by Oliver Dewar
RORC Caribbean 600 start saw 34 boats cross the line at 19:00 GMT (11:30 local) on Monday, including six Class40’s racing in three classes – Class40, IRC1 and CSA.
RORC Caribbean 600
For the 600 mile weave through the islands of the central Caribbean, the Class40s are racing in a highly diverse fleet, including the 154ft schooner Windrose of Amsterdam and George David’s Rambler, Piet Vroon’s Ker 46 Tonnerre de Breskens and Hugo Steinbeck’s Dubois 90 Genuine Risk.
The Class40 RORC 600 fleet in 2010 numbered three boats: 40 Degrees, Ocean Warrior and Willy Bissainte’s 2005 Pogo40, Tradition Guadeloupe. After light winds dogged the fleet, Ocean Warrior and 40 Degrees retired with pressing flight schedules and work commitments, while Bissainte and his crew persevered, completing the race after five and-a-half days. With the number of Caribbean-based Class40’s swollen by last year’s single-handed Route du Rhum race from St. Malo to Guadeloupe, four of the Class40 RORC 600 fleet competed in the French transatlantic event.
Tony Lawson’s Concise 2 is skippered by Ned Collier-Wakefield and a crew of five – the first race outing since Pete Goss competed on Lawson’s 2010 Akilaria RC2 in the Route du Rhum taking 14th place under the colours of DMS – while a second, new Akilaria RC2, Philippe Fiston’s Territoires Attitude took 24th in the Route du Rhum and skippered by David Ducosson with Fiston and three other crew on board, will be suitable competition for Collier-Wakefield’s British team, the winners of the 2009 RORC 600.
Winner of the 2010 Class40 World Championships, Gonzalo Botin, took 32nd thirty second place in the Route du Rhum on his 2008 Lombard Proto Class40, Tales, and is back on the water for the RORC 600 with just two crew – Alvaro Lopez Doriga and Pablo Santurde - and the South African brothers, Lenjohn and Peter van der Wel, are campaigning their 2007 Express40, Ocean Warrior in CSA, as part of the build-up to the double-handed Global Ocean Race 2011-12 later this year.
British yachtsman, Matthew Sweetman, has chartered Olivier Sangelin’s 2009 Akilaria Gonser Group – Cambio following the French skipper’s 18th place in the Route du Rhum and will be racing as Puff the Magic Dragon with Singelin as part of the five crew while a German team of six has entered the Pogo40, Pogo 2 in IRC1.
With Concise 2 leading the fleet across the start line off English Harbour into 22 knots of north-east Trade Wind breeze, the Class40’s headed to the North Sails buoy off Barbuda, before turning west leaving Nevis to starboard with Collier-Wakefield and Concise 2 passing south of Nevis averaging 14 knots on starboard gybe in around 21 knots of north-easterly breeze. Just four miles astern, Sweetman and Singelin with Puff the Magic Dragon kept the pressure on with the Spanish trio on Tales a further two miles behind in third, holding a lead of under one mile over Ducosson and Fiston with Territoires Attitude.
As the JK100 Rambler led the fleet round St. Maarten - the northern point in the course – with a 30 mile lead over the Farr 100 ICAP Leopard, the front running Class40’s kept close formation sailing under darkness in the lee of St. Kitts with just four miles separating Concise 2, Puff the Magic Dragon and Tales as the boats left the island of Saba to starboard and began the beat towards St. Barths with Territoires Attitude dropping back marginally to ten miles behind the front pack.
Meanwhile, Lenjohn and Peter van der Wel on GOR entry Ocean Warrior in fifth were clearing St. Kitts 12 miles behind Ducosson’s new Akilaria and keeping a six mile lead over the German team on Pogo 2. At dawn on Tuesday, Ocean Warrior and Pogo 2 left Saba to starboard separated by two miles with the German yacht passing close to the dismasted Mumm 36 High Tension.
Throughout Tuesday morning, Concise 2 led the Class40 fleet in the beat to St Barths holding a lead of just three miles over Sweetman and crew on Puff the Magic Dragon. Holding third place, Gonzalo Botin and Tales were forced to retire, reporting a crewmember with a severely swollen ankle, leaving Territories Attitudes trailing the pack leader by 12 miles and the German team on Pogo 2 also retired later in the morning.
By 16:00 GMT (12:00 AST), Rambler was rounding the bottom of the course at the head of the fleet, slowing from a steady 18-20 knots to 15 knots in the lee of Guadeloupe. Further north, 165 miles back down the race track, Concise 2 was rounding St. Maarten and just starting the 185 mile reach south to Guadeloupe. Once the Class40’s reach the French Caribbean island and leave it to port, they will head north towards Barbuda and the North Sails buoy, then west to the uninhabited island of Redonda before a final beat to the finish line off Antigua.
Class40 positions at 16:00 GMT Tuesday 22 February:
1. Concise 2 DTF 386nm Av spd 5.4kts
2. Puff the Magic Dragon DTF 392nm Av spd 7.9kts
3. Territoires Attitudes DTF 409nm Av spd 12.6kts
4. Tales RTD
5. Ocean Warrior DTF 432nm Av spd 7.9kts
6. Pogo 2 RTD