Ireland's sailing, boating & maritime magazine

afloat headers RORC

Displaying items by tag: RORC Caribbean 600

Fresh from their third-place finish in the RORC Caribbean 600’s multihull class and multiple training laps around the island of Antigua itself, the seven-strong The Famous Project crew — which includes Ireland’s own Pamela Lee and Joan Mulloy — have now embarked on their first all-female ocean passage across the Atlantic, heading to Portimao, Portugal on their MOD70 The Famous Project Limosa.

As they build up towards their 2025 all-female challenge for the Jules Verne Trophy, when they will sail the record-holding Ultim IDEC Sport, this transatlantic passage is an important stage in training up the team, strengthening cohesion and building skills over an extended period on the flighty, fast 70-foot trimaran which needs to be sailed ‘on the edge’ to achieve the best performance.

The seven strong team comprises co-skippers Alexia Barrier (FRA) and Dee Caffari (GBR) along with Pamela Lee and Joan Mulloy (IRL), Annie Lush (GBR), Annemieke Bes (NED) and Deborah Blair (GBR). Media woman is Muriel Vandenbempt.

With a week of recovery, boat work and further training behind them, the debrief from the RORC Caribbean 600 is extremely positive.

The team for the 600-mile race, which passes 11 islands on a 12-leg figure-8 course this time included specialist coaches Jack Bouttell, Miles Seddon and Tom Dawson.

Their elapsed time of 1 day, 10 hours, 16 minutes and 46 seconds for the course was just two hours and two minutes behind Multihull class winner Argo. The Limosa team were in touch for much of the race but lost out towards the end.

The Famous Project Limosa finished third in the Multihull class in the RORC Caribbean 600 in Antigua last week | Credit: RORC/Alex TurnbullThe Famous Project Limosa finished third in the Multihull class in the RORC Caribbean 600 in Antigua last week | Credit: RORC/Alex Turnbull

Co-skipper Dee Caffari enthuses: “What a race! It was intense, it was awesome. In terms of a training platform for what the team wants to do it was perfect, it really was.

“There were lots of corners, lots of sail changes, every point of sail. There was constant action, always something happening. Every hour or couple of hours there was something. And to do all that and end up only a couple of hours behind the other two MOD70s is good. We could see them for most of the race and we know where we with different mistakes we made. But it was nice to finally be in the race with everybody again.”

In terms of the practical, hard-learning gains, Caffari says: “There is now a lot more confidence in the driving and the trimming, and a lot more trust in each other. Also just understanding how dynamic the trim on these boats is in order to just drive in a straight line, because you are literally on the edge all the time. And it costs you so much when you fall off that ‘edge’ and have to rebuild again.

“The boys did a really good job with the training leading up to it. I came off the helm having driven at a constant 30 knots for an hour and I would not have been able to do that without the training we had before the race. So we really moved forwards.”

With the big boat, the Ultim, due for a May launch, the race is on to get a core team up to speed and this transatlantic from the Caribbean to Portugal, followed by a training passage continuing on to their Mediterranean base in La Grande Motte, is an essential keystone in this training and learning block. Until now they have had the likes of Bouttell, Sidney Gavignet and others on board to fast track the learning. Now it is time to go do it themselves.

Figaro veteran Joan Mulloy is one of two Irish women on the all-female crew of The Famous ProjectFigaro veteran Joan Mulloy is one of two Irish women on the all-female crew of The Famous Project

Caffari, who is running the boat while project captain Alexia Barrier takes responsibility for navigating, says: “For the first time we won’t have the safety net of the guys on the boat with all the experience, all the miles they have on the boat with us. So it will be good to be taking that step.

“And also we are moving into that mode now where Alexia and I, having that bit more experience, are bringing more people forwards with confidence, that will really build our confidence as well.”

The main objectives are seeing and sailing with different crew and upskilling them. Caffari says: “It is a little bit of having new people sail the boat with us, it is a little bit of ‘we can do this’ because until now it has been, ‘well they only sail with the guys on board’, and we don’t actually need them to sail the boat but it is good to have them to fast track the learning and keep up the intensity. Now we have to generate that ourselves.”

Caffari and the girls are not really relishing the weather, not least the return to chilly, windy Europe: “The weather looks a lot of upwind sailing. I think that is what it is and it does make it a little bit safer, we are not in that downwind danger zone very often. But finding the right sea state and keeping in the right modes will be the key to keeping the boat going.”

Splitting the roles into the defined responsibilities is also a ‘next step’ in the process.

“Alexia is learning to be a team player asshe is so used to being a solo sailor on her Vendée Globe set up and so I am here helping with that, I have been through that transition, keeping the communication flow going. Clear, concise communication is key, everyone using the same kind of language, especially as we have different nationalities onboard, especially when people are tired,” Caffari says.

Pamela Lee, an experienced transatlantic sailor, will lend her technical expertise to The Famous Project’s Jules Verne Trophy campaignPamela Lee, an experienced transatlantic sailor, will lend her technical expertise to The Famous Project’s Jules Verne Trophy campaign

Along with Joan Mulloy, 35-year-old Pamela Lee is one of the two Irish sailors on board for the Transat. Lee has more than 10 transatlantics under her belt including one on a Ocean 50 multihull, as well as the most recent Transat Jacques Vabre race on a Class 40. She is taking time off from helping prepare the giant Ultim near her base in Lorient and aims to be one of the key technical expert ‘fixers’ on board for the Jules Verne.

Lee sailed the MOD70 during a training week in the Med last spring and is looking forwards to this new oceanic challenge, her first time — she realises — with an all-female crew.

After her first training days in Antigua, she notes: “Day to day everyone is so down to earth, just professional sailors doing a good job, it is amazing we are just all sailors who love sailing and love what we do.

“This feels like such a big opportunity and I just want to make the very most of it. I want to learn as much as I can and bring my best ‘sailorself’ to it every day. Don’t get me wrong, there is no competitive feeling there but there will be a team selection, sometime. But meantime for me it’s be focused, be humble and be myself.”

Lee adds: “And it is the first time I have sailed with an all-girls group. But the funny thing about that is the penny has just kind of dropped. I have not been thinking in those terms at all, we are all sailors doing what we love, it is so natural. But it just feels like going sailing, there is no crusade here, even if it will be the first time an all-female crew have sailed a MOD70 across the Atlantic.”

