Editorial Staff

Editorial Staff

RORC Caribbean 600 begins today

The 14th edition of the RORC Caribbean 600 starts this morning and seventy boats from all over the world are ready in Antigua for the non-stop 600nm race around 11 Caribbean islands.

With over 550 sailors from 30 nations taking part, the RORC Caribbean 600 is truly an international affair.

Today, the first warning signal will sound at Fort Charlotte for an epic race featuring a highly competitive and varied fleet of IRC Offshore boats, Class40s and Multihulls.

“With giant waves, gear failure, sea sickness, lack of sleep and all the other challenges involved in a contest of this difficulty, just crossing the finish line is often the accomplishment of a lifetime for the intrepid sailors brave enough to participate,” according to the organizers.

The 600 Nautical mile course will go around eleven Caribbean islands.   The fleet will first head north around St. Martin, then go south as far as the Les Saints off of Guadeloupe and finally north again with the race finishing back at Fort Charlotte.     

Maserati, a multihull 70 skippered by iconic  Italian yachtsmen, Giovanni Soldini, has returned  to Antigua looking to avenge last year’s  heart breaking loss of  first-to-finish honors  to Argo, the  MOD 70 multihull, skippered by American Jason Carroll.

Last year’s duel between these two modern day clipper ships produced a sensational 600 nautical mile neck and neck, back and forth battle  with Argo and Maserati exchanging  the lead four times, the last as Argo  slipped by Maserati  with three miles to the finish.  By beating Maserati by 2 minutes, Argo set the  new world record for fastest time  at 1 day 5 hours 29 minutes.  A record Giovanni Soldini and  the crew of Maserati hope to break starting at 11 today.

Last year, Antiguan Tristan Louwrens, 24.  sailing  on board American Christopher Sheehen’s Pac 52 Warrior Won, helped hoist the  elusive  Caribbean 6OO championship trophy for the overall winner. 

Seeking additional glory and a fast ride, Tristin is  racing onboard American Roy P. Disney’s Volvo 70, Pyewacket, which is one of  the most competitive boats in the fleet.   

Antiguans  Daniel Brown who is training to by a YRA sailing instructor and Zindane Martin who represented Antigua at the Caribbean Dingy championships are racing onboard the Australian Volvo 70 Green Dragon, skippered by Johannes Schwartz. 

Sailing once again in the super competitive IRC 1 class, Antigua’s Bernie Evan Wong will be lining up at the start onboard his RP 37-foot Taz.  Bernie holds the record for being the only sailor to have skippered or raced in all 14 RORC 600’s.  

With two class victories and trips to the podium on three other occasions, nobody has won more hardware in the 600 than Bernie. Yet Bernie says it’s not just about winning: “Last year we did not get on the podium and what I remember best from last year’s race was the awesome party after the prize giving! It’s not all about winning but participating and having fun!” 

Bernie is just celebrating his 70th birthday, and even if he finally wins the coveted Caribbean 600 trophy this year,( and he has almost won it twice), he has no plans to retire any time soon: “I hope to keep participating as long as I am still fit enough, but it is a physically demanding race”.  That being said, Bernie credits his longevity as an ocean racer to ocean racing itself:  “The whole challenge of the planning and logistics is exciting to me. That and the fine-tuning based on past experience, is what keeps me young !”

 Antiguan Emily Gaillard, 15,  of Potters Extension, aka Peanut, is racing the 600 onboard Antigua’s 65-foot  Spirit of Juno and is the fleet’s youngest sailor. 

An International Optimist dingy champion and straight A student at Saint Anthony’s Secondary School, Emily, who is taking time off from her studies, was given the helm of Spirit over the three days of the Nelson Cup last week, (a tuneup for the 600), and performed excellently helping Juno bring home two bullets in Tuesday’s racing.  Juno’s captain David Hanks commented that “Emily is a natural on the helm and fit straight in with the team”. 

Emily isn’t planning on doing any homework on the 600.  “Most likely I won’t be doing any homework underway for a few reasons.  My books will get wet and there is no internet.”  Emily loves to sail because “it lets me free my mind from everything going on and it gives me confidence.” 


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