The 8th edition of the RORC Caribbean 600 started in spectacular style with the record 70-yacht fleet gathering in the starting area outside English Harbour, Antigua. Under the Pillars of Hercules, the magnificent collection of yachts started the 600 mile race around 11 Caribbean islands. Five highly competitive starts thrilled hundreds of spectators lining the cliffs at Shirley Heights and Fort Charlotte. Not only was this a record fleet for the RORC Caribbean 600, it was undoubtedly the highest quality of participants since the inaugural race in 2009.

Phaedo3 smash the '600 after epic battle

Hurtling around the Caribbean at speeds in excess of 30 knots and topping out nearer 40, often barely a boat length apart, the epic duel between MOD70s Concise 10 and Phaedo3came to a conclusion after 32 hours of hot racing. Lloyd Thornburg’s MOD70 Phaedo3, co-skippered by Brian Thompson crossed the finish line at Fort Charlotte in an elapsed time of 31 hours, 59 minutes, 4 seconds, breaking their own multihull race record set last year by 1 hour 34 minutes 26 seconds. Barely out of sight of each other the entire race, Tony Lawson's MOD70 Concise 10, skippered by Ned Collier Wakefield was just 9 minutes 52 seconds behind.

“Since we set the record last year we have got a lot better; our manoeuvres are improved and we are sailing a better course. This is the best group of sailors I have sailed with; there is nobody I would rather sail with than this group of guys. We weren't thinking about the record at any stage because we were so focused on match racing Concise. We had to dig deep and they were doing the same; they gave us a hell of a race,” commented Lloyd Thornburg, Owner/Skipper MOD70, Phaedo3.

Comanche takes Monohull Line Honours

Jim Clark & Kristy Hinze Clark's American VPLP-Verdier 100 Comanche crossed the finish line of the RORC Caribbean 600 with an elapsed time of 40 hours 53 minutes 2 seconds taking monohull line honours for the race, just 33 minutes outside record pace.

“Comanche is built to come in first to finish and when Mother Nature co-operates we have the pedigree to break records,” was skipper Ken Read’s reaction to the wind coming from the south-east, making the leg from St Marten to Guadeloupe a beat, which for previous record holder Rambler 100 was a fast fetch. “Going around these islands is a ball; whales breaching, volcanoes smoking, it doesn't get any better than that. We will be back, I promise you – this is a great race,” continued Read.

Maxi72, Proteus wins RORC Caribbean 600 Trophy

A thrilling race between four Maxi72s came to a conclusion on the third day of the RORC Caribbean 600. With the lead changing hands on numerous occasions, George Sakellaris'Proteus was the first Maxi72 to finish the race, just over 20 minutes ahead of Dieter Schön'sMomo with Sir Peter Ogden's Jethou third. Last year's overall winner, Hap Fauth's Bella Menteretired with keel problems.

Proteus completed the course in an elapsed time of 48 hours 22 minutes 16 seconds to score the best time after IRC correction to win the RORC Caribbean 600 Trophy. Proteus was also the winner of the highly competitive IRC Zero class.

“We have beaten some great boats and the sailing was great, and we had a beautiful venue. During the race we had boat-on-boat action with all of the Maxi72s; Bella Mente, Jethou and Momo and their teams are all great sailors. I would like to congratulate all competitors for attending such a great, great event. I am glad to have been part of it. We hope to be back next year,” commented George Sakellaris, owner/skipper Maxi72, Proteus.

Teasing Machine show their Class

Eric De Turkheim's French A13, Teasing Machine finished the RORC Caribbean 600 in an elapsed time of 68 hours to win IRC One and claim third overall for the race. In eight editions of the RORC Caribbean 600, no other boat under 50ft has made the podium for the overall prize.

Eric De Turkheim, owner/skipper Teasing Machine said: “It was a big trip to get the boat here from Australia, including sailing 1,500 miles upwind from Panama, but we knew we had the potential to do well in this race. This is a great race and I will always remember the leg from La Desirade to Barbuda, averaging 15 knots for 140 miles with full sail and warm water cascading down the deck; it couldn't be better. We like to win but not at any cost. The ambience on board is fantastic and we were often toasting our performance with a small glass of red wine!”


Fourth Title for 'Scarlet
Ross Applebey's British Oyster 48, Scarlet Oyster finished the race in an elapsed time of 78 hours 11 minutes 12 seconds to win IRC Two for the fourth time.

“That was not an easy victory. At Saba we were last but one on the water. The crew dug in deep for the beat to St. Barths; we clawed our way through the fleet and got into a good position for the big reach to Guadeloupe. Scarlet Oyster is very well set up for reaching and we edged ahead. The whole IRC Two fleet was south of Guadeloupe together, so we were never comfortable, especially as Andy's (Middleton) EH01 stayed with us all the way. I am never going to pretend Scarlet Oyster is a Maxi72, but we are proof that you can come to play on a charter boat and win at one of the world's greatest offshore races. Scarlet Oyster has a regular core crew and I always tell new members to the team that the '600 is a tough race and we push hard.” Ross Applebey, owner/skipper, Oyster 48, Scarlet Oyster.

Irish eyes are smiling

After a tremendous battle between Conor Fogerty's Irish Sunfast 36, Bam and Susann Wrede's German Swan 44, Best Buddies. Bam took line honours in an elapsed time of 83 hours 1 minutes 7 seconds. Bam also won IRC One by just over six minutes. The team on Bam are all Irish, bar Welshman Roger Smith and all live in Dublin.

“Conor and all the team were over the moon; we have never sailed together as a crew before, so to come here and win our class is brilliant. As the smallest boat racing in IRC and an amateur team, we knew it was going to be tough and the most important thing was just to keep going. Best Buddies kept reeling us in on the upwind legs and we were faster downwind. It was very tense at the finish. From a navigational point of view this is the toughest race I have done, the course is fabulous and you are always thinking about the next move,” said Bam crew member, Simon Knowles.

Spanish success

The magnificent 213ft Spanish schooner, Adix completed the race in an elapsed time of 2 days 19 hours 33 minutes 5 seconds and Gonzalo Botin's Spanish Class40, Tales II finished over three hours before Adix. Both yachts are sailed by the same Spanish family. Tales II was also the winner of the Class40 division for the third year in a row, breaking their own Class40 record by 11 minutes and 23 seconds to set a new Class40 record of 2 days 16 hours 26 minutes 29 seconds.

“We had to do the last beat with our staysail so we thought the record was out of reach. On our family duel with Adix, all I can say is that I always thought it would be close in spite of the size and other differences. We did worry when we saw her lights in Guadeloupe only five miles astern. Fortunately at the end we managed to pull away. I can't wait to hear what the guys on the big boat have to say,” commented Gonzalo Botin, owner of Class40, Tales II.

Great Eights

Antiguan entry Bernie Evan-Wong, racing RP37, Taz is the only skipper to have competed in all eight editions of the race: “I had an awesome crew for this race and it is the fastest that I have ever done, so that is just great. We pushed really hard, we blew out a few sails but I didn't want the crew to say we didn't really go for it. The most memorable moment for me was passing within a boat length of the 100ft Comanche at night; absolutely amazing. She was gone with a flash. I was very thankful that we had a night moon and that they saw us.”

Piet Vroon's Ker 51, Tonnerre 4 competed for the second year in a row. A back operation prevented Piet from taking part last year, but the 85 year-old Dutch master was racing this year, as captured by race photographer, Tim Wright at Redonda.

The 9th edition of the RORC Caribbean 600 will start in Antigua on 20th February 2017