Published in Women in Sailing

The fourth day of the RORC Caribbean 600, Thursday 22 February, decided the class winners for IRC Zero in the early hours, the Class40 division in the afternoon, and just before midnight the IRC One champions crossed the finish line.

IRC Zero

Niklas Zennström’s Carkeek 52 Rán (SWE) won a highly contested battle in the hi-tech class. Peter & David Askew’s Botin 52 Wizard (USA) was second by just three minutes and 10 seconds after IRC time correction. Third was Frederic Puzin’s Ker 46 Daguet 3 (FRA), just seven minutes after IRC time correction ahead of Jon Desmond’s Mills 41 Final Final (USA).

Niklas Zennström was delighted with the class win; tinged with a little frustration at just missing out on the overall win to Leopard 3 by under two hours after IRC time correction. “We did as much as we could; we sailed a really good race and Steve (Hayles) and Bouwe (Bekking) made very good calls. The end was a bit of an odd feeling. It was pitch black at Redonda with a big cloud overhead that we could not avoid. We lost all speed and watched Wizard close the gap unaffected, so hanging on to beat them was a bit of a relief."

Niklas Zennström’s Team on his Carkeek 52 Rán (SWE) Photo: William SimpsonNiklas Zennström’s Team on his Carkeek 52 Rán (SWE) Photo: William Simpson

“Once you step ashore and think about it, you ask yourself; did we sail as good as we could? Did we make any stupid mistakes? The answer is that we sailed well, but sometimes you are on the wrong side of a cloud and sometimes not; that is part of the sport. Did we have a good time? Absolutely, you have to play your strategy well and as far as luck goes, eventually that will even out.

“What we are always looking for in any race is to have really great competition, particularly boats of similar size and speed, and we had that with the Nelson’s Cup and the ‘600. The boat has been very reliable and we have raced well as a team, so this has been a great project for the Nelson’s Cup and RORC Caribbean 600 Race. If we could race again tomorrow, we probably would, that is how good this race is,” concluded Zennström.

Rán (SWE) at St Barths Photo: Tim WrightRán (SWE) at St Barths Photo: Tim Wright

Peter & David Askew’s Botin 52 Wizard and Rán at the start Photo: Alex TurnbullPeter & David Askew’s Botin 52 Wizard and Rán at the start Photo: Alex Turnbull

Frederic Puzin’s Ker 46 Daguet 3 (FRA) Photo: Tim WrightFrederic Puzin’s Ker 46 Daguet 3 (FRA) Photo: Tim Wright


Sogestran Seafrigo LHOR One (FRA), skippered by Guillaume Pirouelle won a nail-biting thriller. Melwin Fink’s Sign for Com (GER) was second and third was James McHugh’s Tquila (GBR).

A fierce battle for supremacy came to a conclusion after three days and nights of boat-on-boat combat around 11 Caribbean islands. James McHugh’s Manuard Mach 4 Tquila took the early lead against boats with over four years of additional design development. LHOR One, a 2023 Manuard Mach 5 showed great speed on the reach up to Barbuda after the start, as did Mathieu Jones’ Manuard Mach 5 Alternative Sailing - Constructions du Belon.

Tquila held off the pack to be first to round Nevis and Saba. A tactical leg on the wind to St Barths saw Tquila and LHOR One break away from the pack, with Tquila just hanging on to pole position all the way to the Anguilla Channel. On approach to Tintamarre, LHOR One stayed further south and got into the lead and extended on the long leg to Guadeloupe.

As the wind shadow of Guadeloupe came into play, LHOR One chose to stay offshore. Tquila went all the way in and passed LHOR One. The chasing pack, still in the breeze, closed in on the leaders. On the leg to Barbuda for the second rounding, Tquila chose to stay inshore rather than the competition which went as far as 15 miles offshore looking for breeze. Tquila won that strategic battle in spades, opening up a lead of four miles.

Sogestran Seafrigo LHOR One (FRA), skippered by Guillaume Pirouelle Photo: Tim WrightSogestran Seafrigo LHOR One (FRA), skippered by Guillaume Pirouelle Photo: Tim Wright

By Redonda, Tquila was leading LHOR One by over half an hour. Jules Bonnier’s Manuard Mach 3 Nestenn - Entrepreneurs pour la Planète was up to third, but nearly an hour behind Tquila. The stage was set for a shifty light airs final leg to the finish. Approaching Antigua, Tquila threw the dice; after leading the pack south of the rhumb line, Tquila went north and the chasing boats chose the shortest route to the finish. Melwin Fink’s 2022 Verdier Sign for Com (GER) got into the showdown, but Tquila’s move north did not pay off.

There was a final twist to the thrilling Class40 battle; Nestenn crossed the line first but was penalised for entering an exclusion zone at Montserrat. Second over the line and Class40 victory went to Sogestran Seafrigo LHOR One, with Sign for Com second and Tquila third.

James McHugh’s Tquila (GBR) Photo: Tim WrightJames McHugh’s Tquila (GBR) Photo: Tim Wright

Melwin Fink’s Sign for Com (GER) Photo: Tim WrightMelwin Fink’s Sign for Com (GER) Photo: Tim Wright

Jules Bonnier’s Manuard Mach 3 Nestenn - Entrepreneurs pour la Planète Photo: Tim WrightJules Bonnier’s Manuard Mach 3 Nestenn - Entrepreneurs pour la Planète Photo: Tim Wright

Sogestran Seafrigo LHOR One (FRA) Team - Pierrick Letouzé Valentin Sipan, Alexis Loison, Guillaume Pirouelle Photo: Tim WrightSogestran Seafrigo LHOR One (FRA) Team - Pierrick Letouzé Valentin Sipan, Alexis Loison, Guillaume Pirouelle Photo: Tim Wright

“We are all from Normandy in France and very proud to have won this great race,” commented LHOR One’s skipper Guillaume Pirouelle. “This project is designed to give experience to Class40 sailors from Normandy and all of the crew come from either Cherbourg or Le Havre. This has been a very hard race on the mind. The course is fantastic with so many options which allows for many gains and losses throughout.”

