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RORC Nelson's Cup Series - Racing, rum and revelling

by Louay Habib 12 Feb 08:06 PST 13 February 2024
Returning with his Carkeek 45 Ino Noir (GBR) - James Neville won the 2023 RORC Nelson's Cup Series on his previous boat © Rick Tomlinson /

The second edition of the RORC Nelson's Cup Series kicks off with racing from Tuesday 13th February. An international fleet of boats from 13 countries will be racing: Antigua; Australia; Canada; Cayman Islands; France; Germany; Great Britain; Monaco; Netherlands; South Africa; Sweden; Switzerland and the United States of America.

The intended schedule of races for the RORC Nelson's Cup Series is two races per day on the 13th and 14th February, followed by a lay day. The 52-mile Antigua 360, round the island race, will follow on the 16th February. After a two-day break from racing, the RORC Caribbean 600 Race completes the series with the 600-mile race starting on February the 19th.

The RORC Nelson's Cup Skippers Briefing and Welcome Party will be held at the Antigua Yacht Club on Monday 12th February from 1700. Download the full programme of events

A huge variety of raceboats will be racing under the IRC Rating Rule to decide class and the overall winner for the RORC Nelson's Cup Series. The RORC fleet includes a stunning fleet of carbon-fibre raceboats, round the world race yachts, Class40s and performance cruiser/racers. The Multihull Class will join the Series for the Antigua 360 Race.

IRC One | Top of the table clashes

Farr 100 Leopard 3 (MON) skippered by Joost Schuijff, and Wendy Schmidt's Botin 85 Deep Blue (CAY) are the headline boats in IRC One. The offshore multiple record holder Leopard 3 has both a canting keel and water-line length advantage. However, Deep Blue is moded for inshore racing and is significantly lighter. After IRC time correction Leopard 3 will give Deep Blue 130 seconds an hour.

A welcome back to RORC racing for Gilles Barbot and the Atlas Ocean Racing Team which will be racing the Juan K 70 Il Mostro (CAN). While it is unlikely that the pro-am team on Il Mostro can keep up with Leopard and Deep Blue on the water, Il Mostro receives 221 seconds an hour from Leopard under IRC time correction.

A fascinating first showdown will be between Niklas Zennstrom's CF520 Rán (SWE) and Peter and David Askew's Botin 52 Wizard (USA). The latest version of Rán is embarking on its second season, the Carkeek design was purpose built for IRC offshore racing and was the overall winner of the inaugural RORC Nelson's Cup Series. Wizard was originally built under the box rule constraints of the 2017 TP52 Class before being moded to offshore racing as Matt Allen's Ichi Ban; a three-time winner of the Rolex Sydney Hobart. Both boats are 52 feet in length, but Rán gives Wizard 40 seconds an hour in IRC time correction.

James Neville's former INO XXX was the winner of the Antigua 360 in the first edition of the RORC Nelson's Cup Series. Past RORC Commodore Neville is back with his new Carkeek 45 Ino Noir (GBR). Direct competition to Ino Noir will be Frederic Puzin's Ker 46 Daguet 3 (FRA) which was second to Rán in the 2023 RORC Nelson's Cup Series. Daguet 3 has a slight waterline length advantage, but after IRC time correction Ino Noir gives Daguet 3 157 seconds per hour.

Three forty-footers are equally matched under IRC rating. Hanno Ziehm's Marten 49 Moana (GER) impressed in the RORC Transatlantic Race, finishing fourth overall. Bruce Chafee's RP42 Rikki (USA) rates 20 points lower than Moana, giving the team from the Sakonnet Yacht Club a 57 seconds an hour to beat Moana on IRC corrected time. The smallest boat in IRC One is Jon Desmond's Mills 41 Final Final (USA). Jon is a member of the New York Yacht Club and is an expression of interest for the 2025 Admiral's Cup. Under IRC, Final Final receives 17 seconds an hour time correction from Rikki.

IRC Two | United Nations

Three teams that took part in January's RORC Transatlantic Race will be back on the start line, but this time for inshore racing. The in-form team for the smaller boat class is the young British crew racing Ed Bell's JPK 1180 Dawn Treader (GBR), who were third overall in the RORC Transatlantic Race.

Bernard Giroux's Solana 55 Team 42 (FRA) is the longest boat in the class and will be hoping for fast reaching conditions for the RORC Nelson's Cup Series. This will be a debut RORC Caribbean 600 for Team 42, but their skipper Dan Segalowicz has spent many years racing in the central Caribbean. Team 42 carries the highest IRC rating in the class, giving Dawn Treader 310 seconds an hour.

Frans van Cappelle and Michelle Witsenburg's J/122 Moana (NED) finished the RORC Transatlantic Race with a smaller crew, which has been increased for the RORC Nelson's Cup Series. The team of family and friends from the Yacht Club Scheveningen is competing in Antigua for the first time.

From the Royal Cape Yacht Club, Charles McDonald's Samoa 47 Argonaut (RSA) is a family-owned boat halfway through circumnavigating South America. The team claim to 'braai' (BBQ) as competitively as they race! However, five Cape2Rio races suggests that there is plenty of experience on board. Donald Macdonald (apparently no relation to Charles) hails from the Parkstone Yacht Club in Poole, UK and definitely has a sense of humour, naming his Salona 38 Bonkers (GBR). Donald MacDonald sailed the boat to Antigua from the UK via the Canaries with Jon Lyons. The pair intend to race the RORC Caribbean 600 in IRC Two-Handed.

The lowest rated boat for the RORC Nelson's Cup Series is the Antiguan Lapworth 39 Huey Too (ANT), owned by the legendary Antiguan dentist Bernie Evan-Wong, who has proudly flown the Antiguan flag at previous RORC Caribbean 600 races. It would take a miracle for Huey Too to beat the likes of Leopard 3 across the water. However, under IRC time correction, Huey Too receives a whopping 1,673 seconds per hour on Leopard. For example, if Leopard completes the Antigua 360 in five hours, Huey too will need to finish the 52-mile race in under nine and a half hours, which is by no means impossible!

The RORC Nelson's Cup Series features daily informal prize-givings at the Antigua Yacht Club, with English Harbour Five Year Old Rum and Carib Beer as prizes. The Antigua 360 Prizegiving is held at the Sevenstar Welcome Party on Saturday 17th February. The Overall and Class Winners for the RORC Nelson's Cup Series are celebrated at the RORC Caribbean 600 Prizegiving on Friday 23rd February. For more information visit:

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