by Louay Habib
At 1300 on day four of the RORC Caribbean 600, twenty yachts are still racing with the majority of them expected to finish the race later today or in the early hours of tomorrow morning.
Peter Harding’s Class40, 40 Degrees wins class and breaks the Class40 record by 3hrs 17mins 15secs, set in 2009 by Tony Lawson’s Concise2
Antigua Yacht Club has been open all hours, providing a safe haven for tired crews. Every boat is met by volunteers eager to greet tired sailors, day and night with warm hearts and cold beer. Over half the fleet is now accounted for, however there are some weary teams still battling it out. The tough conditions over the last three days have abated a little but the big seas remain, making progress difficult for the yachts still racing. Spare a thought for the three Guadeloupe Grand Large Figaro II teams; just four up in a 33ft boat, tired, wet and hungry. For them above all, the RORC Caribbean 600 is a labour of love. Arthur Prat leads the Figaro Class by a slender three miles from Baptiste Maillet. Both yachts are expected to arrive in Antigua early this evening.
Peter Harding's Class40, 40 Degrees, crossed the finish line this morning to win the class with Mike Thrower's Jasmine Flyer just behind them to secure second place. Christof Petter's Vaquita claimed third in a very close race.
40 Degrees - Welcome on the dock in Antigua
Harding knew that they had won the class but didn't find out that 40 Degrees had broken the Class40 course record, set by Tony Lawson's Concise2 in 2011, by a massive 3 hours 17 mins and 15 secs.
'Wow' exclaimed Peter! 'I never show much emotion but that is really good to hear. Right now all I can think about is the 40-mile beat back from Redonda, which was dead on the nose and a very hard way to finish a very tough yacht race. Hannah Jenner described the boat as a submarine and that wasn't far wrong, I don't think we could have got any wetter if we tried. It is a great result for the boat and third time lucky, as the boat has not managed to complete the course in two attempts before. I have done five Fastnets and none of them were as hard as this.'
In IRC One Simon de Pietro's Briand 76, Lilla, finished this morning to take class line honours and the win after time correction under IRC.
IRC One line honours and class win for Simon de Pietro's Briand 76, Lilla - 2013 RORC Caribbean 600
'It was a blast,' said Simon. 'It's a great race course and there aren't many races you can do in a T-shirt and shorts for most of the time. I'm really pleased to win the IRC One Trophy. We've had a good run with Lilla. She's not a real race boat but she's quick on reaching and great upwind. We've spent some money on sails and so forth since last year's race and have a real multinational crew on board. A number of the crew are from South Africa, with some really good ocean racers 'in their day' plus a bit of local knowledge with Ian Martin and Randy West on board, so we have some famous people as well and their local knowledge obviously helps.'
Colin Buffin's Swan 62, Uxorious IV, finished just two minutes behind Lilla to take second in class for the second year running. The remaining podium place is still undecided. However with 65 miles to go, Jason and Judy Payne-James' Dufour 45, Heartbeat IV, is currently in third place, just ahead of Andy Middleton's First 47.7, EH01.
In IRC Two none of the yachts have finished the race. 34 miles from the finish, Ross Applebey and Tim Thubron's British Oyster 48, Scarlet Logic lead the fleet and have just rounded Redonda for the energy-sapping 40-mile beat to the finish. Joseph Mele's Swan 48, Triple Lindy, and Christian Reynolds' Swan 53, Northern Child, are over an hour behind Scarlet Logic after IRC time correction. All three leading yachts are expected to finish around sunset tonight.
In IRC Three Jonty Layfield's British J/39, Sleeper VIII, still leads the class on the water and on time correction under IRC and is expected back in Antigua at midnight tonight to win the class title. Valerio Bardi's Swan 46, Milanto, and Adrian Lower's Swan 44, Selene, have found another gear and should be back in Antigua tomorrow morning prior to Friday's prizegiving.
Caribbean 600 website