Rolex Fastnet winner Alexis Loison has competed in the race before but this was his first in a Class40. “The course tests the boats and crew at every wind angle, which is a great way to get a lot of knowledge about the boat and how to achieve the manoeuvres,” commented Loison. “I think that this race and the Caribbean season in general is a great place to base a Class40 programme because you have great sailing conditions literally guaranteed for may months.”

Richard Fromentin’s JPK 1180 Cocody (FRA) victorious in IRC One Photo: Tim WrightRichard Fromentin’s JPK 1180 Cocody (FRA) victorious in IRC One Photo: Tim Wright


Richard Fromentin’s JPK 1180 Cocody (FRA) won the class by over four hours from Andrew & Sam Hall’s Lombard 46 Pata Negra (GBR). Last year’s class champion, Dan Litchfield’s Nielsen 59 Hound (USA) was just over an hour behind Pata Negra after IRC time correction.

Cocody was the class winner and second overall for the RORC Transatlantic Race, but the RORC Caribbean 600 was very different as Richard Fromentin explains:

“This was a very technical race, because there were a lot of traps everywhere,” commented Fromentin. “The island wind shadows and the weather conditions made the race very complex, but it was still a very beautiful race and a lot of fun.”

For the first 24 hours of the race Cocody was locked in a battle with two other JPK 1180s; Sunrise powered by Zen (AUS) and Dawn Treader (GBR). “We managed to get ahead of the other two JPK 1180s and the more we got ahead, the more the weather changes went into our advantage. This was the first race for all the team, except for Jean Pierre Dick who knows the course very well and without his expertise it would have been very difficult for us to win. In many ways, this race is similar to our home in Brittany; in coastal races we have to understand the land effects just as here!”

Richard Fromentin’s Team on his JPK 1180 Cocody (FRA) Photo: Tim WrightRichard Fromentin’s Team on his JPK 1180 Cocody (FRA) Photo: Tim Wright

Third in IRC One - Dan Litchfield’s Nielsen 59 Hound (USA) Photo: Tim WrightThird in IRC One - Dan Litchfield’s Nielsen 59 Hound (USA) Photo: Tim Wright

 Second in IRC One - Andrew & Sam Hall’s Lombard 46 Pata Negra (GBR) Photo: Tim Wright Second in IRC One - Andrew & Sam Hall’s Lombard 46 Pata Negra (GBR) Photo: Tim Wright

On day five of the RORC Caribbean 600, Friday, 23 February, 11 boats were still racing. At 0800 AST, nearly all of the boats were east of Antigua, reaching towards the Barbuda Mark. After IRC time correction and on the water the class leaders in IRC Two were Peter McWhinnie’s JPK 1080 In Theory (USA) followed by Gavin Howe’s Sun Fast 3600 Tigris (GBR) and Katy Campbell’s Salona 45 Panacea X (CAN).

Published in Caribbean 600
Tagged under

Antigua Yacht Club is buzzing with excitement as the 15th edition of the RORC Caribbean 600 approaches. With less than two days to go, conversations around the dock revolve around one topic - the weather. For weeks, the tradewinds have been elusive, but now, there's a window of opportunity developing for the faster monohulls in the race, and the multihulls could potentially break records too.

Jason Carroll's MOD70 Argo (USA) holds the Multihull Race Record, which was set in 2022, with a time of 01 day 05 hrs 48 mins 45 secs. This year, three MOD70s are favourites for Multihull Line Honours - Argo, Erik Maris' Zoulou, and Alexia Barrier's Limosa. Argo's Brian Thompson has high hopes for the team this year. 

Thompson said, "It has been very calm of late, and the sea state is quite low, but the wind is going to start to kick-in late Saturday or Sunday, and maybe we could see 18-20 knots for the start, but without the big seas. The wind speed should start dropping maybe Wednesday afternoon (21st February), but Argo will have finished by then, maybe by Tuesday morning (20th February)."

Thompson's routing takes the team right on record pace, and he believes that the conditions could be just right for them to break the record. "One advantage over 2022 is that this year we have more moonlight, which makes it easier on the driving at night," he added.

Chad Corning, another member of the Argo team, said, "A few days ago, we were not looking at record pace, but that has changed; it's possible but really tight. When we set the record in 2022, we had almost perfect conditions, but this year the forecast is not as good. However, since then, we have developed our foils, so the boat is quicker. The key leg for a record is going to be the long leg to Guadeloupe. We need to have the right wind angle to maintain our speed. Having said all that, to set a record, you have to be the first in, and that is a big challenge on its own."

With the anticipation building, the RORC Caribbean 600 promises to be an exciting event, and the Argo team is optimistic about their chances of breaking the multihull race record.

After sustaining rudder damage (but winning the IMA Trophy) in January's RORC Transatlantic Race, the Farr 100 Leopard 3 (MON) will be on the line in the Caribbean 600 Photo: Arthur DanielAfter sustaining rudder damage (but winning the IMA Trophy) in January's RORC Transatlantic Race, the Farr 100 Leopard 3 (MON) will be on the line in the Caribbean 600 Photo: Arthur Daniel

The biggest monohulls in the race are all 100ft or more. The largest boat in the race is the 107ft Wally Spirit of Malouen X (FRA), second largest is the Southern Wind 102ft Egiwave (ITA). The third largest is the Farr 100 Leopard 3 (MON) skippered by Joost Schuijff (with Royal Cork's Tom McWilliam on the crew). The IRC rating of Leopard 3 and Spirit of Malouen X is identical, promising a superb match race for the two boats.

Chris Sherlock on Leopard 3 commented: “We are here for Line Honours but we want the overall win under IRC; we want the whole lot and looking at the weather right now, it’s on. To win anything Leopard has to beat the other 100-footers. In the amount of breeze we are expecting they are both quick boats. If you look at our IRC ratings there is nothing in it with Spirit of Malouen, and Egiwave is also very well sailed. Theoretically we should be the strongest boat in reaching conditions, so Leopard would love plenty of that. In 15-18 knots the others might be quicker. More wind speed and reaching would suit Leopard, especially for the long leg down to Guadeloupe.”

Leopard 3 navigator Will Best was slightly more conservative: “It is still three days before the start, and the timing of the change in the weather is difficult to predict. Right now, I am expecting 14 to 15 knots of breeze at the start and more easterly than of late. Leopard should have that wind direction and decent wind speed until we get as far around the course as Guadeloupe. Then we could see a change in conditions to our advantage over the slower boats behind; the wind should start to decrease and maybe go more to the south.”

