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#COASTAL NOTES - A 17th-century merchant vessel recently discovered off West Cork could have carried Ireland's first coconuts, the Irish Examiner reports.

The shipwreck near Schull was discovered embedded in silt 30ft below the surface by workers laying pipes for the town's new waste treatment plant.

A diving exclusion zone has since been established in the area to protect the site from looters and allow marine archaeologists to investigate the wreck undisturbed.

Coconuts found in the wreck indicate that the vessel was returning to Irish waters from the Caribbean.

Experts are hoping to establish the cause of the shipwreck, which may have been due to dashing against rocks in bad weather.

It is also speculated that the ship went down around the same time of the Sack of Baltimore in 1631, when North African pirates from the Barbary Coast attacked the area, kidnapping hundreds of locals.

The Irish Examiner has more on the story HERE.

Published in Coastal Notes

#Les Voiles de St. Barth – No one said racing in paradise was easy, and on Saturday, the final race day at Les Voiles de St. Barth, crews were again tested with light and variable winds. Tacticians and navigators found it challenging – as did helmsman and trimmers who were looking for any advantage in the changeable conditions.

In the Multihull class, it was Peter Aschenbrenner's Paradox (FRA) that tied with Lloyd Thornburg's Gunboat 66, Phaedo(St. Barth, F.W.I.), and won on countback. Gunboat crew photos below.

Irish Navigator Ian Moore on Gunboat said "....Disappointed not to win the class but a great performance extremely light conditions and a great result for the week against 4 racing trimarans..."

The Nigel Irens-designed 63-footer, with American multihull sailor Cam Lewis on board, a veteran of several round the world multihull campaigns, and who provided local knowledge having been in St. Barth's at the two previous Les Voiles regattas.

But with first place still in play in more than half the classes going into the final race, there was plenty of incentive to maintain concentration. In IRC52, Spinnaker 1, Non-Spinnaker Racing, and Multihull classes, only one point separated the first two positions. Les Voiles de St. Barth Race Committee sent the fleet on an initial upwind beat and then around the western islands including Ile Fourchue. Though after several hours, with the breeze lightning even more and with much of the fleet only halfway around, the race committee elected to shorten the course.

In the Maxi class, George David's 90-foot Rambler (Hartford, Conn.) posted four wins for the week.  David has won the two prior editions of Les Voiles, last year with his former boat, Rambler 100.  The high-tech monohull, built to break ocean records, capsized in dramatic fashion last August off the Fastnet Rock, when the keel snapped off. Many of the crew from the 100-footer were in St. Barth's racing on Rambler this year.

David is a big fan of Les Voiles, "This is a great regatta for a bunch of reasons: it's a beautiful island, and it's a vertical island, so it's scenic to sail around, and you can get some very complicated courses. The race committee does a great job in setting the courses and the breeze can be quite shifty in close to shore, so there are typically lots of turns in this race course.  This week, we had between 20 - 23 mile long races, typically seven legs or so, so lots of crew activity and a lot of opportunity for error."

David described the inner workings of the water-ballasted speedster, "The big advantage we have, especially in lighter air like this, is we can unload the ballast. Two numbers are important: this boat dry displaces 21 tons and then we add six tons of water ballast to it.  Especially in light air conditions, if you can get the boat to float higher and take less power to push it like today, we just slip away. The water ballast is a tremendous advantage.

"Racing is a little bit about luck. It's also about organization and teamwork, and I think that's one place where Ramblerdoes no shy from; it's a mature program, we've been racing together now for six years. And we have more miles on the boat than is typical."

It's a great place to have a regatta, well sponsored, the shore side parties and race committee work is great.  If you talk to all competitors, you'd have to scramble to find a complaint.  It just gets better all the time, but it was a pretty high standard in the first place.

This year an IRC class was added in response to the owners input. The new class proved successful as racing for theIRC52 was close all week with each of the boats, Mayhem, Vesper, and PowerPlay winning a race. Today Jim Swartz'Vesper (USA) took a bullet, but it would be Mayhem (CAN) that posted the best scoreline, to win the class overall.

Skipper Ashley Wolfe has been sailing with her core crew for the past ten years, and onboard in St Barth's were a formidable crew including Ross MacDonald, Charlie McKee, and Mike Mottl.  Wolfe said,  "It was down to pretty much today. The week was fantastic, very tight racing back and forth – it could have been anybody, one day we were first, one day last, the next day second. No mistakes and some luck." Asked about a return visit, Wolfe said, "I've heard there's more breeze other years, so I think I'll come back, but no complaints at all, it was a fabulous regatta!"

