powerful hundred footer Comanche.

We’ve interest throughout the race, as in addition to Lee Overlay Partners, the fleet includes two Howth Yacht Club crews. Howth sailors with the likes of Kieran Jameson on the strength have already got involved in past seasons in the Rolex Middle Sea Race with a Performance Yacht Charter’s First 40, and now with two of PWC’s boats of this proven marque on the other side of the Atlantic, there with PYC’s Lucy Johnson on Southern Child are Howth men raring to go Caribbean island-rounding. Much of the Howth team assembled by Darren Wright for the 2014 Rolex Middle Sea Race are re-joining the same boat, Southern Child, and their lineup incudes Kieran Jameson, Frank Dillon, Rick de Neve, Jonny White, Colm Bermingham, while new talent in the form of Michael Wright, recently-retired HYC Commodore Brian Turvey, and young Howth K25 squad member Luke Malcolm are also on the strength.

First 40 Southern Child
One of the two Howth crews will be racing the First 40 Southern Child, which they’ve already campaigned in the Rolex Middle Sea Race

Villa Touloulou

Howth Yacht Club Headquarters for the RORC 600: Villa Touloulou

Up against them to provide a spot of in-club competition is HYC’s Conor Fogerty who is doing an Atlantic circuit as a mix of racing and cruising with his new Sunfast 3600 Bam, a boat which might have been designed with RORC Caribbean 600 enjoyment in mind. Bam’s racing crew coming out from home include Simon Knowles, Daragh Heagney, Paddy Gregory, Roger Smith and Anthony Doyle. After Bam sister-ship Red Shift’s success in last year’s race, Conor Fogerty has great hopes for his stylish boats showing once tomorrow has seen the start – usually a very challenging business in itself – get cleanly away.

Conor Fogerty Sunfast 36 Bam
Conor Fogerty’s Sunfast 36 Bam from Howth is doing the RORC Caribbean 600 as part of an Atlantic odyysey

Ireland’s own RORC Commodore Michael Boyd of the RIYC, who won the Gull Salver for best-placed Irish boat in last year’s Fastnet Race with the Grand Soleil 43 Quokka 8, is helping to pass the time while waiting for delivery of his new JPK 10.80 by racing the Caribbean as navigator on Andy McIrvine’s Grand Soleil 46 Bella Donna.

As for pointers towards the Volvo Round Ireland Race in June, the two MOD 70 trimarans already signed up for it, Lloyd Thornburg’s Phaedo 3 and Concise 10 (Tony Lawson & Ned Collier Waefield) are both g0ing for the Caribbean 600.

Lloyd Thornburg’s MOD 70 Phaedo 3 is one of two sister-ships entered for the Volvo Round Ireland Race 2016 which are also doing the Caribbean 600, the other being Concise 10.

In fact it’s a very eclectic fleet, as Eric de Turckheim’s noted Commodore’s Cup contender of 2014, Teasing Machine from France, has somehow got herself to the Caribbean after being far away to cut a successful swathe through the recent Rolex Sydney-Hobart Race. And up towards the top of the fleet, the 72ft mini-maxi Momo, which was best of the bigger boats in last summer’s Fastnet, find herself up against Hap Fauth’s similarly-sized superstar Bella Mente, which had to scratch from the 2015 Fastnet Race for personal reasons after a blisteringly successful Cowes Week, but is now set to go in a race in which she is the defending champion.

Bella Mente
Back to the fray. Having been forced to scratch from the Rolex Fastnet 2015 in which she was a favourite, Hap Fauth’s 72ft mini-maxi Bella Mente is very much in the hunt in tomorrow morning’s RORC Caribbean 600, in which she is defending champion.

The 72ft mini-maxis seem to be the favoured size of boat o the most recent peformances, as Nik Zennstrom’s Ran won in 2012, George Sakellaris’s Shockwave won in 2014, and Bella Mente won in 2015. But the evergreen Cookson 50 is a good steady bet, with Lee Overlay Partners; win in 2009, and Ron O’Hanley’s with Privateer in 2013.

The RORC Caribbean 600 starting process gets under way at 1030hrs local time tomorrow morning off Antigua, and there are going to be 77 very busy crews having more than a few dry-mouth moments before they get clear away around this island’s beautiful east coast.

Published in Caribbean 600

#historicboats – There is a small group of islands in the Lesser Antilles where the traditions of boatbuilding were once crucial to the survival of local communities skimming a living from the sea. Hundreds of sailing vessels were once launched here, more than anywhere in the West Indies.

Today there is no more trading by sail, and these skills have vanished elsewhere in the region.

The film "Vanishing Sail" represents over fifteen years of research and documenting the art form of wooden boatbuilding in the Eastern Caribbean.

The Premiere of the movie "Vanishing Sail" - what a night! West Indies sloops & schooners from up and down the islands gathered on the dock for the 20th anniversary St. Barth Film Festival.

By nightfall the crowd swelled to 350 + people, a brief intro and the music of the sea began. The dock became wrapped in silence, only the creaking of mooring lines, the vessels all swaying together lit by the moon, all feeling the story as one.

Very powerful indeed to finally see our film come alive on a huge screen with such a wonderful audience followed by a standing ovation.

The film will be screened at selected Film Festivals during this summer & fall prior to a general release.

Published in Historic Boats

#Missing - The circumstances surrounding the disappearance of an Irish man on a Caribbean cruise "remain unclear", according to US coastguard chiefs.

The Irish Independent reports on 67-year-old Dominic William O'Carroll, who was reported missing on Monday 13 April after a crew member on Croisières de France's MV Horizon saw something fall overboard from the vessel that morning.

A search and rescue operation covering more than 1,000 square nautical miles of the coast off Puerto Rico has since been called off.

The Irish Independent has more on the story HERE.

Published in Cruise Liners

The RORC Caribbean 600 started from Antigua on Monday 23rd February 2015. The 600nm course circumnavigates 11 Caribbean Islands starting from Fort Charlotte, English Harbour, Antigua and heads north as far as St Martin and south to Guadeloupe taking in Barbuda, Nevis, St Kitts, Saba and St Barth's, finishing back in Antigua. 

Published in Caribbean 600
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