Laurent Pages is tactician on the 31m Green Marine Spirit of Malouen X (FRA) Photo: James MitchellLaurent Pages is tactician on the 31m Green Marine Spirit of Malouen X (FRA) Photo: James Mitchell

The 107ft Wally Spirit of Malouen X (FRA) crewed by the Paprec Sailing Team and skippered by Stephane Neve, has Laurent Pages as tactician, taking part in his ninth race: “The timing of the change in the weather is going to have a big effect on the outcome of the race,” commented Pages. “It is a little early to predict at the moment but VMG angles, especially 12 knots or less, will be very good for us. Over 15 knots and reaching angles will favour Leopard. Let us wait and see what the weather has to hold.”

Steve Hayles is the navigator on Niklas Zennstrom’s Carkeek 52 Rán (SWE). “I think we could see maybe as much as 20 knots at the start, but I agree with Will (Best – Leopard 3), it’s looking like a big boat race,” said Hayles. “The tradewinds should establish the day before the start. By Wednesday night the low pressure near Cuba will start to disturb the tradewinds for the boats still racing, so for me it’s definitely good for the big boats. In terms of winning our class, the more reaching and stability sailing we get will be good for Rán. Wizard is the second highest IRC rated boat and we give them a bit of time. If its upwind and downwind legs, they are about the same speed as us.”

Niklas Zennstrom’s Carkeek 52 Rán (SWE) was the RORC Morgan Cup Race Victory in 2023 Photo: Tim WrightNiklas Zennstrom’s Carkeek 52 Rán (SWE) was the RORC Morgan Cup Race Victory in 2023 and Cork's Justin Slattery is onboard for the C600 Photo: Tim Wright

In the Class40 Division it is unlikely that any team will finish before Wednesday 21st February when the breeze is expected to go lighter. This could create a slow finish but a very strategic situation. Picking the right angle of attack and finding the breeze lanes will be the key to success. A close slow-mo finish for the Class40 crown is on the cards. What is more, the scow-bow modern designs might not be as effective in light airs as the older generation boats.

Alexis Loison is racing on Cédric Chateau’s Manuard Mach 5 Class40 LHOROne (FRA), which has a scow-bow and one of the latest designs in the race. “We hope to get a good start, because it is likely that the boats behind may be able to catch up as the wind goes lighter, later in the week,” commented Loison. “It is too early to say at the moment, but our average prediction is that the change to light winds may come as we are approaching Guadeloupe, so that will make that part of the course even more interesting than usual. Whether you are a scow bow or traditional, it will not matter then; the teams that find the wind will get the advantage.”

Alexis Loison is on board Manuard Mach 5 Class40 LHOROne (FRA) which is the latest evolution of Manuard's Class40, a competitor in the 2023 Route du Rhum Photo: Arthur DanielAlexis Loison is on board Manuard Mach 5 Class40 LHOROne (FRA) which is the latest evolution of Manuard's Class40, a competitor in the 2023 Route du Rhum Photo: Arthur Daniel

The XP-50 DNR is the highest rated boat in IRC One, skippered by Nikki Henderson. Marcus Cholerton-Brown is one of the professionals on board who has competed in the RORC Caribbean 600 numerous times: “We have a crew that is new to the boat and the race, so we are putting in plenty of practise before the start, including night sailing,” commented Cholerton-Brown. “Getting into tradewind sailing will be great for the early part of the race and when it starts to go light, keeping the boat moving is going to be very important, so we are practising those drills as much as possible.”

For the lower IRC rated boats, the weather forecast is looking like creating a race of ‘two halves.’ Solid pressure early on should give the teams great speed. By day three, the wind is expected to soften considerably which could create a slower pace, especially approaching Guadeloupe.

The weather predictions are suggesting that it is a big boat race for the overall win under IRC. However, winning IRC class is the first goal. A variety of wind angles and wind speeds suggest that a good all-round boat that gets the strategy spot on and perfects boat handling, should be in the chocolates for a class win. The good news for the tail-enders is that the wind is expected to pick up on Friday 23rd February, which will be a god-send to make the superb RORC Caribbean 600 prize giving at the Antigua Yacht Club.

Published in Caribbean 600
Tagged under

Competitors will have to wait until 21 February 2022 to take part in the Caribbean's only offshore race - the RORC Caribbean 600 - after the RORC announced the cancellation of the 13th edition due to the pandemic

After much discussion internally and after consultation with the Government of Antigua and Barbuda, it was decided that the Royal Ocean Racing Club (RORC) had no option but to cancel the RORC Caribbean 600 due to take place in February.

The escalation in the spread of the new strain of COVID-19 in Europe, the state of lockdown in the UK and concern that a large number of sailors travelling to Antigua could transmit the virus to the Island were all taken into consideration when making this decision. The safety of the population of Antigua, competitors, local volunteers and RORC staff is paramount and the committee felt that this could be compromised if the race was run.

The 2022 RORC Caribbean 600 is scheduled to start on February 21, 2022.

Published in Caribbean 600
Tagged under

Maserati Multi 70 skippered by Giovanni Soldini (ITA) crossed the finish line of the RORC Caribbean 600 at 20:49:00 AST on Tuesday 19 February 2019 in an elapsed time of 1 day, 06 hours 49 minutes and 00 seconds, taking Multihull Line honours and setting a new Multihull Race Record in the 11th edition of the race; beating the previous record by just over one hour.

The extraordinary events surrounding the battle for Multihull Line Honours will be remembered for years to come. Just 48 hours before the start of the 2019 RORC Caribbean 600, Jason Carroll's MOD 70 Argo (USA) capsized at high speed in training. It seemed impossible that Argo would be racing, but after a monumental effort by the sailing community in Antigua, Argo's crew and shore team, Argo miraculously made the impossible a reality.

On the day of the race start, Giovanni Soldini agreed to a two hour delay at Argo's request. An epic match race was to follow over 600 miles around 11 Caribbean islands, racing day and night, both multihulls recording over 30 knots of boat speed. At Redonda, the final island of the course, Argo made a great tactical move to close the gap on Maserati and an intense match race provided the final twist to this fantastic story. Soldini's Maserati held off Argo to win by just over seven minutes, after 30 hours of explosive action. Both Maserati and Argo broke the race record and the former champion skipper, Lloyd Thornburg congratulated both skippers on their achievements as they arrived back on the dock in Antigua.