Spinnaker 1 class came down to a battle between Frits Bus' Melges 24, Coors Light (St. Maarten) and Sergio Sagramoso's J/122, Lazy Dog (Puerto Rico), which finished tied on six points, with the Dutch boat winning on a countback by virtue of their first place finish today. Ashore before the boats docked out, the wind funneled over the hill in Gustavia giving indications of a possibly breezier day. Bus was not optimistic about their chances against a boat with significantly more waterline in those condition; however, competitors eventually encountered much less wind on the course, which suited the Melges 24 and their crew just fine.

In Spinnaker 2, it was Clay Deutsch's Defiance (Boston, Mass.) that held off Stephen Murray's Carkeek 40, Decision(New Orleans, La.). Deutsch had chartered the Marten 49 for the regatta and sailed the boat with crew from his previous race boat, Chippewa. Deutsch said, "We're absolutely thrilled. Decision got us today, but we have enough points for the week.  It was tough day today, very draining. It was very light and variable, with virtually no sea state, but boy, it was shifty so driving was challenging. And it was hard tactically."

The newly-launched Decision, with tactician Steve Benjamin onboard, pushed Defiance all week. Deutsch said, "Decisiongot away from us early, so we sailed our own race. They were basically our competition, and it was great having them here. It's always more fun when you're really racing someone and you can go at it back and forth. We were in touch with each other all week, no one ever got more than a couple of minutes ahead."

Another first-timer at Les Voiles, he said "We really enjoyed the week, nothing bad happened. I'd love to come back, this was really first class, the race committee did a very good job and the shore side stuff was just fabulous...as only the French can do!"

Non-Spinnaker: Thomas Mullen's J/95, Shamrock VII (Campton, N.H.) just held off Antiguan Bernie Evans-Wong'sHigh Tension. Shamrock came straight from the BVI regatta, where they won their class. Right after finishing, they delivered the boat to St Barth's with barely time to register, let alone practice. Mullen attributed his boat's win to a combination of bad luck for some of their competitors and extraordinarily hard work on part of his crew.

Classic: Matt and Pam Brooks, owners of the Olin Stephens-designed, Dorade (San Francisco, Calif), were delighted to have brought the famous ocean racing yawl to the Caribbean for the first time ever in the boat's 80+ years. Brooks said, "We have learned a lot about how to sail the boat and it has been really fun. Everyday the course was good. Yesterday's round the island race was really challenging because of the varied conditions.  It has really been a lot of fun with good course setting and regatta management. This has been a good warm-up for the boat and crew for the Newport Bermuda Race in June.

The prize giving took place on a stage in the Race Village on the Quai General de Gaulle in Gustavia, with Bruno Magras, President of the Collectivité de Saint-Barthélemy; Ernest Brin, Capitaine of the Port; Sir Peter Harrison, 'godfather' of this year's Les Voiles de St. Barth; Paul Bastard, International Jury Chairman; Marc Grisoli, President of St. Barth Yacht Club; and Francois Tolede, Event Director. Presenting awards to the competitors were Annelisa Gee, Competitions Director, and Kiki Laporte, MC for the evening's activities.

The top three finishers in each of the three classes –  Maxi,  IRC, Classic, Spinnaker 1 & 2, Non-Spinnaker, and Multihull – were presented awards. As overall winner of the Maxi Class, George David, owner and skipper of Rambler 90 was also presented a Richard Mille Calibre RM 028 timepiece.

David enthusiastically offered, "It's great to see the way Les Voiles has grown and progressed. Rambler and Sojana are only Maxis that have done it three years. The event started with 28 boats in 2010, so it's clearly taking off. I think it's going to be one of the great classic regattas in the Caribbean."

Dates for the 2013 Les Voiles de St. Barth have been confirmed for April 8 – 13.

For final results, go to: http://bit.ly/ImPwC2

Published in Racing
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26th February 2012

Caribbean Success for RORC Race

#CARIBBEAN – The fourth edition of the RORC Caribbean 600 hosted by the Antigua Yacht Club was a sensational success. The Caribbean's only offshore yacht race attracted some of the world's most fabulous yachts as well as corinthian entries. 578 sailors from 36 different countries took part in a memorable race. This year, the race attracted a truly international field including a number of world-class Spanish sailors racing on Volvo 70, Gran Jotiti and Swan 56, Clem. There were also a significant number of Russian sailors, no doubt enjoying getting away from the cold Russian winter. Oscar Konyukhov's 90ft Maxi, Med Spirit crewed by amateur Russian and French sailors, put in a great performance against fully professional competition. Anders Nordquist, owner of Swan 90, Nefertiti was taking part in his first ever offshore race and loved every minute of it.

