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North Sails Performance 2023 - LEADERBOARD

RORC Caribbean 600 - Leopard 3 dare to dream

by Louay Habib 21 Feb 15:21 PST 21 February 2024

Farr 100 Leopard 3 (MON) skippered by Joost Schuijff took Monohull Line Honours in the 2024 RORC Caribbean 600 in an elapsed time of 02 Days 01 Hrs 23 Mins and 18 Secs.

Leopard 3 Crew: Joost Schuijff, Chris Sherlock, Mitch Booth, Aaron Reynolds-Lovegrove, Antonio Cuervas Mons, Carlos Hernandez Robayna, Charlie Wyatt, Dennis Frederiksen, Gerard Mitchell, Gian Ahluwalia, Giles de Jager, Guillermo Altadill, Mark Bartlett, Matthew Lester, Paul Standbridge, Samuel Wright, Stephen Booth, Tom McWilliam, Will Best.

This is Leopard 3's ninth RORC Caribbean 600 and while the canting keel Maxi has taken the gun on two previous occasions, Leopard 3 has never won the race overall under IRC for the RORC Caribbean 600 Trophy. Leopard 3 has set the bar on IRC corrected time for all of the 36 boats still racing under IRC and must now wait for the overall winner to be decided. The biggest threat to Leopard for the overall title are all racing in IRC Zero that are about 100 miles from the finish in Antigua.

"I started racing Leopard some 5-6 years ago," commented skipper Joost Schuijff. After major changes, including taking 10 tons of weight out of the boat and installing a new mast, we're seeing the rewards for all that work. However, the most important aspect is the training of the crew; it's all about the people. The teamwork on Leopard is all important. This is my second RORC Caribbean 600 and with Leopard it can be challenging. This year we saw 30 knot squalls and with big sail area up that can be quite scary, but I really enjoy this race. Sailing in the tropics is picturesque, the scenery is really beautiful and racing against good competition is a perfect combination."

Leopard 3 led right from the start of the RORC Caribbean 600, opening up a lead of about 30 miles on the nearest competition; Wally 107 Spirit of Malouen X (FRA). However, as Leopard 3 passed through the wind shadow of Guadeloupe the lead almost evaporated as Spirit of Malouen X appeared on the horizon.

Leopard's Chris Sherlock commented: "We know the boat Spirit of Malouen well as it has won the Maxi Worlds twice. For the '600 the TP52 Paprec Sailing Team was racing on board, so we knew that we needed to sail very well to beat them. I have to say I am very pleased that we did the RORC Nelson's Cup prior to the '600 because we were sharp for the big race. In all the years we have raced Leopard we have never had such intense racing practice before and that definitely paid off big time."

Leopard 3 is now 17 years old and probably faster now than she has ever been. The boat has taken Line Honours and set records all over the world, but apart from the Aegean 600, this would be Leopard's first big win on IRC corrected time. Neither Skipper Joost Schuijff, nor Chris Sherlock have commented on the possibility of an overall win. However, Leopard has finished the race and the wind is becoming unstable for the boats behind - can Leopard dare to dream?

For more information go to RORC Caribbean 600 website, caribbean600.rorc.org

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