"It was amazing that this race even happened. It was the first time in history that a multihull so big came back from a capsize like that - incredible. I was very happy to agree to delay that start, to race against one of the best teams in the world," commented Soldini. "We had a wonderful race, very windy, very fast, with very good manoeuvres from both teams. We had some technical problems at Guadeloupe, we could not use our Solent for five hours and we had a small problem with one rudder, but it was a great fight. After Guadeloupe we could see Argo all the time and they were getting bigger and bigger with our problems, but we had a good lead and we kept calm and solved the problem. From Redonda to the finish we used classic match racing, trying to keep ourselves between Argo and the finish."

"It was a miracle that we managed to recover the boat without any major damage. We had so many people help us out in Antigua and also from Newport, Rhode Island, and my team worked 24-7 to get the boat back together," commented owner of Argo, Jason Carroll.

"We took it hour-by-hour to see if we could get to a situation that we could race responsibly, and when the sun came up on race day, we were ready to go. The race was awesome. We were a bit disappointed to let Maserati slip away at the beginning, but we came back into them at the end. We wanted to get as much leverage as we could after Redonda. Maserati tacked immediately which is typical for the course, and we headed towards Montserrat, which I think surprised them. We got a reasonable split but they tacked to cover us. After that we tried to separate from them to see if we could make some opportunities. We had been racing for 29 hours and at the end it was pretty close. We gave it 101% even after all those hours of little sleep. This is a great race and Antigua has a great community and the Race Committee and Giovanni were super accommodating for us to make the start. This is an excellent event and I hope to come to many more. Racing Maserati so close at 30 knots of boat speed scares you a bit, but it is very exciting," continued Carroll.

"The race was just perfect with a lot of transitions, good speed, good wind and wonderful islands to go around," commented Francois Gabart. "I only met the Argo crew a few days ago, they are a wonderful crew. This was the first time I have sailed after the Route du Rhum. I love to working with the Macif team, but this race was just perfect to get back to sailing on a fast boat and on a beautiful race course. This has been an adventure and something I will remember for all my life. I am really proud of what this team has done. It was a good experience and I think that a sailor needs to capsize once in his life - I have done it and I hope it is just done and I never do it again!"

"Offshore sailors have to deal with situations that are beyond their control and when we had the capsize, nobody's head went down, we simply worked hard at finding the solutions to get Argo back on the race track. The crew has really bonded through the experience," commented Argo's Brian Thompson

Published in Caribbean 600
Tagged under

The overnight leader, George Sakellaris’s Vrolik-designed Maxi 72 Proteus, is confirmed as winner of the RORC Caribbean 600 at noon today (Thursday) as time runs out for smaller craft still battling against wayward conditions further back along this cat’s cradle of a course writes W M Nixon

Of all the Irish sailors involved, it is RORC Commodore Michael Boyd of the RIYC who is currently showing best in fleet, for although the Grand Soleil 48 Belladonna which he is navigating for Andy McIrvine still has 43 miles to sail to the finish, barring accidents they could find themselves sitting on 11th overall with an excellent class place when they get to Antigua.

Adrian Lee’s Cookson 50 Lee Overlay Partners may have got herself in the happy position of being 8th overall last night as she was making good speed at 14 knots, but by the time she finished after 3 days 11 hours and 52 minutes for the 617 miles course, they were back in 16th overall under the general position estimates.

However, in an event with multiple-choice rating systems, Conor Fogerty’s Sunfast 3600 Bam is flying. She’s back in the lead in IRC Class 3, she continues to be second in CSA 2, and though she’s 20th overall in IRC, she’s looking good for silverware in class, even if the Howth crew still have 87 miles to sail.

Fourteen miles ahead of Bam, the other Howth crew with Kieran Jameson & Co on Southern Child had a reasonably good night of it, and though they may be 24th overall in IRC, they’re fourth in IRC 2 and 4th in CSA 2.

But among boats well known to readers, the star of the show has to be Eric de Turkheim of France’s highly individual-looking Commodore’s Cup contender Teasing Machine. She’s one busy boat. He was well in the frame in the recent Sydney-Hobart, and being a 13 metre boat, it was easier to get her shipped quickly from Australia to America than was the case with the hundred foot Comanche, which only arrived at the start with only a day or two to spare. Teasing Machine meanwhile had everything nicely in hand, and now she’s sailed a blinder of an RORC Caribbean 600, sitting well finished in port and firmly placed third overall on the IRC leaderboard in a race which otherwise favoured larger craft.

Published in RORC
Tagged under

#rorc – After starting at Fort Charlotte, the fleet beats to the east and above Green Island in the 2014 edition of this week's RORC Caribbean 600 race. In this vid they crack off and reach to the first mark at Barbuda. Then they gybe towards Nevis and darkness.

Published in Caribbean 600
Tagged under

#sailing – With all the high-profile Irish entries in the RORC Caribbean 600 race falling by the wayside in this year's breezy staging of the sunshine classic, it has been left to two hard-working charter boats to do the business for Ireland, and they've done us proud.

Appropriately, both boats are owned by people who are involved with the wind energy business. The bigger of the two, the Farr-designed 100ft Cape Arrow which has placed 13th overall, is owned and managed by Tuskar Shipping, which is in turn owned by Fastnet Shipping, a Waterford company which is run by Sinead and Trevor O'Hanlon and specialises in servicing the offshore wind industry.

Cape Arrow is professionally skippered by Andrea Balzarini. But the other Irish front runner, the 76ft Lilla which has won Class 1 and placed 8th overall, has owner Simon de Pietro of Kinsale YC very much hands-on as skipper, while his wife Nancy is the navigator. They demonstrated their joint skills last year by winning overall in the cruiser division in the biennial Newport-Bermuda Race, but this time round they'd their boat going so well they had the class win in the open division.

Both of them maintain close ties with Ireland. Her people are from Sligo, while his mother lives near Buttevant in County Cork and is co-director of the Buttevant-based family firm, DP Energy. The company is in the forefront of wind harnessing technology, and is also at the heart of the major project to install a huge tidal farm with multiple turbines in the ferocious streams which run off Islay in the southwest Scottish Hebrides, with the turbines being serviced from Northern Ireland.

