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Big Is Best In RORC Caribbean 600, But Pata Negra Shows Well

22nd February 2024
Much up-dated since she first appeared in 2007, the Farr Super-Maxi Leopard 3 has shown that the RORC Caribbean 600 tends to favour bigger boats
Much up-dated since she first appeared in 2007, the Farr Super-Maxi Leopard 3 has shown that the RORC Caribbean 600 tends to favour bigger boats

Update 12:45 Thursday, Feb 22: In previewing the RORC Caribbean 600 2024, we made the point that in its 15 years of annual staging, no boat under 50ft LOA had ever emerged as the overall winner, and the smallest top scorers have been canting-keel Cookson 50s, which rate higher than many a larger boat.

It seems the trend is going to be emphasized with the current race. The very much-up-dated 2007-vintage Farr Super-Maxi Leopard 3 (with Tom McWilliam on the crew) is long home and hosed as line honours winner, a good 15 hours ahead on the water of the hundred footer Aragon, which becomes almost invisible on CT. And as the hours tick by, other boats may be finishing, but none of them is challenging the Leopard IRC lead.

 A zippy piece of work – the formidable new Carkeek CF250 Ran was looking good, but in the end sheer size seems to be winning the day A zippy piece of work – the formidable new Carkeek CF250 Ran was looking good, but in the end sheer size seems to be winning the day

For a while Nik Zennstrom’s extremely zippy-looking Carkeek CF520 (with Cork's Justin Slattery on board - Ed) had looked to be carrying the flag for the 52 footers, but now she’s in and two hours behind Leopard on handicap, while the Askew brothers new Wizard - which is the old Matt Allen TP52 Ichi Ban – is showing on the magic calculator as a clear hour behind Ran.


Pausing only to reflect that the Wizard team of Charlie Enright and Dave & Pete Askew sound more like three ould fellas that you might meet in an ancient bar in The Liberties in Dublin, rather than one of international offshore racing’s hotter teams with a Fastnet overall win in their CV, we move down the listings for Irish and Irish Sea interest and find that Andrew and Sam Hall’s Lombard 46 Pata Negra of Pwllheli– with Transatlantic rower Mark Bolger of Baltimore SC on the crew - is our best hope at second on CT in IRC 1, with 110 miles still to sail and 7.0 knots on the clock.

Further back, the chartered J/122 El Ocaso (Simon Knowles, Howth YC) has had her moments in the frame in IRC 1, but currently she’s at 7th in class and down the line with 200 miles to sail with just 5.6 knots being made good.

Most of us would think of a J/122 as a larger boat, but with everything king-size in Caribbean sailing, she’s a little ’un. It’s a situation emphasized by the nature of the course, in which the final leg is 60 miles from Redondo to Antigua. If that’s the usual windward slug and night is making on and you know the big boat crews are already partying, it can seem as though Antigua is on the other side of the planet.

Tracker and results below

Published in Caribbean 600

Caribbean 600 Race Live Tracker 2024

Track the progress of the 2024 Caribbean 600 Race fleet on the live tracker above 

The 15th edition of the 600-mile race organised by the Royal Ocean Racing Club starts on Monday, February 19th from Antigua.


WM Nixon

About The Author

WM Nixon

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William M Nixon has been writing about sailing in Ireland for many years in print and online, and his work has appeared internationally in magazines and books. His own experience ranges from club sailing to international offshore events, and he has cruised extensively under sail, often in his own boats which have ranged in size from an 11ft dinghy to a 35ft cruiser-racer. He has also been involved in the administration of several sailing organisations.

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RORC's Caribbean 600 Race

The 14th edition of the RORC Caribbean 600 will start from Antigua on Tuesday, 14th February 2023.

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


2020 - Tilmar Hansen, Outsider, TP52 (GER)
2019 - David and Peter Askew, Wizard, Volvo 70 (USA)
2018 - George David, Rambler 88, Maxi (USA)
2017 - Hap Fauth, Bella Mente, JV72 (USA)
2016 - George Sakellaris, Maxi 72, Proteus (USA)
2015 - Hap Fauth, JV72, Bella Mente (USA)
2014 - George Sakellaris, RP72, Shockwave (USA)
2013 - Ron O'Hanley, Privateer, Cookson 50 (USA)
2012 - Niklas Zennström's JV72, Rán (GBR)
2011 - George David, Rambler 100, JK 100 (USA)
2010 - Karl C L Kwok, Beau Geste, Farr 80 (HKG)
2009 - Adrian Lee, Lee Overlay Partners, Cookson 50 (IRL)


Multihull record (2019): Giovanni Soldini, Maserati, Multi 70 (ITA) - 30 hours, 49 minutes, 00 seconds
(I day 6 hrs 49 mins 0 secs)

Monohull record (2018): George David, Rambler 88, Maxi (USA) - 37 hours, 41 minutes, 45 seconds
(1 day 13 hrs 41 mins 45 secs)

At a Glance - RORC Caribbean 600 2024

The 15th anniversary edition of the RORC Caribbean 600 starts in Antigua on 19th February 2024.

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