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Cyclops Marine 2023 November - LEADERBOARD

A Remarkable RORC Caribbean 600

by Louay Habib 25 Feb 20:43 PST 26 February 2024

The 15th edition of the RORC Caribbean 600 started in glorious conditions on Monday 19th February 2024. Sixty-four boats took on the challenge, with 561 sailors from all over the world competing in the 600-mile race around 11 Caribbean islands. A glorious start with tradewinds pumping up to 17 knots prevailed for 48 hours. Towards the end of the race, more unstable weather conditions produced a complex and tactical battle with wind reports ranging from flat calm to 30 knots in squalls.

The overall winner under IRC of the 2024 RORC Caribbean 600 was Farr 100 Leopard 3 (MON) skippered by Joost Schuijff. Second was Niklas Zennstrom's Carkeek 52 Rán (SWE). Peter & David Askew's Botin 52 Wizard (USA) completed the overall podium.

Full results available here.

The prize-giving for the RORC Caribbean 600 was held on the lawn at the Antigua Yacht Club. Guests of honour were the Governor General of Antigua and Barbuda, Sir Rodney Williams and Minister of Tourism and Civil Aviation, Hon. Charles 'Max' Fernandez. RORC CEO Jeremy Wilton was master of ceremonies and introduced RORC Commodore Deb Fish to the main stage.

Overall race winner Leopard 3 was one of the RORC Caribbean 600 founding entries, setting the original monohull race record in 2009, and taking Monohull Line Honours again in 2013. However, this year was the first occasion in nine attempts that Leopard 3 has won the race overall under IRC. Leopard 3 is now 17 years old but is faster than ever due to a major refit by the new owners.

"It is a magnificent experience and a very special feeling," commented Joost Schuijff. "When I look at the Trophy I see so many names of such famous boats. I am delighted for the team that the name Leopard 3 will be engraved there too. It's all about the people and not just the race crew, but also the permanent crew and the build team - the team is super important; without the right people you cannot get the maximum performance from Leopard. Winning in Antigua is also special because myself and my family love coming here; the area is so nice and people are so friendly. To win the RORC Caribbean 600 in such a historic place for yachting is extraordinary."

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.

IRC Super Zero

Leopard 3 roared home in the IRC Super Zero Class winning by over six hours after IRC time correction. Marten 72 Aragon (NED) skippered by Nadina Balena was second and fifth overall. Third by less than an hour after IRC time correction was Wally 107 Spirit of Malouen X, skippered by Stephane Nieve and crewed by the Paprec Sailing Team.

Multihull Class

Jason Carroll's MOD70 Argo (USA) took Multihull Line Honours in the 2024 Caribbean 600 in an elapsed time of 01 Day 08 Hrs 08 Mins and 40 Secs.

Erik Maris' MOD70 Zoulou (FRA) was the second boat to finish, just 19 minutes behind Zoulou after over 32 hours of intense racing. Alexia Barrier's MOD70 Limosa - The Famous Project (FRA), co-skippered by Dee Caffari completed the Multihull Line Honours and MOCRA podium, finishing the race less than four hours behind Argo.

"This year's race is like any other; it isn't over until the final beat," commented Argo's Jason Carroll. "We may not have had many lead changes, but Zoulou was right behind us at every single turn. Zoulou was forever closing in on us and we had to keep finding ways to protect our position. Honestly, I think Zoulou has shown a big step up in performance since the RORC Transatlantic Race; they were faster than us in a few situations. Limosa - The Famous Project has also shown a big improvement, which is great for them. They were very close with us and Zoulou the entire time; it's great to see them refining their performance. The RORC Caribbean 600 is a great race, this was my fifth, I have never done that many in any other offshore race."

IRC Zero

Niklas Zennström's Carkeek 52 Rán (SWE) won a highly contested battle in the hi-tech class. Peter & David Askew's Botin 52 Wizard (USA) was second by just three minutes and 10 seconds after IRC time correction. Third was Frederic Puzin's Ker 46 Daguet 3 (FRA), just seven minutes after IRC time correction ahead of Jon Desmond's Mills 41 Final Final (USA).

Niklas Zennström was delighted with the class win; tinged with a little frustration at just missing out on the overall to Leopard 3 by under two hours after IRC time correction.

"We did as much as we could; we sailed a really good race and Steve (Hayles) and Bouwe (Bekking) made very good calls. The end was a bit of an odd feeling; Leopard 3 had beaten us and at Redonda it was frustrating to stall with no wind and see Wizard coming with breeze, so hanging on to beat Wizard was a bit of a relief.

"Once you step ashore and think about it, you ask yourself; did we sail as good as we could? Did we make any stupid mistakes? The answer is that we sailed well, but sometimes you are on the wrong side of a cloud and sometimes not; that is part of the sport. Did we have a good time? Absolutely, you have to play your strategy well and as far as luck goes, this year we didn't have weather for our class to win overall, eventually that will even out. If we could race again tomorrow, we probably would, that is how good this race is," concluded Zennström.