That particular challenge would be enough for most people, but as well they manage Lilla as an active charter boat, fitting their occasional races around an active working programme when the boat is skippered in choice cruising locations by Ian Martin. It's a busy life, and there's extra interest in that Lilla is now something of a classic – she was built in Bordeaux in 1993 in aluminium to a Philipppe Briand design. Thus the win in Class 1 in the Caribbean 600 made for a nice 20th birthday present for a boat which is still as good as new, and very elegant with it.

The annual sprint around the islands with the Caribbean 600 provides an opportunity for some of the biggest sailing charter boats to show how they can go like the clappers if given the chance, and it provided some intriguing results even if the prime positions were largely as predicted. Thus the line honours winner as expected was Mike Slade's 100ft Leopard, though she was five hours outside the record time set by George David's Rambler 100 in 2011, which was a decidedly mixed year for that big boat, as by mid-August she was upside down off Barley Cove with her keel gone AWOL in the Fastnet Race.

On corrected time, again as expected it was a battle between Hap Fauth's Judel Vrolik 72 Bella Mente and Ron O'Hanley's Cookson 50 Privateer, with the latter having a well-deserved win by 22 minutes. So that's all right, then. But maybe the real story is when we delve into the other boat times, and note that the schooner Adela placed third overall on IRC, and finished just half an hour after the out-and-out racing machine Privateer.

Adela is a massively big - as in enormous - 180ft steel-built schooner, designed by Djikstra and built by Pendennis in Falmouth in 1995. To blast round the course in a machine like this in a way which enables her to sail up to her rating with such impressive style is just a fantastic achievement by skipper Greg Perkins.

Admittedly when you see Adela out of the water, it's to realize she's not so much a wolf in sheep's clothing as a cheetah in haute couture. Above the waterline, she's all sweeping counter and elegant clipper bow, but below it she's a workmanlike fin and skeg profile which really does give her performance a lot of oomph.

Even so, the loads which a boat this size imposes on her sails, rig and equipment is something which can only be partially measured electronically. There's a huge element of experienced judgment in driving her to the limit without seriously breaking something, and to do it round a course like this which involves frequent directional changes shows skill of a very high order. So let's hear it for the big steel lady.

And spare a thought for those who dropped out. The 100ft Liara skippered by Peter Metcalf from Northern Ireland hadn't got very far from the breezy start when her mast came down, while damage to both the 78ft Whisper (Mark Dicker) and the First 40 Lancelot II (Michael Boyd, Niall Dowling and John Cunningham) likewise saw them under the DNF category. As for the storm-battered Irish-owned Swan 48 Wolfhound which was registered DNS, she may still be out there somewhere around 70 miles north of Bermuda. Her crew were taken off in a severe storm by a ship which heard their EPIRB, but when last seen in atrocious sea conditions, Wolfhound was still afloat.


Those crusty old Dublin Bay salts who have been dumping big time on this blog for our enthusiasm for the Dublin Bay 21s in their original gaff-rigged form, bashing us with their negative memories of near-sinkings and actual sinkings and hellships that generated lee helm when the mainsheet was let fly in strong winds, they may well think we've retired hurt from the fray. Not a bit of it. We've only been re-arming. Now we'll let them have it with both barrels.

What on earth do they think the original owners had in mind when they ordered the boats in the first place? Were they looking for comfortable little cruisers to doddle around the bay? Not a bit of it. They were looking for boats suitable for wild sportsmen, not for boats approved of by conservative seaman.

Of course the Dublin Bay 21s were demanding and difficult and sometimes dangerous to sail. That was what it was all about. There's no sport in safety. And of course they were hard work, and an ergonomic disaster area in terms of ease of handling. That's the way life was in 1902, and the ways of the sea were supposed to be harder than the cosseted life ashore. So let's take a look at another photo of a Dublin Bay 21 under her original gaff rig with jackyard tops'l, and see why they represented such an awful but irresistible challenge.

SailSat230213pic 2

In steady conditions, the Dublin Bay 21 under full sail was manageable, but she provided a real challenge when sailed hard in a blow.

The photo must have been taken in the late 50s, with the boat setting what was to become her last suit of gaff sails. Though they're bearing up reasonably well, a certain bagginess would exacerbate any helming faults. The tiller is well across, suggesting marked weather helm, but don't forget the rudder was well raked, which exaggerated the appearance of the amount of helm necessary, and as the boats aged there was increasing flexibility – to put it mildly - in the connection between rudderhead and tiller.

Thus basically the boat is quite reasonably well balanced. But imagine what happens if a sudden squall strikes. As our old salts have pointed out, the narrow side deck means that the Dublin Bay 21s start to fill with Dublin Bay through the non-self-draining cockpit quite quickly. The mainsheet must be eased as quickly as possible. The ergonomics are terrible, with the mainsheet controlled from cleats outside the cockpit coaming, so a lot of the time in a sudden wind increase the mainsheet – with its tails in a jumble below – is simply let fly, thereby immediately and completely altering the balance of the boat. It would defy all the laws of centre of effort and centre of lateral resistance if she didn't suddenly develop marked lee helm.

So the skill lay in controlling the easing of the mainsheet, one helluva challenge when you're up to your armpits in the cold ocean in ancient oilskins, and everyone is falling over everyone else. And as for suggesting the side-decks should be made wider, that would only make the cramped cockpit even more crowded. But with a skilled helmsman and an even more skilled mainsheet man, preferably of superhuman strength, it could be kept under control, for basically as our second picture shows, it wasn't an inherent fault in the shape of the boat which caused wild fluctuations in balance, but rather a severe temporary imbalance of the sails.

SailSat230213pic 3
Under shortened rig of full main and jib, but with no tops'l or staysail set, this Dublin Bay 21 in a strong wind is showing marked but controllable weather helm, while the shape of her hull when heeled shows that it is inherently quite well balanced, without excessive fullness of the waterlines aft to distort steering characteristics.

Another topic which came up with the COS brigade (Crusty Old Salts) was the usefulness or otherwise of the topsails. A topsail is only as useful as the quality of its set, and if it isn't perfectly set up to become one with the main, then it can sometimes be worse then useless.

