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Irish Sailors Expecting Tough Sailing in RORC Caribbean 600

19th February 2018
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The power……and maybe the glory, too. George David’s Rambler 88 has what it takes to dominate today’s RORC Caribbean 600, which is expecting to experience tough conditions. The power……and maybe the glory, too. George David’s Rambler 88 has what it takes to dominate today’s RORC Caribbean 600, which is expecting to experience tough conditions.

“It could be the most rugged RORC Caribbean 600 in the race’s ten year history”. That is one of the predictions being made in advance of this afternoon’s start off Antigua at 11am local time writes W M Nixon. And those who recall the superb heavy weather performance of George David’s Rambler 88 in breaking records and winning handicaps every which way in the Volvo Round Ireland Race 2016 will reckon that this is the boat to beat, for she could well break the course record of 1 day 16 hours and 20 minutes set by the same owner’s Rambler 100 back in 2011.

Not only is Rambler 88 looking at line honours and a possible new course record, but the handicap win is also a prospect, as the strong nor’easters being forecast – they might get to 35 knots, and more in squalls – are forecast to ease as the week goes on, possibly in time to slow back the smaller boats.

That said, 35 knots is more than is needed for a record. 20-25 knots might be about right, with a bit more for the many downwind legs in a complex course which takes the fleet round 11 islands and through multiple navigational challenges.

RORC caribbean 600The complex 600-mile course – starting and finishing at the south end of Antigua – takes the fleet round eleven islands in a very special navigational and tactical challenge

elliott 52 outsider2It will be a fast but very wet sail – Ian Moore is navigating Tilmar Hansen’s Elliott 52 Outsider

Thus good navigator/tacticians are at even more of a premium than usual, and Ireland’s Ian Moore, - navigator of last year’s overall winner, the Maxi 72 Bella Mente – is this year doing his stuff on the Tilmar Hansen-owned, Bo Tichman skippered New Zealand-built Elliott 52 Outsider, which is from Germany, though the owner is Florida-based They’ll have a fast but wet sail. In fact, if any boat isn’t having a fast but wet sail, then they’re not really in the race at all.

The large Irish contingent has been further increased with the confirmation that Ludde Ingvall’s Maxi CQS – with Cork’s David Kenefick calling the shots – will indeed be going as part of the 85-strong IRC fleet.

cqs sailing3Ludde Ingvall’s highly-specialised Maxi 100 CQS, with Cork’s David Kenefick on board, has brought fleet numbers up to 85 boats.

Other additions to lists we’ve been carrying in recent weeks include Will Byrne and Chris Raymond of the National YC in Dun Laoghaire. They’re going again with American Kevin McLaughlin (his people are from Donegal some time back) in the J/44 Spice. They were nicely set up for a class place in 2017’s race, but got stuck in the parking lot at Guadeloupe. Nothing daunted, Will Byrne – who was in Paul O’Higgins’ winning crew on Rockabill VI in the 2017 Dingle Race – is beavering on with building a career as a professional sailor on the international circuit.

bam racing4“Sailor of the Year” Conor Fogerty’s Sunfast 36 Bam! will be racing with an amateur crew

Amateur crews dominate the entry on the two Howth boats. New Sailor of the Year Conor Fogerty with his Sunfast 36 Bam! (a class winner in 2016’s race)is ready for battle with a crew of friends and shipmates, while the Michael Wright/Kieran Jameson campaign with the Marc Lombard IRC 46 Pata Negra will be looking at conditions which suit the boat if the crew can take the hammering.

pata negra5Pata Negra: big winds (but not too big) seem to suit her well

After her heavy weather victory and record-breaking success in the windy Round Barbados Race three weeks ago, Pata Negra seems to be a horse for the course. But the opposition in this fleet is ferocious, and Adrian Lee’s Cookson 50 Lee Overlay Partners from Dun Laoghaire – with which he won the first Caribbean 600 in 2009 – is another Irish contender which in this case will find that Ron O’Hanley’s American Cookson 50 Privateer is always in with a shout.

For those who like to find links to the Round Ireland fleets of times past, another boat to watch is Eric de Turckheim’s new 54ft Teasing Machine, winner already of November’s RORC Transatlantic Race, and always sailing with that special edge for the honour of France.

Published in RORC
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