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AEGEAN 600 off to a spectacular start

by AEGEAN 600 9 Jul 2023 15:12 PDT 7-15 July 2023
2023 AEGEAN 600 © Nikos Alevromytis

With picture-prefect conditions of clear skies, azure seas and 12-15 knots of northeast wind, the 3rd edition of the AEGEAN 600 is off to a spectacular start. This offshore classic race is organized by the Hellenic Offshore Racing Club (HORC) and co-organized by the Region of Attica, Olympic Marine and supported by the Deputy Ministry of Sports. The fleet of 45 entries from 16 countries started in three successive waves starting with a short upwind leg to a windward mark placed just under the sea cliffs of Cape Sounio, with the ancient Temple of Poseidon as a fitting backdrop and perfect platform for shoreside spectators.

After rounding the mark to starboard the fleet sped off on a high-speed headsail reach course to the southeast towards Milos, the first Aegean island on the 605-mile course. The leaders in this pack were Chris Sherlock's Farr 100 LEOPARD 100 followed by Grzegorz Baranowski's Volvo 70 I LOVE POLAND, who were at the left turn at the south of the island only 5 hours into the race before heading east towards Santorini.

"There are a lot of challenges on this course for us as a big boat," said LEOPARD tactician Mitch Booth. "The islands you have to zig zag through very small channels, some of them at night in strong winds - on a 100-footer this can be a handful. Sail changes are the key."

LEOPARD and I LOVE POLAND will make the transit tonight in the dark of the caldera with the surrounding cliff tops lit up by the town perched at the caldera's edge. The slower members of the fleet will make this transit several hours later in daylight and marvel at one of the most spectacular sights on this scenic race course.

"People are starting to love the AEGEAN 600," said Athanasios (Soulis) Papantoniou, the Technical Director for this year's AEGEAN 600, who is one of the top race managers in the world, with experience from five Olympic Games and many other prominent sailing events around the world. "Similar races are held in many parts of the world but they don't have the beauty of the AEGEAN 600. Some of the other 600-mile races are in a straight course. Here in Greece they pass through all the islands of the South Aegean and have many different routes. The AEGEAN 600 is a different challenge for sailors and that's why everyone now wants to take part despite the fact that they are reaching their limits due to the difficulties they have to face."

One fleet member who faced these difficulties was a favorite among the Maxis. George Sakellaris' Maxi 72 PROTEUS from the USA retired early with a mast track problem that has kept them from competing on this challenging course without facing even more damage. The boat and crew are safely berthed back in Lavrion awaiting repairs.

In corrected time scoring, the current leaders on the race course are I LOVE POLAND in the Maxi Class and IRC scoring, Nikos Lazos and Periklis Livas's Carkeek 47 OPTIMUM SAMOS STEAMSHIP in ORC scoring, Pietro Fariello's Otremer 4X LYNX in MOCRA and Division 2 & 3 scoring, and Paris Kyriacopoulos' XP 44 FOXY LADY - MOTODYNAMICS in the X Yachts division.

Tonight and tomorrow the fleet is expected to encounter a strong the Meltemi breeze in the range of 15-25 knots as they transit further east and south down the main axis of the Aegean Sea - perfect conditions for a fast race.

The fleet can be followed in near-real time (with a 30-minute delay) using the YB tracker system, accessed at this link: cf.yb.tl/aegean6002023.

"The images of this race will travel around the world through our media channels and Greece will be at the center of world sailing for another year" said Mr. Ioannis Maragoudakis, Commodore of the Hellenic Offshore Racing Club. "We are particularly happy for the progress of the event in terms of entries, but mainly for its quality upgrade with the participation of 11 MAXI boats. The AEGEAN 600 is now established in the global offshore sailing community."

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