This year, the sailing conditions were more complex than usual and there were epic battles between competing yachts throughout the fleet. During winter, Antigua is home to some of the world's most extraordinary yachts and five yachts over 100 ft entered this year's race. The glorious 214ft Baltic, Hetairos skippered by Vincent Fauquenoy was destined to take line honours, crossing the finish line in Antigua in an elapsed time of 2 days 2 hours 39 minutes and 32 seconds .The monumental ketch was well outside the record time set by Rambler 100 last year, however the international team aboard Hetairos were all smiles as they were greeted by well-wishers and a cacophony of horns from megayachts in Falmouth Harbour.

Hetairos navigator, South African Marc Lagesse modestly admitted to being somewhat surprised to be the first yacht to finish: "I have to say, I am genuinely surprised. I honestly thought that we wouldn't take line honours. From a navigators point of view, I got a few calls not quite right. However, we did have a few decisions work out for us by chance and I would always say it is better to be lucky than good! I really enjoyed this race, an illustrious fleet with great people and a big atmosphere."

Hetairos were pushed hard all the way by George David's 90ft maxi, Rambler. It was not until half way through the race that Hetairos managed to pass Rambler. The all star American team put in a fantastic performance but could not match the pace of an opponent over twice their size.

George David spoke candidly shortly after the race: "It was great to get back in the saddle for a 600-mile race after the Fastnet and to hold out so long against Hetairos. Mick (Harvey) is a great project manager and Norm (David Petersen) is a great Boat Captain and all the Rambler team are just so much fun to sail with."

Niklas Zennstrom's JV72, Rán was the next yacht home, less than an hour behind Rambler to claim the overall win after time correction. Rán's owner and principle helmsman, Niklas Zennstrom looked tired but full of joy after completing a race that he has wanted to do for some time: "The whole of Team Rán have been looking forward to this race for a while. A few of the crew have done the race before but it has been somewhat new territory for us, which is always exciting. It is a complex course, more like a series of coastal races. I think the reason I was attracted to the race so much was that we enjoyed Antigua Sailing Week and the idea of an offshore race in the Caribbean is very appealing. Any 600-mile yacht race is hard but the fantastic conditions make this one even more satisfying. The close reach down to Guadeloupe from St. Barths was very memorable, fast reaching conditions in beautiful surroundings, some of the best sailing you can imagine."

The multihull record for the RORC Caribbean 600 has not been beaten since the inaugural race in 2009. The 63' Trimaran, Paradox, skippered by Olivier Vigoureux won this year's race in the multihull class but failed to better Region Guadeloupe's course record. However, Paradox did set an unofficial speed record with a ballistic 30 minutes run at night past Montserrat, close to 30 knots of boat speed!

Jules Verne record holder, Brian Thompson was racing with old friends on Spirit of Juno, Ondeck's Farr 65 but he suggested that giant multihull Banque Populaire V could complete this course in about 30 hours. The MOD 70s would also be able to achieve that and it would be great to see a bigger multihull class next year.

Two Superyachts enjoyed an incredible battle around the course, Peter Harrison's 115ft ketch, Sojana and Gerhard Andlinger's 124ft sloop, Team P2 have never done battle before in an offshore race. The two magnificent superyachts had a 600-mile match race around the entire course. P2 were the first home by just over 13 minutes in a race lasting over two and a half days. However, Sojana was well over an hour quicker than P2 after time correction. The two skippers, Marc Fitzgerald and Jonathan Kline spoke dockside as the two yachts finally came to rest in Falmouth Marina.

"P2 has done lots of bucket racing and superyacht events but what attracted P2's owner Mr A to the race was that we could sail long legs and let P2 do what she was designed to do," commented P2's Kline. "The RORC Caribbean 600 gave P2 a chance to shine and give the owner the experience of long distance sailing offshore but still in the vicinity of great islands and magnificent views."

"We don't often have a match race on Sojana, we try an avoid it to be honest, especially when you are up against someone as good as Peter Holmberg who was at the wheel of P2," admitted Sojana's Fitzgerald. "P2 got away at the start but we reeled them in on the reach to Barbuda.  All credit to P2, they came back at us at Guadeloupe and we didn't pass them until after the Barbuda mark. We had our problems on the beat to finish, which slowed us down but P2 sailed extremely well and made it a great race."

Both Adela and Windrose capture the imagination of years gone by. In spectacular surroundings the golden age of the schooners was recreated in an epic battle between two magnificent yachts and just before dawn on the fourth day of the RORC Caribbean 600, the gentlemanly duel was settled.

