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Spinnakers May Help Irish Boats in RORC Caribbean 600, But in These Winds it Seems They’re Not Essential……..

22nd February 2018
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Pata Negra cresting it. Despite wholesale spinnaker destruction, thank to experiencing a lot of miles on this point of the sailing, the Howth-chartered boat has been able to hold second place in Class 1 in the RORC Caribbean 600 Pata Negra cresting it. Despite wholesale spinnaker destruction, thank to experiencing a lot of miles on this point of the sailing, the Howth-chartered boat has been able to hold second place in Class 1 in the RORC Caribbean 600 Photo: Tim Wright

When the wind is warm you maybe don’t notice too much when it spikes up to between 30 and 40 knots, but light offwind sails certainly do writes W M Nixon. In this boisterous RORC Caribbbean 600 2018, with its 34 retirals out of a fleet of 74 mono-hulls, there have been many blown-out spinnakers. But aboard the IRC 46 Pata Negra chartered by Michael Wright of Howth YC, they’ve been in the spinnaker blitzing business wholesale. The word is that they now haven’t a single one left at all - not one of any shape, weight or size.

Yet despite that, with most of the running being in the early stages when they still had some spinnakers left, and then so much of the rest of the race being flat-out reaching or beating, they’ve managed to hang in there. They’ve hung in to such good effect, that all being well with the rest of the rig and remaining sails, they’ll be finished early tonight (late afternoon local time) to correct into second in Class 1.

RORC Caribbean 600 course3.jpg The sting is in the tail – the final 40-mile beat from Redonda to the finish has been rugged, sometimes in the extreme.

There’s quite a significant gap between them and the Class 1 winner, the potent new NMD 43 Albator from France. And who knows how much narrower that gap might have been if they’d kept some of the lighter cloth intact on Pata Negra. But nevertheless it’s an excellent performance when you think that, ten days ago, most of the Irish crew had never even clapped eyes on the boat before. Yet within the limits of sail shortages, they’ve put in a masterful showing, and have managed to stay sufficiently far ahead of the lower-rated J/44 Spice, aboard which Will Byrne and Chris Raymond of the National YC are sailing, to keep her back in third in Class I.

bam racing3Bam! loving it on the reach. But now her crew face the 40-mile windward slogging match from Redonda to the finish.

Meanwhile, fifty miles astern of Pata Negra and going great guns, clubmate Conor Fogerty and his pals on the little Sunfast 3600 Bam! are on full power and zapping offwind level-pegging with a bunch of larger boats. And they’re still well in the lead in Class 3 - in fact, they’ve a bigger clear margin than ever before on the second boat. Nevertheless with the wind keeping up the pressure, the reality of the 40-mile dead beat in the night from Redonda to the finish at Antigua in a hyper-light 36-footer like Bam! is something that will sort the men from the boys.

Race tracker here 

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