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Volvo Ocean Race, RORC Caribbean 600, CCA award recipients announced

by David Schmidt 26 Feb 2018 10:34 PST 26 February 2018
George David's Rambler 88 - RORC Caribbean 600 © RORC / Tim Wright /

Don't be fooled by lingering patches of snow, bits of black ice and chilly winds: Spring's advance is coming and is evidenced both by additional minutes of daylight and by an uptick in sailing-related activity as the start of sailing and cruising season slowly begins hoving into view here in the northern hemisphere. And while spring officially arrives in less than a month, activity is already beginning in earnest in the Caribbean, where the RORC recently completed a windy and wild edition of their now-famous Caribbean 600, which saw 84 boats lining up for a late-winter shot of saline, sunshine and strong trade wind conditions.

Impressively, George David and his Rambler 88 crew took line honours amongst the monohulls and established a new course record, shaving almost two hours and thirty minutes off of the benchmark time that David established in 2011 aboard his former Rambler 100. David's new time of 1 day 13 hours 41 minutes and 45 seconds will likely stand until the race sees similar conditions, and possibly until new ideas surface on the design and build side of the equation.

"We sailed a good race and didn't leave much out there," said David in an official RORC Caribbean 600 press release. "Nobody got hurt and we didn't break anything, all of which is good. Why did we beat the record? I think it might come down to evolution in design. Six years ago the conditions were similar, yet we are two and a half hours ahead of a 100-foot boat. [Modern] boats just go faster."

Things were equally quick amongst the multi-hulls, and Peter Aschenbrenner's 63-foot trimaran, Paradox, swept line honours with a time of just one day, 13 hours, 5 minutes and 16 seconds. "The conditions we had in those big reaches was intense; the wave state was really big and there was a lot of wind," reported Aschenbrenner in an official RORC press release. "When you hit the wave crest with the cross-beam at 30 knots, it makes a kind-of explosive sound; the boat is moving around a lot and there is spray everywhere."

Unfortunately, all did not end well across the fleet of multi-hulls as Greg Slyngstad's Bieker 53 catamaran Fujin capsized, however her eight-person crew was successfully rescued and all sailors are now reported to be safe. Slyngstad and most of his highly (highly) experienced crew hail from the Seattle area and are friends of this publication, and we certainly wish the crew and owner a speedy and successful return to racing multi-hulls offshore.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the globe, the now six-strong fleet of Volvo Ocean 65s are rapidly closing in on the finishing line off of Auckland, New Zealand, in Leg 6 of the Volvo Ocean Race. At the time of this writing, a mere 192 nautical miles separated Team AkzoNobel's bow from the leg win and big celebrations ashore, however Team Sun Hung Kai/Scallywag and Turn The Tide On Plastic were only 8 and 13 miles (respectively) astern of Team AkzoNobel, making this a bit of a nail-biter.

While crews are pressing their steeds hard, conditions could lighten up as the frontrunners approach the finishing line. "When we get to the light patch we will run a standby watch so we've got extra people to move things around and furl things so the drivers and trimmers stay focused," said Dee Caffari, skipper of Turn The Tide On Plastic. "Then, when the wind fills in, we'll have everyone up so we're ready for anything. We'll leave nothing left in the tank."

Stay tuned to the webpage for the latest VOR news, as it breaks.

Finally, the Cruising Club of America has presented Webb Chiles (76), of Hilton Head, South Carolina, with its prestigious Blue Water Medal for amassing five completed circumnavigations (as well as 24,000 miles towards his sixth "lap"). Impressively, while Chiles grew up in a non-sailing family, he had already completed his first circumnavigation by the ripe age of 35.

"A sailor is an artist whose medium is the wind," said Chiles in a CCA press release. "People who know of me at all probably do so as a sailor, but I have always thought of myself as an artist, and I believe that the artist's defining responsibility is to go to the edge of human experience and send back reports."

The CCA also presented their Special Recognition Award to Rich Wilson (67), of Boston, Massachusetts, for completing two Vendee Globe races (2008/2009 and 2016/2017), and they recognized Jessica Watson (25), of Buderim, Queensland, Australia, with their Young Voyager Award for her solo and unassisted circumnavigation, which she completed at the age of 16.

"With the club's impressive history and award alumni it's humbling to receive this award," said Watson in an official CCA press release. "If you truly want to live life, you have to get involved, pursue your passions and dream big."

We at couldn't agree more, and we raise our glasses to these three fine sailors, both for their great accomplishments on the water and for the impressive role models that they have become for countless younger (and not-so-young) sailors who pull inspiration from these feats and who may one day follow in their proud wakes.

May the four winds blow you safely home,

David Schmidt, USA Editor

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