The wondrous 180ft schooner, Adela crossed the finish line to take the gun just 1 hour and 42 minutes ahead of great rival, the 154ft schooner, Windrose of Amsterdam. The two schooners had enjoyed an intense battle around the 600-mile course with the two yachts trading places for the lead on eight separate occasions, Adela counted 51 energy sapping sail changes during the race.

Windrose of Amsterdam was chartered for the second year running by members of the Royal Ocean Racing Club, including past RORC Commodore, Andrew McIrvine and current RORC Commodore, Mike Greville. Windrose skipper, Alex Howard said dockside: "It was a tiring race with only 5 hours sleep and an interesting battle with Adela, but they got away from us and after Desirade. It's a shame we didn't do better, but there is always a next time. It was a great race and it is good to get five big Superyachts and Spirit of Tradition boats in this event for sure."

Adela's skipper, Greg Perkins spoke after the race: "This season, Adela races Windrose at three regattas and we have a barrel of rum on each event and I am two up at the moment, so I think Alex will be fuming! The boats are evenly matched; we have had tacking duels, luffing matches and all great fun. I would love to say that Adela will do the race next year if there is a schooner class, I say bring them down."

Without doubt, the closest racing for this year's event was in IRC One. Colin Buffin's Swan 62, Uxorious IV, was first to finish, but the team did not celebrate a class win. Buffin and his young team knew that Amanda Hartley's Swan 56, Clem was extremely close to eclipsing their corrected time. Just over three and a half hours passed before Clem crossed the finish line to win the class by just 21 seconds on corrected time. There were euphoric scenes dockside as the Spanish crew of Clem celebrated. The entire crew of Uxorious IV including Colin Buffin sportingly applauded their rivals. Amanda Hartley spoke of their win.

"'We had no idea until we crossed the line and turned on our phones which went crazy. We got stuck at Guadeloupe for four hours and we could only sit and watch Uxorious get away. We are obviously extremely delighted and really appreciate Colin and his team coming over to give us such a lovely welcome back to Antigua."

Scarlet Logic came close to a fairy tale finish, the Oyster 48, co-skippered by Ross Applebey and Tim Thubron had been vying for the overall. In the end Scarlet Logic missed out, but the team had put in an incredible effort to take a convincing win in IRC Two. Scarlet Logic also recorded best corrected time in IRC One, Two and Three and as a result were awarded the fantastic prize of a week's accommodation generously donated by race sponsor, The Inn at English Harbour.

"Fantastic, elated but bloody tired," admitted Tim Thubron, co-skipper of Scarlet Logic. We were aware that we were in with a chance of beating the big, well funded professional teams and that really spurred us on. A lot of credit must go to the whole team, especially Ross Applebey. Scarlet was immaculately prepared, however we did need to drop the main to replace a sail slide. The main back up in eight minutes, that to me says it all about the crew work on board."

The Class40s division produced a battle royale between Christophe Coatnoan's French Partouche and Christof Petter's Austrian Vaquita. The two Class40s were locked in a heroic tacking duel for the final push to the finish line. Vaquita crossed the line just 15 minutes ahead of Partouche. However, Vaquita failed to start the race correctly and to the Austrian crews disappointment, the class win was awarded to Partouche: "It was a tough race and we had a couple of moments that really slowed us down," commented Christophe Coatnoan who raced two-handed with Eric Calmard. "We picked up a fishing float after Nevis without realising and we probably lost 8 miles before we knew it was there. Later at Guadeloupe, I had to dive into the water to free Partouche from yet another fishing buoy. The race was an excellent test for our new design especially for our sails as I think we used every one of them during the race."

Without doubt the biggest reception for any of the yachts was reserved for Bernie Evan-Wong's Mumm 36, High Tension. Falmouth Harbour exploded with noise as the smallest yacht in the race tied up right outside the Antigua Yacht Club. Thunderous blasts from megayachts, superyachts and foghorns literally shook the dock as the whole of the sailing community in Falmouth heralded the arrival of local hero Bernie and his crew.

"I said we would be here by tonight but I always like to be early for appointments," joked the Antiguan dentist. "It was a hard but satisfying race and the beat from Redonda to the finish seemed to take forever. We could see Antigua but it just didn't seem to be getting any bigger, however a few miles out a massive rain squall hit and veered the wind favourably. After last year's dismasting, I think maybe someone was looking out for us!"

