The RORC Caribbean 600 began with a cliffhanger start involving real cliffs from which the Maxi 72 Bella Mente (Hap Fauth, US) got the better of defending champion Proteus, another American Maxi 72 campaigned by George Sakellaris and Reginald Cole writes W M Nixon.
And as of 1800hrs Irish time Wednesday, with just thirty miles to the finish at Antigua, it’s likely they’re racing for the overall win in a cliffhanger finish, metaphorically speaking this time, swapping places with every manoeuvre.
The way that this unique race of a cat’s cradle course around and among islands to make up a total distance above the magic minimum 600 miles expected of the great classics may mean that it’s not really offshore racing as we usually know it. But it certainly has its followers on the edge of their seats.
Rambler 88 is currently the only boat finished, and predictions based on current performance suggest she might hold onto fourth. But with afternoon breezes building and then falling away as the rest of the fleet make their way towards the finish off English Harbour, the very fact of having it done and dusted is a matter of quiet encouragement for George David and his crew aboard the boat which won every which way in the Volvo Round Ireland Race just eight months ago.
Meanwhile, think of the mental stress. Even while we’ve been scribbling this, Ian Moore’s tactics have brought Bella Menta up past Proteus, and the Fauth boat is now three miles ahead of Proteus with just 29 miles to go, and making 9.6 knots to the 5.8 of Proteus……Time for a cup of strong tea.
RORC Adds: George David's American Maxi, Rambler 88 finished the 2017 RORC Caribbean 600 on Wednesday 22 February 2017 at 11 hrs 56 mins 17 secs AST taking Monohull Line Honours.
This year was George David's third line honours win in the RORC Caribbean 600. However, the record set by his previous boat, Rambler 100 in 2011 remains intact for another year. However, George David was very content with the performance of the team and Rambler 88.
"The forecast was right on for direction as the breeze went a full 360 degrees, but we had a bit more velocity than anticipated. It was a good race and we enjoyed it very much but this was a different race altogether. It was more like the English Channel than the Caribbean and Rambler 88 will be racing there this summer in our build up to the Rolex Fastnet Race. I have never taken part in those races before so that will be interesting as well.
Mike Slade's British Maxi Leopard 3 is expected to be the second monohull to finish the race in front of two Maxi72s vying for the overall win under IRC: Hap Fauth's Bella Mente and George Sakellaris' Proteus. Lionel Pean's French Volvo70 SFS II is also expected to finish the race today, 22 February at 17:30 AST.