#sailorofthemonth – Simon and Nancy de Pietro of Kinsale Yacht Club are the Afloat.ie Sailors of the Month for February after their convincing win in Class 1 in the RORC Caribbean 600 Race. With strong family links to North Cork and Sligo, they fly the burgee of the popular club on the south coast of Ireland for their successful international sailing programme.
Although their 76ft Philippe Briand-designed Lilla is a much-loved 20-year-old veteran, the high standard of maintenance which is lavished by this enthusiastic sailing couple on their hard-working charter boat shows itself in the consistency of the boat's racing performance in a competitive programme which is fitted around a regular working life on the Caribbean cruise circuit.
The quiet season in the Caribbean is in the summer, and last year saw Lilla avail of summer's opportunity to come north in June and race in the famous biennial Newport-Bermuda Race, which was first sailed in 2006. With Simon as skipper and Nancy as navigator, they won overall in the cruising division. Lilla clearly likes racing to Bermuda, as she has also won overall in another contest to the "onion patch", the annual race from Marion in Massachusetts.
For the start of 2013, Lilla's charter programme was put on hold for a while as she geared up for the new sunshine classic, the RORC Caribbean 600. Although she has relatively shallow draft in order to maximize her cruising choices, she is raced so skillfully that the expected limitations on her windward performance simply don't seem to materialize.
Looking every inch a winner, Lilla comes rocketing out of the start of the Caribbean 600 on Monday February 18th. Photo: RORC/Tim Wright
She came rocketing out of the breezy windward start of the Caribbean 600 off Antigua with a real flourish, and built on success to clinch the Class 1 win and place 8th overall in a very competitive fleet. In a race in which several distinguished competitors dropped out because of weather damage, their result reflects great credit on our new Sailors of the Month.
With sheets slightly eased after weathering Antigua, Lilla starts to power along towards her win. Photo: RORC/Tim Wright
She may be "just a very nice cruising boat", but this is the view most racing competitors get of Lilla. Photo: RORC/Tim Wright