But as our final photo clearly shows, the luff of the Dublin Bay 21s tops'l was actually longer than the luff of the gaff mainsail. And it's the luff length that does the work in going to windward - it's worth remembering that in the great days of gaff rig racing with the big class, the top skippers were so certain of the need for luff length in windward ability that in heavy weather when they reefed the gaff mainsails, they then set up a jib-headed tops'l above the reefed sail in order to maximise luff length within the smaller sail area.

SailSat230213pic 4
The luff of the jackyard tops'l in a Dublin Bay 21 was slightly longer than the luff length of the mainsail itself, so in sailing to windward, when luff length is at its most important, a well-setting tops'l made a significant difference.

But the problem with a topsail is that if it doesn't click perfectly into place at the first attempt, sometimes it takes for ever to get it right. So with the pace of life becoming more hurried as Ireland entered the 1960s, the time no longer seemed to be available to set up the complete Dublin Bay 21 gaff rig just to go out for an evening race, and the Howth 17s today don't permit topsails for evening club racing.

Back in 1963, when the Dublin Bay 21 crowd were arguing the merits of changing over to Bermuda rig, one of the points in favour of the change was the time it would save. That great sailor and Dublin Bay 21 enthusiast Cass Smullen said this was stuff and nonsense, and claimed he could set up the complete gaff rig of the Dublin Bay 21 in 25 minutes single-handed. So one of the boats was moored just in front of the National YC, and a crowd gathered, drinks in hand, to watch Cass take on the challenge. He did the job in 21 minutes. But they still changed to Bermuda rig.


My apologies to Ivan Nelson (see comment at the end of last week's blog – Ed) for the ham-fisted use of English in discussing last week how a Kerry currach – a naomhog from the Dingle Peninsula – came to be sailing to Iona with the first bible in Irish for delivery to the sacred archives there. The bible was of course translated into Irish in 1602 (Old Testament) and again in 1680 (New Testament). We all remember it well. But somehow neither of these translations had ever found its way to Iona, so it was a first in that sense.

Anyway, it's thanks to the crew of Harry Whelehan's 32ft Sea Dancer out of Howth that we got to know of this Kerry voyage, which was done very low key, and in easy stages. Easy stages, that is, if you think it's easy taking a currach all the way up the west coast of Ireland and then past Malin Head and on to Iona.

SailSat230213pic 5
The Kerry currach delivering the Irish bible to Iona last summer completed the voyage in true Christian spirit, with no designated skipper. Photo: Mark Tierney

SailSat230213pic 6
It wasn't all swanning along under sail. In order to get from Ventry to Iona, they often had to pull with a will. Photo: Mark Tierney

The crew of Breanndan Begley, Anne Bourke, Danny Sheehy and Liam Holden did the voyage in three stages over three summers, and in such a spirit of Christian goodwill that the crew of Sea Dancer were unable to tell who if any was the skipper. But the Kerry folk did what they set out to do, then rowed around a few more Scottish islands before heading south, eventually getting to Wicklow. We look forward to hearing about their completion of the circuit of Ireland this summer.


Thursday nights won't be quite the same now. The six part series on TG4 by Donncha mac Coniomaire and his two shipmates (one of them his father Tomas) about their voyage along the Celtic seaways to Orkney southabout round Ireland from Connemara in the 47ft Galway hooker Naomh Bairbre has come to a successful conclusion. But it certainly shortened the winter watching this demanding ship and her engaging crew making their way to diverse ports which acquired added interest when viewed through the Irish Gaelgoir lens.

Mostly it drew pleasantly to a close as all good cruises do. But there were a few sad moments n the final epiode when they sailed up to Derry to pay their respects to the Galway Hooker An Lady Mor. Donncha had worked in a successful cross-community restoration project on this historic boat back in 2006, and the restoration team then sailed her from the Foyle to Connemara and back when the job was done. But now she lies abandoned and purposeless, ashore in Derry docks, deteriorating rapidly. She could be restored if somebody took action now – I can remember a successful restoration on the same vessel in the mid 1980s by Mick Hunt in Howth. Can't something be done now for An Lady Mor in Derry's year as City of Culture?

SailSat230213pic 7

Can she be restored in the City of Culture? An Lady Mor, seen here being launched in Howth in 1985 after restoration by Mick Hunt, is urgently in need of restoration again, this time on the banks of the Foyle. Photo: W M Nixon

Comment on this story?

We'd like to hear from you on any aspect of this blog!  Leave a message in the box below or email William Nixon on [email protected]

Published in W M Nixon

#caribbean600 – Peter Aschenbrenner's 63ft trimaran Paradox from California was first to finish in the RORC Caribbean 600 this morning at 03.22.53 local time, but missed the course record of 40:11:52 set by the ORMA 60 Region Guadeloupe in the 2009 race by just 11 minutes and 47 seconds writes WM Nixon.

Among the mono-hulls, Mike Slade's 100ft Leopard is the front runner on the water, but on IRC - as predicted here on Saturday - the competition is developing between Ron O'Hanley's Cookson 50 Privateer and Hap Fauth's JV 72 Bella Mente.

The fresh conditions which saw Paradox streaking away like a rocket from the start line off Antigua has made mayhem with Irish hopes. The Peter Metcalf-skippered 100ft Liara was dismasted shortly after starting, and while the 78ft Whisper skippered by Mark Dicker made a fine start, she is now recorded as having retired, as too is the First 40 Lancelot II chartered by Dun Laoghaire's Michael Boyd, Niall Dowling and John Cunningham.

Irish hopes now rest on the 76ft Lilla which won the cruiser division in last year's Bermuda Race, and the 100ft Cape Arrow, both of which are available for charter, but sail under IRL numbers.

RORC add:

Just before dawn, Peter Aschenbrenner's American 63ft Trimaran, Paradox powered through the finish line to complete the 600-mile course in less than two days. Conditions have been fresh to frightening right from the start and there has been no let up for over 500 sailors battling through exciting yet tough conditions. Next to finish will be Mike Slade's British maxi, ICAP Leopard to claim Monohull Line Honours, however ICAP Leopard experienced a slow passage to the south of Guadeloupe, preventing the team from getting near the course record.