The RORC Caribbean 600 now attracts some of the world's best professional offshore sailors but they are not the only ones. Corinthian crews such as the Lloyd's of London Yacht Club took on the professionals in Class Zero and the vast majority of the hundreds of sailors were sailing for pleasure not for pay. Probably the most noteworthy entry was Spirit Of Venus. The First 40.7 was chartered from Ondeck by the Royal Armoured Corps Offshore Racing Team, many of whom were returning from a tour of duty in Afghanistan. A ripped mainsail before the start was heroically replaced by local charter skipper Chris Jackson. The Royal Armoured Corps was late on parade by nearly half an hour however, Spirit of Venus charged out of Falmouth Harbour. The British Army team may have been the last yacht to finish but their valour and determination was nothing short of commendable.

Published in Offshore
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#CARIBBEAN 600 –Four Irish sailors on board a massive super yacht were among an international crew of 21 who took line honours yesterday in the Royal Ocean Racing Club's Caribbean 600 race.

The crew on the Carbon built maxi included many Volvo Ocean Race and Americas cup veterans and Irish sailors James Caroll, Johnny Mordant, Aaron O'Grady and Mark O'Reilly.

The 214ft longHetairos skippered by Vincent Fauquenoy, crossed the finish line in Antigua, completing the RORC Caribbean 600 in an elapsed time of 2 days 2 hours 39 minutes and 32 seconds to claim line honours.

The monumental ketch was well outside the record time set by Rambler 100 last year, however the international team aboard Hetairos were all smiles as they were greeted by well-wishers and a cacophony of horns from megayachts in Falmouth Harbour.

Hetairos navigator, South African Marc Lagesse modestly admitted to being somewhat taken aback with their achievement:

"I have to say, I am genuinely surprised that we were the first yacht home. I honestly thought that we wouldn't take Line Honours before the race. Hetairos and especially her sails are not optimized for racing on a course like the '600. Also I thought that from a navigators point of view, I got a few calls not quite right. However, we did have a few decisions work out for us by chance and I would always say it is better to be lucky than good! For example, we went inshore behind Guadeloupe, to change a sail in flat water and by chance we got a big lift in there. Last year I did this race on a Class40 in a lot of wind, so I have experienced some big contrasts but I really enjoyed this race, an illustrious fleet with great people and a big atmosphere."

Hetairos were pushed hard all the way by George David's 90ft maxi, Rambler. It was not until half way through the race that Hetairos managed to pass Rambler. The all star American team put in a fantastic performance but could not match the pace of an opponent over twice their size.

George David spoke candidly shortly after the race:

"It was great to get back in the saddle for a 600-mile race after the Fastnet, and to hold out so long on that course against Hetairos required a magnificent effort. On corrected time, it was never going be easy to win. Rambler 90 was launched in 2002 and hull design and stability has improved significantly since then so it was not just the size that we were up against. However, Mick (Harvey) is a great project manager and Norm (David Petersen) is a great Boat Captain and all the guys are just so much fun to sail with."

Niklas Zennstrom's JV72, Rán was the next yacht home, less than an hour behind Rambler to claim the overall lead after time correction in the 2012 RORC Caribbean 600. Rán know that there can be no celebration yet, but Rán has set the bar very high indeed. As the remaining yachts battle it out on the course, Team Rán must wait until this fascinating race plays out. Several yachts are very much in contention to beat Rán's corrected time.

Rán's owner and principle helmsman, Niklas Zennstrom looked tired but full of joy after completing a race that he has wanted to do for some time:

"The whole of Team Rán have been looking forward to this race for a while. We have wanted to do this race since 2009. A few of the crew have done the race before, Jeremy Robinson on Leopard for example and he was able to give a lot of input before the race. But Ado (Stead) and Steve (Hayles) have not competed in the '600 before, so it has been somewhat new territory for us, which is always exciting. It is a complex course, more like a series of coastal races. However, I think the reason I was attracted to the race so much was that we enjoyed Antigua Sailing Week and the idea of an offshore race in the Caribbean was very appealing. Any 600-mile yacht race is hard but the fantastic conditions and beautifully weather makes this one even more satisfying. The close reach down to Guadeloupe from St.Barths was very memorable, fast reaching conditions in beautiful surroundings, some of the best sailing you can imagine."

Just after sunset, Olivier Vigoureux's one-off trimaran Paradox came to rest after over two days of blasting around the Caribbean. The weather-gods did not smile on the team and Region Guadeloupe's multihull record was never really in doubt, but the crew of Paradox should be delighted to claim the winner's trophy for the Multihull Class this year. Hopefully their exploits will encourage a bigger fleet of multihulls next year, spearing through the Caribbean at break neck speed is surely every multihull sailor's dream.

