Tim Wright / RORC / www.photoaction.com

Record pace

Lloyd Thornburg's MOD70 Phaedo3 performs a horizon job in the RORC Caribbean 600

Tuesday February 24th 2015, Author: RORC, Location: none selected

By dawn on the second day of the RORC Caribbean 600, the majority of the 64-strong fleet was negotiating the chicane of islands at the northern end of the course, between Saba, St Maarten and St Barths. However Lloyd Thornburg's MOD 70 Phaedo3 was literally miles ahead of the fleet. Screaming down the big reach out of St Barths, Phaedo3 entered the lee of Guadeloupe at 0300 this morning. The electric green tri has been averaging 20+ knots boat speed since the start and if she can hold this pace will smash the course record by 10 hours.

In comparison George David's maxi, Rambler 88 has averaged 15 knots and at 0600 this morning had reached the halfway stage of the course on track to set a new monohull record, provided she can maintain her present pace.


Meanwhile the battle is on for the overall winner of the RORC Caribbean 600 under IRC. At 0600, on handicap Hap Fauth's JV72 Bella Mente was leading the 54 yachts still racing. Rambler 88 remains over two hours behind Bella Mente on corrected time. These two yachts will be the first of the IRC fleet to enter the difficult passage in the lee of Guadeloupe.

Bella Mente's navigator, Ian Moore spoke about this prior to the start: "The RORC has decided that the tracker player will be switched off so that yachts cannot see how the competition negotiate the tricky wind shadow behind Guadeloupe. The wind is forecast to decrease in strength and shift to the south, just as Bella Mente arrive at the 'twilight zone'. We have been runner-up twice in this race and how well we handle the wind shadow may well decide our overall performance in the race."

Piet Vroon's Ker 51 Tonnerre 4 is having a full scale battle for IRC Zero and third overall with Peter Harrison's TP52 Sorcha. At 0600 this morning just one mile, or six minutes after time correction, was the separation. The two all-carbon fibre flyers are revelling in a high speed showdown relying on muscle power and shrewd tactics alone. Tonnerre 4's Frank Gerber sent in this message by satellite link: "Eyes stinging from the salt water firehouse, so excuse the poor spelling. Hard work so far, we have lost count of the sail changes but the boys are joking and smiling. Just passed St.Barths and we are still reeling from the adrenalin of the first leg to the laid mark where Paul Wilcox clocked 25 knots with the FR0 (fractional code 0), a wild wet ride."

IRC One feature several yachts enjoying a close battle. On corrected, James Blakemore's South African crew racing the Swan 53 Music was leading the class with William Coates' Texan Ker 43 Otra Vez second and the Oyster 625 Lady Mariposa, sailed by Daniel Hardy, third. In IRC Two, two old friends are fighting for the top of the leaderboard. Ross Applebey's Oyster 48 Scarlet Oyster and Andy Middleton's First 47.7, EH01 were recording the same average speed and the same distance to finish, heading to the northern most part of the course.

Lucy Reynold's Swan 51, Northern Child is going well, third in class. "We had a great start mid line going over the line within seconds of the gun," commented Reynolds. "Scarlet Oyster were to our leeward and EHO1 were to windward of us and I was happy we had a clear lane and didn't get stuck in the dirty air of other yachts. We tacked half a dozen times to stay close to the shore out of the stronger current and to get any lifts that were coming around the headlands. At Green Island, the bigger yachts ahead disappeared but it wasn't just due to boat speed, a ferocious squall with rain like daggers pelted the crew and the boat, but soon we had dried out, blasting towards Barbuda with our two rail hissing in the blue water. Before sunset we bore away around the Barbuda mark, eased the sheets and got ready to peel to the running asymmetric spinnaker. All manoeuvres complete, I have headed to my bunk to get some rest before we get to Nevis."

At dawn, the two gigantic schooners racing in the Superyacht Class are approaching a fascinating part of the course. Adela and Athos are side-by-side entering the Anguilla Channel. The crews of both yachts will be getting fully stuck into some major physical activity as the two yachts enjoy a tacking duel with 35 crew racing Athos and 34 on Adela. Adela leads on IRC handicap, but this battle is all about the first to finish and Skippers Greg Norwood-Perkins (Adela) and Antony Brookes (Athos) want the winner's barrel of English Harbour Rum to give to their crew back in Antigua.

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