For the 12th edition of the RORC Caribbean 600, 21 teams – racing yachts of 50-feet or over – have already signed up for the 600-mile blast around 11 Caribbean Islands. These big guns amount to a third of the entries, and since the first race in 2009 they’ve dominated overall victory under IRC.
For the 2020 start on February 24, the trademark trade winds are expected to be pumping once again at 20+ knots with up to two meters of swell, and when combined with the course design, these stunning conditions allow the fast boats to go really fast.
Peter and David Askew (USA) racing the Volvo 70 Wizard (above) will be defending last year’s overall win. Wizard’s crew will include stars from the Volvo Ocean Race: Charlie Enright (USA), Robert Greenhalgh (GBR), Phil Harmer (AUS), Will Oxley (AUS), Mark Towill (USA), Curtis Blewett (CAN), and Richard Clarke (CAN).
“It’s the toughest 600-mile race in the world. Lots of turns and always windy,” commented Peter Askew. “The course in general is what makes the event unique; sailing for 600 miles through all the islands is a blast and the beautiful trade wind sailing conditions are perfect for our boat.”
Ron O’Hanley (USA) racing Cookson 50 Privateer was the overall winner in 2013 and came second overall to Rambler 88 in 2018. Boat Captain Scott Innes-Jones (NZL) is looking forward to racing in 2020.
“Privateer is a good all-rounder, so we need a bit of everything,” commented Innes-Jones. “If we just get big reaching, the bigger boats put us away, but if there are a couple of slow spots we can come back at them. To win you have to sail well and have a bit of luck, everything has got to go your way.”
Race founder and long-standing RORC member John Burnie (GBR) will be taking part in his tenth race on board the Swan 95 Lot 99, the largest Maxi entered to date.
“In Caribbean conditions waterline length is quite critical and it’s a very thrilling ride,” commented Burnie. “So much of the course is fast reaching, especially Tintamarre to Guadeloupe and La Désirade to the Barbuda mark. However, these legs are unlike other long races, as even on a Maxi, the corners come up fast and you can’t really relax – you are always preparing for the next maneuver.
“This makes for fantastic sailing, particularly at night when it is absolutely sensational. Teamwork is everything, as inevitably when you race on a boat of that size you have a range of sailors that have come together.”
The 2019 RORC Caribbean 600 attracted 76 teams from 21 countries and crews from six continents. Starting on February 18, the 11th edition sent the fleet on the iconic 600nm course that circumnavigates 11 Caribbean Islands starting from Fort Charlotte, English Harbour, Antigua and heads north as far as St Martin and south to Guadeloupe taking in Barbuda, Nevis, St Kitts, Saba and St Barth’s.
• Multihull record (2019) – Giovanni Soldini, Maserati, Multi 70 (ITA) – 30 hours, 49 minutes, 00 seconds
• Monohull record (2018) – George David, Rambler 88, Maxi (USA) – 37 hours, 41 minutes, 45 seconds
PREVIOUS WINNERS: RORC CARIBBEAN 600 TROPHY – IRC OVERALL
2019 – David and Peter Askew, Wizard, Volvo 70 (USA)
2018 – George David, Rambler 88, Maxi (USA)
2017 – Hap Fauth, Bella Mente, JV72 (USA)
2016 – George Sakellaris, Maxi 72, Proteus (USA)
2015 – Hap Fauth, JV72, Bella Mente (USA)
2014 – George Sakellaris, RP72, Shockwave (USA)
2013 – Ron O’Hanley, Privateer, Cookson 50 (USA)
2012 – Niklas Zennström’s JV72, Rán (GBR)
2011 – George David, Rambler 100, JK 100 (USA)
2010 – Karl C L Kwok, Beau Geste, Farr 80 (HKG)
2009 – Adrian Lee, Lee Overlay Partners, Cookson 50 (IRL)
Source: Louay Habib