Published in Offshore
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#OFFSHORE – George David's RP90 Rambler has a commanding lead in the battle for line honours in the RORC Caribbean 600. The American entry is over 20 miles ahead of the 214ft Ketch Hetairos, even though Rambler is less than half the size.

Rambler rounded Tintamarre just after dawn this morning to begin the 160-mile power reach south to Guadeloupe. Rambler barely stalled for speed right through the night. The American maxi cut the corner at Nevis, as better than expected breeze hurried their progress. Except for dropping below ten knots in the wind shadow of St.Martin, Rambler has been absolutely launched. Hetairos may close the gap on the reach but the superyacht is now well behind Rambler. Rambler provisionally lead IRC Zero after time correction with Niklas Zennström's JV72, Rán lying in second place. Swan 80 Selene had a good first night to take up third place on handicap.

In IRC Two, Ross Applebey's Oyster 48, Scarlet Logic is provisionally leading overall in the RORC Caribbean 600. Over night, the predicted fall in wind speed never materialized and Scarlet Logic maintained good boat speed throughout. After rounding Saba, Scarlet Logic was back on the wind and trucking along at seven knots. Smile and Wave, Jaime Torres' First 40 found ballistic pace during the night and is in second. Amanda Hartley's Swan 56, Clem did not have such a good night and has dropped back to third.

As expected, the largest yacht in the fleet, Hetairos lead the five superyachts by some margin. The 214ft carbon fibre ketch was flying last night reaching at a speed in excess of 18 knots rounding St.Kitts. By midnight Hetairos was rounding Saba and beating north. However, none of the 36 crew will have retired below. In the dead of night, the tricky slalom course through St.Barths and past St.Martin would have required all hands. Behind Hetairos two monumental duels are playing out, Sojana and P2 have enjoyed each others close company virtually from the start. Race fans may have noticed however that P2 have completely split from the usual heading after rounding Saba. The 38m Perini Navi looks to be 'banging the corner' going to the far extremity of the course. This morning P2 was on a beam reach at full speed heading to St.Barths, whilst Sojana was beating to windward. It will be interesting to see which tactical play wins out. Adela and Windrose of Amsterdam are enjoying a titanic sparring match and there is nothing between the two yachts on the water, however Adela does give Windrose a significant amount of time under IRC.

IRC One has a new provisional leader after time correction. Smile and Wave had great pace off the breeze during the night, however the beat around St.Barths should favour Spanish entry Clem. Colin Buffin's Uxorious IV elected to take a more northerly course after Saba and the Swan 62 looks to be pointing higher than rivals.

Bernie Evan Wong has just cleared the wind shadow behind St Kitts. However, shortly after sunrise, High Tension made an unusual bare-away in the lee of St.Kitts, presumably to effect some sort of repair. It was almost exactly the same spot as High Tension dismasted last year. Happily, Bernie and his team are going well and enjoying the ride.

Published in Offshore
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#CARIBBEAN 600 – Irish crews are reveling in the heavy going at the start of today's RORC 600 race today with four Irish crew on the largest yacht in the 39-boat fleet, the massive ketch Hetairos.

There was drama right from the start of the 4th edition of the RORC Caribbean 600. Low cloud enveloped Antigua and a massive squall caused a torrential downpour. With the wind gusting up to 20 knots, the crew were scrambling for wet weather gear. The feisty conditions caused some hair-raising action under the cliffs of Fort Charlotte outside English Harbour. However, once the squall had passed bright sunshine lit up the race course and the highly impressive fleet was a spectacular sight.

First to start were the multihulls. Olivier Vigoureux's 63ft trimaran, Paradox got the best start but by contrast, Michael Butterfield's Super Rose had a very conservative beginning to their adventure. Super Rose's crew is made up of just family and friends and their single goal is to enjoy a marvellous race round 11 Caribbean Islands.

Ten minutes later Classes One, Two, Three and the Class40s were away with Ross Applebey's Scarlet Oyster having a good start. However, Northern Child was seen to return after missing the Outer Distance Mark at the start. Bernie Evan-Wong's Mumm 36, High Tension showed great local knowledge by getting inshore right under the cliffs of Fort Charlotte. High Tension has one of the lowest handicaps of the impressive fleet and may well benefit from increased wind forecast later this week. In Class One the two Swans, Amanda Hartley's Swan 56 Clem and Colin Buffin's Swan 62, Uxorious IV enjoyed a very competitive start.  No doubt these two Swans will enjoy a close battle within their class. Clem won her class in the 2009 Rolex Fastnet Race and Uxorious IV won last year's highly competitive St.Malo Race.

hetarios

The largest yacht in the fleet Hetairos with four Irish crew onboard for the RORC Caribbean 600 Photo: Tim Wright

With 16 highly competitive yachts in Class Zero, fireworks at the start were always going to be a possibility and the crowd of spectators at Shirley Heights were not disappointed. Niklas Zennström's JV72, Rán nailed the line with precision to the right hand side of the course. Meanwhile, Mike Cotter's RP78, Whisper gained a lift on the left hand side. As Rán hardened up, Whisper tacked for depth and the two Mini Maxis had an extremely close encounter. Sergey Borodinov's 90' Supermaxi, Med Spirit went for a very late sail change and was bare headed just four minutes before the start. The team work on board was frantic as the crew affected an efficient sail change.