Class40

Sogestran Seafrigo LHOR One (FRA) skippered by Guillaume Pirouelle won a nail-biting thriller in the 11 strong Class40 Division. Melwin Fink's Sign for Com (GER) was second and third was James McHugh's Tequila. A fierce battle for supremacy came to a dramatic conclusion after three days and nights of boat-on-boat combat.

There was a final twist to the thrilling Class40 battle; Jules Bonnier's Nestenn-Entrepreneurs pour la Planète (FRA) came from behind, to cross the line first but was penalised for entering an exclusion zone at Montserrat. Second over the line and Class40 victory went to Sogestran Seafrigo LHOR One, with Sign for Com second and Tquila third.

"We are all from Normandy in France and very proud to have won this great race," commented LHOR One's skipper Guillaume Pirouelle. "The Sogestran Seafrigo LHOR One project is designed to give experience to Class40 sailors from Normandy and all of the crew come from either Cherbourg or Le Havre. This has been a very hard race on the mind. The course is fantastic with so many options which allows for many gains and losses throughout."

IRC One

Richard Fromentin's JPK 1180 Cocody (FRA) won IRC One by over four hours from Andrew & Sam Hall's Lombard 46 Pata Negra (GBR). 2023 class champion, Dan Litchfield's Nielsen 59 Hound (USA, was just over an hour behind Pata Negra after IRC time correction.

Cocody was the class winner and second overall for the RORC Transatlantic Race and a highly impressive fourth overall for the RORC Caribbean 600. Cocody's crew for the race was strengthened by Vendée Globe legend Jean-Pierre Dick.

"This was a very technical race, because there were a lot of traps everywhere" commented Fromentin. "The island wind shadows and the weather conditions made the race very complex but it was still a very beautiful race and a lot of fun."

For the first 24 hours of the race Cocody was locked in a battle with two other JPK 1180s; Sunrise powered by Zen (AUS) and Dawn Treader (GBR). "We managed to get ahead of the other two JPK 1180s and the more we got ahead, the more the weather changes went to our advantage. This was the first race for all the team, except for Jean Pierre Dick who knows the course very well and without his expertise it would have been very difficult for us to win. In many ways, this race is similar to our home in Brittany; in coastal races we have to understand the land effects just as here!"

IRC Two

Peter McWhinnie's JPK 1080 In Theory (USA) completed a hattrick of class wins in the Caribbean 600 winning in 2020, 2023 and now in 2024. Gavin Howe's Sun Fast 3600 Tigris (GBR) was runner up and Enrico Calvi's Dufour 34 Duffy (ITA) was third.

"We had some really tight racing with Tigris and Panacea X; we were just a few miles apart all the way to St. Martín," commented Peter McWhinnie. "They never really went away; it was a fantastic contest. We got a little lucky with a squall going up to Les Desirade and got some separation. It gave us a bit of an edge and the last part of the race was relatively comfortable after days of intense racing. In past races we were the smaller boat in class but this year we were being hunted, that was different, as was the full moon which gave just spectacular night racing. We saw a whale breach within half a mile of the boat, which is a first, but what hasn't changed is this is a spectacular course and also the professionalism and hospitality of the RORC Caribbean 600 is first class," commented McWhinnie.

IRC Two-Handed

Jeremi Jablonski Hanse 430 Avanti (USA) was the winner of IRC Two-Handed, racing with co-skipper Marek Mirota. Nathalie Criou's Figaro 2 Envolee (USA) was runner up, racing with Berenice Charrez.

"We were within talking distance of Envolee for most of the race," commented Jeremi Jablonski." Although it took us much longer to finish this year, the competition was great. Avanti and Envolee are very different boats but our IRC rating is very similar and we both had strengths and weaknesses in different conditions. Both of us were tweaking the trim and changing sails to get the best performance."

"It's a special night," commented Race Director Steve Cole at the RORC Caribbean 600 Prizegiving. "An occasion where the winners get cheered by their competitors. It is a fun night for all the sailors, plus the Antiguan yachting community, many of which are the invaluable volunteers for the race that man the finish line and greet every boat back to Antigua with warm smiles and cold Carib Beer. I am sure that I speak for all of the competitors in thanking them for their commitment and hard work, and we look forward to welcoming everyone back next year."

The last boat to finish the RORC Caribbean 600 was Charles McDonald's Samoa 46 from the Royal Cape YC, South Africa, racing with a crew from South Africa, USA and Guernsey, Channel Islands. The team, who had sent back to the media team great drone videos, images and a regular blog of life during the race, were given a heart-felt reception as they arrived in Antigua after nearly 6 days at sea. They may have missed the final prize-giving and celebrating with their fellow competitors, but they were determined to finish what they'd started.

The 2025 Caribbean 600 will start from Fort Charlotte on 17th February, it will be preceded by the third edition of the RORC Nelson's Cup Series. RORC racing now switches to European racing with the RORC Easter Challenge 29-31 March. The world's largest offshore racing series, the RORC Season's Points Championship, continues with the Cervantes Trophy Race starting on 20th April.

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

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