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Cyclops Marine 2023 November - LEADERBOARD

One day to Battle in the 2024 AEGEAN 600

by AEGEAN 600 6 Jul 11:21 PDT 5-13 July 2024
Yesterday's Attica warm-up race battles - AEGEAN 600 © Deea Buzdugan

Amid clear blue skies, warm sun, and a brisk Meltemi breeze buffeting Lavrion at the Olympic Marine venue, the assembled fleet readies itself for battle in tomorrow's start of the 4th edition of the AEGEAN 600, organized by the Hellenic Offshore Racing Club (HORC) and Olympic Marine.

The largest fleet ever assembled in the 4-year history of this 605-mile race - 69 monohulls and multihulls hailing from 24 nations - are being sailed by hundreds of sailors from all over the world. They are making their final preparations with their boat, their rigging, their sails, their provisions and themselves for what looks to be a fast and challenging race ahead.

The weather forecast for tomorrow's start and the first few days of the race is for the northerly Meltemi winds to continue to provide perfect 15-25 knot conditions throughout most areas of the race course. This starts with a short upwind leg from the start line to a windward mark placed at Cape Sounio under the Ancient Temple of Poseidon.

The fleet will then be off to a series of fast legs reaching and running their way downwind to the first turn at the island of Milos, then through a gate at the spectacular caldera of Santorini, before then heading further south to round the island of Kasos at the southernmost end of the course.

The focus on being adequately prepared for these conditions is especially keen among the four teams from France, Greece and Poland who are facing this challenge sailing with only two crew in the Double Handed (DH) division. This format of offshore sailing has grown in interest throughout the world for its practical simplicity by having a small crew but also its challenge for that crew to optimize their performance throughout the duration of the race.

The DH division here this year includes Jerry Petratos and Evi Delidou racing on their Dehler 30 AETHER (GRE), Andrea Carracci and Alexander Trilsbach racing on their Class 40 STELLA NOVA (FRA), Miroslaw Zemke and Ryszard Szostak on their Dehler 41 HOBART (POL) and Michalis Aftias and Alexandre Cote on the largest boat in this division, the Pogo 50 EROS (FRA).

"We are friends and enjoy sailing together, but this is our first race," admitted Aftias, who is based locally and has participated in numerous Aegean races. Cote underplays any advantage they have being in the largest boat in the division, saying "I'm just a tourist. I have a lot of shorthanded sailing experience with my family, but Alex is our secret weapon with his local knowledge."

Based on what they see in the relatively consistent weather forecast and the numerous legs in the race course, Aftias says there are only a few key decision points they see ahead.

"The first might be if the wind really picks up to be strong on the way to Milos we may want to be in the middle of the leg rather on either side where it could be windier and we cannot safely fly our large A2 spinnaker," he said.

The next is after getting through the light air lee of Rhodes and whether to favor a more northerly track closer to the Turkish coast or striking out straight west. "The forecast seems to favor being further west to be in more consistent wind strength, but the decision may depend on the angle," he said. No doubt there will be other decision points further in the course as the forecast evolves.

While the DH Division teams are expected to be finishing on Wednesday evening or Thursday, the excellent conditions are going to be luring the very fastest teams in the fleet towards setting a possible new Multihull course record that stands now at 2D 5H 36M 2S, set in 2022 by Adrian Keller's ALLEGRA (SUI). This time indicates an average speed around the course of 11.3 knots, a speed easily outpaced for this year's fastest multihulls: Jason Carroll's ARGO (USA) and Erik Maris's ZOULOU (FRA), two VPLP-designed MOD 70's.

The MOD 70 trimarans are truly the ocean greyhounds of our age, routinely achieving elapsed time victories and course records wherever they go. Besides being optimized for high-speed performance with foiling appendages, both teams are loaded with talent here at the AEGEAN 600, such as Loick Peyron on ZOULOU and Brian Thompson and World Speed Sailing Record holder Paul Larsen on ARGO.

ARGO project manager Chad Corning said "Our routing shows 1D 11H, we are fairly confident in that at this stage. We've been training with ZOULOU all week and we'll definitely have a battle, especially with it looking like a restart at Rhodes. They are hungry and motivated to beat us for sure."

Doing the math, 1D 11H is an average speed of an impressive 18.3 knots around the race course and not only crushes the Multihull record, but would also cut 10 hours off the Monohull record of 1D 21H 5M 25S set last year by the Farr 100 LEOPARD 3 (MON).

The MOD 70 battle and all others among the DH, full-crew ORC and IRC divisions and the Multihulls will commence with the first start scheduled tomorrow at 1400 GDT.

Follow the AEGEAN 600 fleet's progress in real time on the YB tracker website: cf.yb.tl/aegean6002024

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