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RORC Caribbean 600 Countdown Is On

12th February 2020
Pata Negra -  Giles Redpath's British Lombard 46 Pata Negra is ready for the start of the 12th RORC Caribbean 600 Pata Negra - Giles Redpath's British Lombard 46 Pata Negra is ready for the start of the 12th RORC Caribbean 600 Photo: Louay Habib

With less than two weeks until the start of the 12th edition of the RORC Caribbean 600, boats and crew are beginning to arrive in Antigua. The marinas in Falmouth and English Harbour are starting to buzz with activity as sailors from all over the world come to prepare their yachts for the 600-mile race around 11 Caribbean islands. Around 70 teams will be taking part with well over 700 sailors competing. 

As Afloat previously reported, there will be strong Irish interest in the race with up to ten Irish sailors competing.

Giles Redpath's Lombard 46 Pata Negra (GBR) sailed to Antigua after the 2019 RORC Transatlantic Race. Boat Captain Andy Lis has been busy preparing the boat for the team's arrival. Amongst Redpath's crew for the race will be past RORC Commodore Michael Boyd of the Royal Irish Yacht Club in Dun Laoghaire, Figarists Sam Matson and Will Harris, and the current J/70 Corinthian World Champion helm, Marshall King who originally hails from Greystones Sailing Club in County Wicklow.

German TP52 OutsiderIn Antigua and preparing for the RORC Caribbean 600 - Tilmar Hansen's German TP52 Outsider Photo Sander van der Borch
One of the largest yachts on the entry list, Jeroen Van Dooren's Swan 95 Lot99 (NED), has arrived in Antigua. "6076nm from Cape Town to Antigua, filled with sunshine, plenty of rain, flying fish and lots of biscuits! Happy to be back on island time," commented crew member, Penny Chapman. "We sailed from Cape Town to St. Helena, stopping only for supplies, then crossed the Atlantic to Fernando de Noronha, off Brazil. The crew saw an amazing display of spinner dolphins before we set off north. We were blessed with fast-reaching conditions up to Antigua - Lot99 was in her element," continued Lot99 Boat Captain, Dan Newman.

Three Cookson 50s will be competing in this year's race, but they are far from identical. Zoe Taylor and Chris Way will be racing Grace O'Malley (AUS), named after the 16th-century pirate queen of Ireland. Zoe Taylor hails from Australia and has competed in three editions of the Rolex Sydney Hobart. Grace O'Malley was formerly called Lee Overlay Partners; overall winner of the 2009 RORC Caribbean 600. Ron O'Hanley's Privateer (USA) has the tallest rig of the three and an extended bowsprit. Privateer won the race overall in 2013 and was second in 2018.

Joseph Mele's Triple Lindy (USA) also has an extended bowsprit and now has a fixed keel which can extend to 3.8 meters. "We just have to get the right conditions to suit our set up," explained Brad Kellett, Boat Captain for Triple Lindy. "We don't have the same form-stability as the two canting keelboats, but we do have the lowest rating under IRC. If we can perform to our rating, we should do well."

Three Cookson 50sThree Cookson 50s will be battling it out at this year's RORC Caribbean 600 Photo Louay Habib

One of several hi-tech yachts in this year's race is Tilmar Hansen's TP52 Outsider (GER). The Judel/Vrolik design as Platoon won the 2017 Rolex TP52 World Championship, and as Outsider was fourth overall in the 2019 Rolex Fastnet Race. Australian Lindsay Stead has recently joined the team and is in Antigua helping prepare Outsider for the race. "After the Fastnet, it was decided to work on the bunks below and also to improve waterproofing in general," commented Stead. "Outsider will have 15 crew for the race, as that is what she was designed for in terms of righting moment. We have two manual pedestal grinders, and especially for the long reach down to Guadeloupe, we will be swapping out the crew. We are prepared for a wet ride, and in terms of ideal wind conditions, if the breeze sits at around 16 knots, that will be ideal for Outsider."

Farr 58 MaidenLiz Wardley will skipper Tracey Edwards' Farr 58 Maiden which will be racing for the first time since the '89-'90 Whitbread Round the World Race Photo: Louay Habib

The Farr 58 Maiden (GBR), skippered by Tracy Edwards, was runner-up in the 1989-90 Whitbread Round the World Race. Maiden has been beautifully restored and will be captained by Liz Wardley, who has competed in three editions of the Volvo Ocean Race. For the RORC Caribbean 600, Maiden will have race crew and also guests who are making donations to the Maiden Factor Foundation, which seeks to advance the education of girls up to 18 years old, all over the world. The film Maiden (2019) was shortlisted for the Oscars this year and will get a special screening in Antigua before the race.

"Tracy wanted to keep Maiden as original as possible," commented Wardley. "The deck layout is much as it was in 1989, but the equipment is modern. The rig is a little shorter, but we will be running symmetrical spinnakers as Maiden did over 30 years ago. I got a nice surprise when we arrived in Antigua when we tied up very close to a competitor, Esprit de Corps III. The boat was originally Amer Sports One in the 2001-02 Volvo Ocean Race, and I was crew on the sistership Amer Sports Too!"
Dimitry Kondratyev will skipper yuri Fadeev's First 40 Optimus Prime (RUS). The all-Russian team have been competing at Grenada Sailing Week before sailing to Antigua. "The crew come from all over Russia; Moscow, St. Petersburg, and Siberia," commented Kondratyev. "It is great to be back in Antigua, and we are all looking forward to the race. We have only eight on board, which is a bit light, especially if it is as windy as last year."

The 2020 RORC Caribbean 600 is scheduled to start on 24th February 1100 local time (1500 UTC).

Published in RORC
Louay Habib

About The Author

Louay Habib

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Louay Habib is a Maritime Journalist & Broadcaster based in Hamble, United Kingdom

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THE RORC:

  • Established in 1925, The Royal Ocean Racing Club (RORC) became famous for the biennial Fastnet Race and the international team event, the Admiral's Cup. It organises an annual series of domestic offshore races from its base in Cowes as well as inshore regattas including the RORC Easter Challenge and the IRC European Championship (includes the Commodores' Cup) in the Solent
  • The RORC works with other yacht clubs to promote their offshore races and provides marketing and organisational support. The RORC Caribbean 600, based in Antigua and the first offshore race in the Caribbean, has been an instant success. The 10th edition took place in February 2018. The RORC extended its organisational expertise by creating the RORC Transatlantic Race from Lanzarote to Grenada, the first of which was in November 2014
  • The club is based in St James' Place, London, but after a merger with The Royal Corinthian Yacht Club in Cowes now boasts a superb clubhouse facility at the entrance to Cowes Harbour and a membership of over 4,000

At A Glance – RORC 

RORC Race Enquiries:

Royal Ocean Racing Club T: +44 (0) 1983 295144 E: [email protected] W: http://www.rorc.org/

Royal Ocean Racing Club:

20 St James's Place, London SW1A 1NN, Tel: 020 7493 2248 E: [email protected] 

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