Saturday, February 17, 2018

RORC Caribbean 600 Race Preview

J/122 El Ocaso sailing Caribbean
(Falmouth Harbour, Antigua)- With 87 yachts registered, the 10th edition of the RORC Caribbean 600 will have another record fleet. Teams from at least 22 nations have entered the Caribbean's most famous offshore race.

Since 2009, yachts from Great Britain and America have made up the majority of the fleet, and this year is no different with the two countries accounting for over 30 entries. For the 10th edition however, a significant number of entries from France will be on the start line on Monday 19th February in Antigua. The thrilling 600nm race around the central Caribbean includes three French islands as marks of the course; Guadeloupe, Saint Martin and Saint-Barthélemy.

While last year saw very bizarre, very “un-Caribbean” like weather, with light westerlies, rain, northerlies, and the classic easterlies all affecting different parts of the course, the “locals” believe this year’s event will see more “classic” conditions.  The ideal scenario (and the reason why the course designed) is fresh easterlies with occasional overnight squally clouds punctuating the race track; that makes for a very fun, fast race.

For the most part, if the breezes remain in the ENE quadrants, it’s a very “reachy” race, with a few small beats interspersed (Saba to St Barth, around St Maarten, Les Saintes to Les Desirade, and Redonda to the Antigua finish).  If the breeze turns more ESE, instead it can produce one long 183nm windward beat into big seas from the most northern part of the course- Tintamarre- on a SSE 152 degree heading to Les Saintes Rock off the southwest corner of Guadeloupe. Even then, the fleet has often encountered a windward beat for 57nm between Les Saints and Les Desirade across the southeastern shoreline of Guadeloupe.  In short, good strategy, solid navigation, and a bit of luck is necessary to succeed on this race.
J/122 sailing Caribbean
Half of the fleet is under 50 feet.  And, in IRC Two, the three J/122s are all up to the task of taking on this challenging race course because it requires a strong all-around design like the 122.

Last year's winner and sixth overall, was the famous EL OCASO with captain Bob Hillier on board.  They will be up against Pamala Baldwin's LIQUID from Antigua and the fast French crew sailing Olivier Parchet & Bernard McGranaghan's NOISY OYSTER.

“It's exciting, exhilarating, exhausting and filled with the spirit of adventure. We are brave-hearts with a mission- to dig deep and give it our best. We learn to expect the unexpected. We bond and make lifelong friends and cherish priceless memories," says Ms Baldwin, owner of J/122 LIQUID.

Also, entered in the IRC 2 Class is the classic offshore J/44 cruiser/ racer- Kevin McLaughlin’s with a largely New England team. Sailing photo credits- Tim Wright/  For more RORC Caribbean 600 Race sailing information Add to Flipboard Magazine.