The RORC Caribbean 600 2013 was off to a furious start with Peter Aschenbrenner's American trimaran, Paradox and Mike Slade's British Maxi, ICAP Leopard both averaging a ballistic 18 knots covering the first 100 miles of the course in an astonishing seven and a half hours.
Paradox is eating up the miles, after literally getting airborne in the upwind leg after the start. Paradox pulled the trigger on the windward side of Antigua, flashing through the Atlantic swell like a scalded cat. By 1700 local time, Paradox had passed Nevis and blasting to leeward of St.Kitts, still achieving over 20 knots of boat speed. Lloyd Thornburg's Gunboat 66 Phaedo, nearly twice the weight of Paradox, was being pushed hard by Britain's Brian Thompson on the helm of Phaedo. Paradox was only 12 miles astern giving the Lamborghini Orange Gunboat the class lead on corrected. Sadly Austin Hearst's Gunboat 66, Slim has been forced to retire after rudder damage.
Mike Slade's British Maxi, ICAP Leopard and Hap Fauth's Bella Mente are seriously on the charge. Race fans may have noticed that the race tracker page has Rambler 100's record run from 2011 overlaid and at 1700, ICAP Leopard was ahead of the imaginary rival and the 72 foot Bella Mente less than two miles behind!
In the Superyacht category, Filip Balcaen's Belgian Baltic 112, Nilaya has averaged over 14 knots to lead the class on the water, but a strong performance by Adela puts the 180ft Schooner, skippered by Greg Perkins, ahead after time correction. Geert Pepping's schooner Athos had a conservative start to their first ever offshore race but the mood on board is buoyant, as Navigator, Miles Seddon explained by satellite link.
'Chasing down the fleet, after a poor start we have great conditions on Athos, and we are starting to claw our way back. Look out for the 'big red' over your shoulder,' said Miles Seddon on Athos.
Ron O'Hanley's American Cookson 50, Privateer is just 16 miles behind ICAP Leopard and ahead in the Canting Keel Class, after time correction. Privateer is also second overall in IRC. However, Hap Fauth's American JV72, Bella Mente is currently leading both IRC Zero and the race for the coveted RORC Caribbean 600 Trophy. Bella Mente is absolutely smoking the rest of her class, extending by over 13 miles from her nearest rival, Jens Kellinghusen's German Ker 51, Varuna.
In IRC One Simon de Pietro's Irish Briand 76, Lilla and Colin Buffin's British Swan 62, Uxorious IV have broken away from the pack after the North Sails Mark at Barbuda. Lilla was leading the class on handicap, however Uxorious IV has now sped away to take the class lead.
A tremendous battle is raging in IRC Two, as the fleet approach the North Sails mark. Less than four miles separate the entire nine-boat fleet. Reigning Class champion, Ross Applebey's Oyster 48, Scarlet Logic co-skippered by Tim Thubron is leading by a slender margin with British Grand Soleil 43.
Quokka LLYC, nipping at Scarlet Logic's heels. However IRC Two is wide open and very competitive.
In IRC Three Jonty Layfield's British J/39, Sleeper holds the advantage and a tremendous battle is developing between two vintage Swans behind them, Adrian Lower's British Swan 44, Selene is only half a mile astern of Valerio Bardi's Italian Swan 46, Milanto. However Selene is ahead after time correction.
As the fleet prepare for their first night at sea, the yachts will be enjoying a stunning downwind sleigh ride which they were hoping to experience in the Caribbean. There will be some respite to recover tired limbs as they reach from Nevis to Saba in the flat water behind St Kitts before an energy sapping tough beat up to St. Barths.
Pick of the Blogs from the boats:
'Phaedo, Gunboat 66: Drama right on the start line as our first reef pulled away from the mainsail with 10 seconds to go. A wet and bumpy ride up to Green Island before bearing away and unleashing our fractional reaching sail to spend a lot of time doing 20+ knots en-route to the Barbuda mark. We're currently heading down-wind towards Nevis hopefully clawing back some miles against Paradox with some great VMG and bonus hump-back whale breaches off to starboard, as we close in on Nevis.'
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During the race, there will be daily news stories, images and video updates from the fleet. All of the yachts are fitted with Yellowbrick trackers and competitors are encouraged to send blogs and images from the yachts, which will also appear on the website. RORC Caribbean 600