The 11th edition of the RORC Caribbean 600 gets underway today with five starts scheduled from 1100-1140 local time with the multihulls in the final start.
The build-up to the non-stop race around 11 Caribbean islands has already been high drama with dismastings and capsizes, with the front-runners on race day reporting how the weather forecast could allow both the multihull and monohull race records to be broken.
The outlook suggest that moderate trade winds at the start will strengthen during the race, giving classic Caribbean sailing conditions of warm trade winds from the east with a moderate sea state.
“We have seen light conditions throughout January, but we are seeing a significant change for the RORC Caribbean 600, with low pressure pushing the high pressure away,” commented Andiamo’s skipper Mike Broughton.
“Traditional trade winds are expected to return for the race with a wave height of 8-14ft (1.8-2.8 metres). Wind speed is always difficult to estimate as this will be effected by the islands as well as the difference in rig height of the fleet. Generally speaking we can expect a mean wind direction from the east of about 20-26 knots, but more for the teams with taller rigs.”
Speculation around Argo, skippered by Jason Carroll (USA) continues. The MOD70 capsized at high speed during training on February 15 and Argo was righted and recovered back to Falmouth, Antigua. Since then they’ve been rallying to make the start, with Maserati Multi70 skipper Giovanni Soldini (ITA) agreeing to Team Argo’s request to postpone the start to 14.00 local time to allow the American Team to finish the repair work.
When Argo proposed the change, the organizing committee asked everyone in the MOCRA class (multihulls) to delay the start but the quorum wasn’t met, so they asked the Italian Team to create a special class for the two MOD 70s. Therefore, Maserati Multi 70 and Argo will compete in a Match Race without taking part in the corrected time ranking.
“We’re happy to let Argo’s Team participate in this beautiful race,” said Soldini. “We’ve decided to accept the delayed start because we’re here to compete on the water with one of the world’s strongest teams, and I’m sure this will be a great challenge.”
Unfortunately for George Sakellaris (USA) and his Maxi 72 Proteus team, their dismasting while training on February 13 will keep them from their fifth RORC Caribbean 600 and pursuit of a third overall win to go along with their titles in 2014 and 2016.
Their absence leaves Maxi72 Bella Mente’s Terry Hutchinson (USA) alone to pursue the monohull record. Hutchinson reports that their fastest routing analysis suggests that the record is under threat, an assessment that is also held by Simon Fisher, navigator on the Volvo 70 Wizard owned by David and Peter Askew (USA).
Sadly, Maxi72 Sorcha, owned by Peter Harrison (GBR) joins Proteus on the sideline. A hairline crack in their bowsprit turned out to be a major structural failure and with not enough time for a repair before the start, the team has been forced to withdraw from the race. First 40.7 Escapado is also out having damaged their rig before the start, but the crew led by Andy Young (GBR) will race J/130 renamed Escapado on Mazu.
The preview film for the 2019 RORC Caribbean 600 features interviews with some of the 700-plus sailors from 21 countries taking part in the race, including: Argo’s Brian Thompson (GBR) and Chad Corning (USA); Giovanni Soldini (ITA) Maserati Multi70; Terry Hutchinson on Bella Mente (USA); Bouwe Bekking (NED) on the superyacht Nikata; Jonathan McKee (USA) from Greg Slyngstad’s Fujin and from the two smallest yachts in the race; Johannes Gerssen (NED) racing Cabbyl Vane Two-Handed with his brother, and Rosalin Kemp (NED) from Bernie Evan-Wong’s Antiguan entry Taz. plus RORC CEO Eddie Warden Owen.
The 11th edition of the RORC Caribbean 600 starts from Antigua on February 18, 2019. The 600nm course circumnavigates 11 Caribbean Islands starting from Fort Charlotte, English Harbour, Antigua and heads north as far as St Martin and south to Guadeloupe taking in Barbuda, Nevis, St Kitts, Saba and St Barth’s.
Source: Louay Habib, Maserati