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Racing classes set for tomorrow's start to the AEGEAN 600

by Hellenic Offshore Racing Club 8 Jul 2023 15:30 PDT 7-15 July 2023
2023 AEGEAN 600 © Carlo Borlenghi

Upon completion of the Skipper's Briefing and Opening Ceremony last night, the lists of scoring classes is now set for tomorrow's start of the 3rd edition of the AEGEAN 600, an offshore classic race organized by the Hellenic Offshore Racing Club (HORC) and co-organized by the Region of Attica, Olympic Marine and the Deputy Ministry of Sports. The fleet of 45 monohulls and multihulls from 16 nations will be scored using the IRC and/or ORC rating systems (monohulls), the MOCRA system (multihulls) and IRC for the Maxi class.

The list of these boats and their ratings are found on the event website at aegean600.com/noticeboard. Rankings will be determined in order of the lowest Corrected Time using the formula Time-on-Time factor x Elapsed Time = Corrected Time, and when available will be published at aegean600.com/results.

For those that do well in this year's edition they will earn a place in the new AEGEAN 600 Hall of Fame just opened at the main venue at Olympic Marine. Here displays explain the history of this relatively new 600-mile offshore classic, the course the teams sail throughout the Aegean Sea, a photo and information about the previous winners who have earned a place here, and the overall perpetual AEGEAN 600 Trophy that will be awarded to the overall monohull winner at the Prize Giving Ceremony held on Saturday evening July 15th at the Lavrion Technological and Cultural Park.

The buzz around the docks today is the strength of the prevailing Meltemi and how it will influence the strategies for the teams.

Some, like George Sakellaris' Maxi 72 PROTEUS from the USA, will need to decide which sails they will take among their many options because Maxi sails are very heavy and they want to be as efficient as possible in not dragging 100's of extra unused kilograms around the race course. For a boat that weighs 15,840 kg this may not seem important, but there is tremendous effort this and most Maxi teams place on the performance of their high-tech carbon racing yachts that is dependent on tracking every kilo on board.

Using the latest weather GRIB files and running scenarios in their routing software, navigators are spreading rumors of very fast - even record-breaking - elapsed times that lie ahead.

For example, on the Farr 100 LEOPARD 3 in the Maxi class the team reckons they could get around this course in as little as 48 hours...if so, this would smash the current record of 63H 02M 20S set last year by Phillipp Kadelbach's Elliot 52 RAFALE, an extremely fast canting-keeled race boat like LEOPARD but only half the length.

Yet this kind of optimistic prediction made by routing software does not take into account the localized effects found around the course, such as katabatic wind effects associated with being in close proximity to some of the larger islands, such as Kassos, Karpathos and Rodos at the southern end of the race course and Mykonos at the northern end of the course.

These local effects can produce wind conditions that range widely from flat calm to localized gusts reaching gale force in strength.

All teams need to be ready for this, including Chavdar Aleksandrov's MAT 1220 IVANA AND ALEKS from Bulgaria racing in ORC Class 2.

"For me this is going to be the first time I'm doing this offshore race," said Aleksandrov's team mate Zornitsa Dimitrova. "It's going to be very interesting because I've been cruising around the islands for so many years but I've never had the chance to experience all the shifts of the winds, the thermals and the shifts around the islands. Do it's going to be pretty amazing I think, and very challenging."

Before heading out tomorrow from their berths at Olympic Marine, teams were today able to enjoy taking in some of the rich history of the Region of Attica with a tour of the Temple of Poseidon at Cape Sounio, the site of the start of the race. Built on the ruins of an earlier Archaic era temple constructed about 700 BC, the current temple was built between 444-440 BC by Pericles, who also rebuilt the Parthenon in Athens.

Its location is thought to have been connected with the increasing strength and prominence of merchant trade as well as the Athenian navy, who managed to defeat Xerxes with his numerically superior Persian force at the Battle of Salamis in 480 BC. The victorious Greek alliance of Athens, Sparta and several other city-states threatened by the Persians had assembled an impressive fleet of nearly 400 triremes. Many were built and paid for by the wealth of silver, copper and lead extracted from mines near Lavrion, which were still in limited production as late as 1978.

It is this mined wealth of Attica and the clever allied Greek victory at Salamis that is often credited with having saved Western Civilization's roots in Athenian democratic principles of government. Not many other offshore sailing events are tied to such an impressive history.

The fleet will be assembling tomorrow for their 14:00 start time, ready to conquer what the forces of wind and sea present to them in the Aegean, just as countless generations of mariners have done for centuries. The modern AEGEAN 600 honors this tradition.

For those unable to participate themselves but interested in sailing the race digitally, there is a Virtual Regatta ready for them...more information at aegean600.com/vr.

Once the race starts on Sunday the event's YB tracker system will display the positions, boat speeds and headings during the race. This is available at cf.yb.tl/aegean6002023.

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