Tim Fetsch's Icarus Racing got a great start midway through the line but 20 miles from Barbuda were overhauled by Peter Harding and Hannah Jenner onboard 40 Degrees.

The last start of the day was for the five yachts competing in the RORC Caribbean 600 that are 100ft and over. There was a fantastic spectacle as the 180' Adela and the 154' Windrose went toe-to-toe. The two magnificent schooners were locked in a battle for the line. Windrose managed to hold their lane to windward of Adela to win the start, but Adela's water line length advantage came into play to overhaul their grand competition. Peter Harrison's Sojana had a fantastic start.

RORC member John Burnie called in from the rail of the fabulous 115' ketch: "We had a great tussle with Gerhard Andlinger's P2 during the pre-start, all gentlemanly stuff but we managed to manoeuvre well and hit the line with pace, maybe just half a boat length shy, however P2 is 125' long and got a great head of speed up wind. Hetairos went right in under Shirley Heights and stayed in past Indian Creek, we heard them radio P2 to call for water as they tacked out. However, P2 maintained their course and passed well ahead of Hetairos. At Green Island, P2 were the first monohull but I believe Hetairos will catch them as they bear away after Green Island but the sloop rig on P2, is very efficient upwind. On Sojana we have managed to get through a light patch of wind just before Green Island but looking up the track, it looks like the wind is freshening."

The Royal Armoured Corp were late on parade, nearly half an hour late for the race. Their First 40.7 Spirit of Venus was not seen to come to the starting area. However, just as the fabulous five yachts over 100' began to get up to full speed, the diminutive Spirit of Venus, charged out of Falmouth Harbour with the throttle fully down. A mighty squall had ripped their mainsail, quick thinking Ondeck charter skipper, Chris Jackson came to their aid, ribbing out a replacement. Spirit of Venus started the race with just minutes to spare before being counted out. Spirit of Venus then performed the required 720 turning penalty and sped off to start the RORC Caribbean 600. The team aboard Spirit of Venus are all serving members of the 2nd Royal Tank Regiment returning from Afghanistan, perhaps their military training has enabled them to stay in the RORC Caribbean 600 race.

Published in Offshore
Tagged under

#WORLD RECORD - A Dutch teenager has become the youngest sailor to circumnavigate the world solo - following a court battle for the right to embark on the challenge.

Sixteen-year-old Laura Dekker sailed into harbour at Sint Maarten in the Caribbean on Saturday afternoon to complete her round-the-world voyage.

She arrived a year and two days after setting out, and beat the previous unofficial record held by Australian Jessica Watson by eight months, according to RTÉ News.

The feat is more remarkable in that Dekker sailed from port-to-port, staying at sea for at most three weeks at a time, whereas Watson voyaged non-stop.

But the adventure almost didn't happen, as Dekker and her father had to fight in a court in Utrecht for the right to attempt the record, as previously reported on Afloat.ie.

Dekker has originally planned to set out a year earlier, at the age of 14, but the court ordered her placed in the care of welfare officers on the grounds that she was too young to guarantee her safety at sea.

She finally won the court battle in July 2010 and set sail from Gibraltar the following month, though a change to her planned course saw the challenge officially begin in Sint Maarten in January 2011 instead.

However, the record will not be officially recognised by the Guinness Book of World Records nor the World Sailing Speed Record Council, which does not classify records by age.

RTÉ News has more on the story HERE.

Published in News Update
#MARINE WILDLIFE - A rare leatherback turtle washed up in Cumbria could be a sign that the Irish Sea is hiding an unknown bounty of marine wildlife.
The Cumbria Wildlife Trust told The Westmoreland Gazette that the find reinforces calls for the Irish Sea region to be designated as a Marine Conservation Zone.
Leatherback turtles are on the critically endangered list, and face any number of threats, from injury by boat propellors, to drowning in fishing nets below the surface.
The green waters of the Irish Sea are a big attraction to leatherback turtles and species from the Caribbean and other far-away climbs due to their abundance of food.
The Westmoreland Gazette has more on the story HERE.