Any notion that the RORC Caribbean 600 is a jolly around the Caribbean has been totally dispelled. Warm conditions and spectacular surroundings apart, racing 600 miles in big conditions is taking its toll. Eight yachts have now retired from the race leaving 44 yachts still racing. The majority will not finish for at least another 24 hours if not more.

This year, Guadeloupe Grand Large has entered three Figaro IIs for the race. At 33ft in length and crewed by just four sailors, the Figaro Class can be considered the 'coal face' of short handed sailing for the RORC Caribbean 600.

Skippered by young sailors from Guadeloupe, the teams are taking their first steps towards high aspirations. Two of the Figaros are having a tremendous battle out on the water. At 0700, Arthur Prat and Baptiste Maillot had been virtually sailing side by side for 350 miles and were approaching Guadeloupe. No doubt their local knowledge will give them good speed around their homeland.

The long leg from St Marten down to Guadeloupe has provided joy for some and pain for others as the yachts negotiate through the leeward side of the high mountains on the west side of the island. Hap Fauth's American JV72, Bella Mente approached Guadeloupe yesterday afternoon and compared to their rapid transit down from St.Barths, the race favourites virtually came to a grinding halt.

As Bella Mente struggled for speed, as Filip Balcaen's magnificent Belgian Baltic 112, Nilaya came barrelling down the track closing fast. Nilaya made up an astonishing 40 miles in just a few hours to challenge Bella Mente for the overall lead. Nilaya's cunning move has meant the Belgian yacht is now winning the Superyacht class.

Ron O'Hanley's American Cookson 50, Privateer also caught up and at one stage, Privateer was back on top of the overall leaderboard. However at 0700, Bella Mente had regained the overall lead, with Nilaya and Privateer needing to make up about three hours to prevent Bella Mente taking the RORC Caribbean 600 Trophy.

In IRC One Simon de Pietro's Irish Briand 76, Lilla continues to impress and has now opened up an 8-mile gap on the water to lead the class and has a three hour handicap cushion, but there is still nearly 400 miles to the finish.

Andy Middleton's British Beneteau 47.7, EHO1 have found another gear, showing great pace on the tight reach to Guadeloupe to move up to second in class. Colin Buffin's British Swan 62, Uxorious IV has dropped to third in class, but their extra water-line length should see the British Swan move back up the leaderboard on the reach to the North Sails mark at Barbuda.

In IRC Two at 0700, the entire class were enjoying the tight reach south to Guadeloupe and waterline length has played a big factor on this leg. The Oyster 48 Scarlet Logic, co-skippered by Ross Applebey and Tim Thubron still have the lead in class and on the water and Scarlet Logic is two hours ahead on corrected time. Christian Reynolds' British Swan 53, Northern Child and Joseph Mele's American Swan 44, Triple Lindy both had a great night sail and move up to second and third respectively on corrected time. However, with lighter winds expected around the south side of Guadeloupe, Philippe Falle's, British Grand Soleil 43, Quokka LLYC will be looking to catch their heavy displacement rivals.

In IRC Three, Jonty Layfield's, British J39, Sleeper still lead the class, but Valerio Bardi's Italian Swan 46, Milanto has closed the gap significantly. Adrian Lower's British Swan 44, Selene made the bold move of leaving Montserrat to Port, to take up an offshore approach to Guadeloupe. For now Selene has dropped like a stone on the leaderboard but the move may well pay off later for the British team.

Published in Caribbean 600
Tagged under

#caribbean600 – "This is going to be a fast and fairly tough race," commented RORC CEO, Eddie Warden Owen, prior to the start of the Caribbean 600 race today. "All the teams are aware of the forecast and they know it is going to be breezy and how they handle those conditions will have a big impact on their performance. They will be excited but also apprehensive about the conditions. However, watching the start I have to say it was stunning, sunshine, beautiful warm water, they are all going to have a fantastic race."

A flash of smoke, high above the 'Pillars of Hercules' announced the start of the fifth edition of the RORC Caribbean 600. Before the start 25 knots of trade winds, gusting close to 30, provided feisty conditions. 53 yachts blasted into action, crashing to windward through the surf in the starting area. The international fleet, with crews from 31 nations, set off for the 600-mile race threading through 11 stunning Caribbean islands and the forecast strong winds promises a wild and memorable ride.

First to go were the multihulls. Peter Aschenbrenner's ballistic trimaran, Paradox,chose to start on port and had to dip Austin Hearst's Gunboat 66, Slim. Meanwhile Lloyd Thornburg's Gunboat 66, Phaedo, looked to have a mainsail issue with the crew battling to gain control in 25 knots of brisk trade winds. Phaedo fell behind but quickly rectified the problem and took chase.

The second start had 22 yachts barrelling towards the start line. Joseph Mele's American Swan 44, Triple Lindy, got a cracking start but the bigger yachts soon passed them, notably Christian Reynolds' Swan 53, Northern Child, who went inshore to benefit from a great lift back out to lead on the beat.

Next to go were the Class40s and CSA. Peter Harding's British Class40, 40 Degrees, was over eager and was OCS and had to return to the start line. Christof Petter's Austrian Class40, Vaquita, got away to a flyer at the pin end but Marc Lepesqueux's Sensation headed inshore and tacked back to cross in front of Vaquita. The Class40s are very close in speed and have a great battle in store.

The penultimate start for the Class Zero and Canting Keel was delayed due to the race committee elected to relay the line, which was carried out with great precision.

Mike Slade's Maxi, ICAP Leopard and Hap Fauth's, Mini-maxi Bella Mente got away well, but Leopard's prowess upwind was a telling factor as they rolled Bella Mente to leeward. Heading perilously close to the rocky cliffs, Bella Mente tacked first, releasing Leopard, who tacked right on their line. Dramatic to say the least but more drama was to come. Close behind the 100ft Maxi Liara was dismasted. The crew, all safe and well, motored Liara back to the dock.

Last to go were the Superyachts; Filip Balcaen's 112 ft Baltic, Nilaya was dwarfed by two mighty schooners, Athos and Adela. Nilaya had the line to herself, as Athos and Adela powered to windward on opposite tacks. They made a dramatic backdrop crashing through the waves as they made their way upwind to the turning point at Green Island off the Eastern end of Antigua with Adela crossing ahead of Athos to lead the private battle.

Published in RORC
Tagged under
Page 1 of 2


  • 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