#MARINE WILDLIFE - A rare leatherback turtle washed up in Cumbria could be a sign that the Irish Sea is hiding an unknown bounty of marine wildlife.

The Cumbria Wildlife Trust told The Westmoreland Gazette that the find reinforces calls for the Irish Sea region to be designated as a Marine Conservation Zone.

Leatherback turtles are on the critically endangered list, and face any number of threats, from injury by boat propellors, to drowning in fishing nets below the surface.

The green waters of the Irish Sea are a big attraction to leatherback turtles and species from the Caribbean and other far-away climbs due to their abundance of food.

The Westmoreland Gazette has more on the story HERE.

Published in Marine Wildlife
For nearly a week the cargo-ship Arklow Future has been berthed at the lead-in jetty to the only dry-dock facility in Dublin Port, writes Jehan Ashmore.
She is one of the 9 'F' –class series within a fleet of 32 vessels managed by the Arklow Shipping Ltd (ASL). The Co. Wicklow based company has its Irish headquarters on the banks of the River Avoca in addition to its Dutch operation Arklow Shipping B.V. (ASN) which manages a further 10 vessels. The majority of this smaller fleet fly the of The Netherlands.

This month ASN are due delivery of the 4,700 gross tonnes Arklow Bridge, the second 'B' class newbuild was also built by the Dutch company of Bodewes Shipyards B.V. She is the fifth vessel to carry this name since Arklow Shipping was founded in 1966.

The Arklow Bridge is registered in St. John's the capital of the Caribbean island of Antigua where she will be flagged. Antigua became an associated state of the Commonwealth until it was disassociated from Britain 30 years ago.

Her sister Arklow Brook entered service this year and is designed with two holds with a total (grain and bale) capacity of 9473.1m3 or an equivalent of 33,4524 ft3.

For cargo-separation the holds can be sub-divided by a portable bulkhead in up to 8 positions. In addition to carrying agricultural-based cargoes, the 116m (OA) overall long vessel can handle 177 (TEU) containers in the hold and another 88 can be stowed on top of the hold's hatch covers. Both the holds are fitted with dehumidifier's.

The power-plant is derived from a MaK 6M32C 2999kW main engine with a Renk gearbox and Berg controllable pitch propeller that provides around 12 knots.

With the entry of Arklow Bridge, the combined fleet is over 40 ships that trade in the north-west of Europe and the Mediterranean. For further vessel statistics of the sisters click here and for a photo of the new vessel click this link.

Asides the Rotterdam based operation of ASN, the Irish side of the company is the largest indigenous owned shipping company in terms of Irish-flagged and registered tonnage. Arklow is not only the headquarter's of ASL but the homeport is also where the vessels are registered.

Published in Ports & Shipping
Cruise Ireland, the marketing group promoting Ireland as a cruise destination; has announced that the overall economic contribution of the cruise business is estimated to be worth €60 million to the island of Ireland. On average there are over 200 cruise calls to Ireland per year carrying approximately half a million passengers and crew.

There are many indirect economic and tourism benefits to Ireland from this sector, as well as the benefit of introducing Ireland to new markets and business opportunities. Such cruise visits also help to showcase Ireland's world class shore products, destinations and highlights all that Ireland has to offer visitors.

One of Ireland's advantages is the strategic and geographic spread of its numerous ports, many of which are in close proximity to world class tourism destinations.

Speaking at Seatrade Miami this week, the Chairman of Cruise Ireland, Mr Brendan Keating said "Cruise Ireland aims to promote the island of Ireland as an excellent cruising ground for cruise companies. With the total economic contribution of €60 million, we need to ensure that Ireland maintains this level of business and looks at methods of growing it in the future."

He continued; "Cruise Ireland is looking forward to the 2011 season with confidence. We expect to see further growth in ship calls and the continued establishment of Ireland as an important cruise liner destination. Marketing Cruise Ireland at Seatrade will hopefully encourage further cruise bookings to Ireland in 2012 and 2013."

Representatives from Cruise Ireland attended Seatrade Miami to promote the Island of Ireland as a cruise line tourism destination. This event is attended by over 10,000 delegates, cruise line operators, the world's leading cruise tourism destinations and 118 countries.

Each year, all of the international operators including Princess Cruises, Royal Caribbean, Cunard, Holland America Line and NCL visit Irish ports to access Ireland's world class destinations.

The 2011 season will kick off in early April with calls by the MV Queen Victoria to Cork, the MV Boudicca to Dublin and the MV Ocean Nova to Belfast

Published in Cruise Liners
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