It has been a busy 24 hours at the Antigua Yacht Club. At dawn on the fifth day of the RORC Caribbean 600, only three yachts were still at sea vying to complete the course before tonight’s Prizegiving celebrations and all of the class winners are now provisionally decided. The bar at the Antigua Yacht Club has been in full swing, buzzing with stories between the crews and songs in a myriad of different languages.
Team Selene skippered by Benjamin Davitt finished yesterday morning. The Swan 80 sailed an excellent race to claim third place overall and will lift the prestigious Swan Caribbean Challenge Trophy later this evening.
Without doubt, the closest racing for this year’s event was in IRC One. Colin Buffin’s Swan 62, Uxorious IV, was first to finish, but the team did not celebrate a class win. Buffin and his young team knew that Amanda Hartley’s Swan 56, Clem, was extremely close to eclipsing their corrected time. Just over three and half hours passed before Clem crossed the finish line to win the class by just 21 seconds on corrected time. There were ecstatic scenes dockside as the Spanish crew of Clem celebrated their class win. The entire crew of Uxorious IV including Colin Buffin sportingly applauded their rivals. Amanda Hartley spoke of their win.
“‘We had no idea until we crossed the line and turned on our phones which went crazy with people calling in from Spain. By our calculation we thought we had lost out by five minutes. We got stuck at Guadeloupe for four hours and we could only sit and watch Uxorious get away. We are obviously extremely delighted and really appreciate Colin and his team coming over to give us such a lovely welcome back to Antigua.”
Jaime Torres’ Puerto Rican First 40, Smile And Wave, finished shortly after midnight last night to claim third in IRC One.
Scarlet Logic, co-skippered by Ross Applebey and Tim Thubron, finished the RORC Caribbean 600 shortly after 2300 last night. The Oyster 48 has been vying for the overall win for the last two days. In the end Scarlet Logic missed out, but the team had put in an incredible effort and have been rewarded with a convincing win in IRC Two. Scarlet Logic has the best corrected time in IRC One, Two and Three and as a result will be awarded the fantastic prize of a week’s accommodation at the luxurious Inn at English Harbour.
“Fantastic, elated but bloody tired,” admitted Tim Thubron, co-skipper of Scarlet Logic. The weather lined up nicely for us and we were aware that we were in with a chance of beating the big, well funded professional teams and that really spurred us on and made us push even harder. A lot of credit must go to the whole team, especially Ross Applebey. Scarlet was immaculately prepared and we hardly had a single breakage, however we did need to drop the main to replace a sail slide. The job was done and the main back up in eight minutes, that to me says it all.”
There was joy and pain for both IRC Canting Keel and the Class40s. Ernesto Cortina’s Volvo 70 Gran Jotiti finished the race in just over two days. The Spanish team is racing the yacht formerly known as Telefonica Black in the last Volvo Ocean Race. Ernesto spoke about his team shortly after finishing. “This has been a great experience, even though our result was badly affected by a lot of sail damage. Many of the sails are tired from thousands of miles of racing. However, the crew have been a joy to sail with and this race is helping us build for the future. Gran Jotiti’s aim is to create a world class amateur Spanish offshore sailing team and we have learnt a lot through this race.
Ron O’Hanley’s Cookson 50, Privateer, showed exceptional pace and boat handling throughout. Unfortunately the American team failed to start correctly and accepted a 10% penalty from the race organisers resulting in Gran Jotiti being declared winner of IRC Canting Keel.
The Class40s turned into a battle royale between Christophe Coatnoan’s Partouche and Christof Petter’s Vaquita. The two Class40s were locked in a heroic tacking duel for the final push to the finish line, a 40-mile beat from Redonda to the finish in Antigua.
Vaquita crossed the line just after sunset beating Partouche by a slender margin, just 15 minutes in a race lasting over 3 days. However, Vaquita failed to start the race correctly and to the Austrian crew’s disappointment, the class win was awarded to Partouche: “It was a tough race and we had a couple of moments that really slowed us down,” commented Christophe Coatnoan who raced two-handed with Eric Calmard. “We picked up a fishing float after Nevis without realising and we probably lost 8 miles before we knew it was there. Later at Guadeloupe, I had to dive into the water to free Partouche from yet another fishing buoy. The race was an excellent test for our new design especially for our sails as I think we used every one of them during the race.”
Vaquita’s Andreas Hanakamp commented: “Obviously we are disappointed to have been penalised but we were delighted with our performance. Partouche is a brand new Finot design, whilst Vaquita is a 2006 Akilaria. The RORC Caribbean 600 is a testing race course and a very tough race, exactly what we needed to prepare for our main competition of the season, The Atlantic Cup later this year.”
The latest competitor to finish the RORC Caribbean 600 is Bernie Evan-Wong’s Mumm 36, High Tension. Falmouth Harbour exploded with noise as the smallest yacht in the race tied up right outside the Antigua Yacht Club. Thunderous blasts from megayachts, superyachts and foghorns literally shook the dock as the whole of the sailing community in Falmouth heralded the arrival of local hero Bernie and his crew.
“I said we would be here tonight but I always like to be early for appointments,” joked the Antiguan dentist. “It was a hard but satisfying race and the beat from Redonda to the finish seemed to take forever. We could see Antigua but it just didn’t seem to be getting any bigger, however a few miles out a massive rain squall hit and veered the wind favourably for us to speed our way to Antigua. After last year’s dismasting, I think maybe someone was looking out for us!”
Tonight the RORC Caribbean 600 Prizegiving Ceremony will take place at the Antigua Yacht Club. The two yachts still racing are Igor Zaretskiy’s, First 40.7 Coyote II and the RACYC Offshore Racing Team – White Knight’s Spirit of Venus. Both are expected to make tonight’s party, which should be a momentous occasion.
The 4th RORC Caribbean 600, starts at 1100 on Monday 20th February. There isn’t a single hotel room left near Antigua Yacht Club, as competitors fly in to the magical island of Antigua from all four corners of the world – Falmouth Harbour is filled to the brim with astounding yachts.
Niklas Zennström’s JV72, Rán, and George David’s RP90, Rambler, are the hot favourites for the RORC Caribbean Trophy, but the two highly impressive yachts are almost hidden in Falmouth Harbour. Rán were out practicing today and Navigator Steve Hayles reports that conditions were a bit lighter than usual, but he expects 15-20 knots of trade winds for the race with their weather routing predicting that they could finish the race in 48 hours, may be less.
RORC member, Stan Pearson has lived and sailed the sublime waters around Antigua for over 20 years. He was one of the creators of the RORC Caribbean 600 and will be racing this year on Adela, the 181′ twin masted schooner:
“I can’t remember ever seeing Nelson’s Dockyard and Falmouth Harbour with so many impressive yachts but I know why they are here; there is nowhere in the world quite like Antigua and the ’600 is a real celebration of all that the Caribbean has to offer. The sailing is just fantastic; constant trade winds, warm water and air temperature in the high 20′s provides brilliant sailing, but this is a tough race. The course has a lot of corners and there is a lot of activity for the crews. Looking at the fleet, there are going to be some great duels going on, it is going to be a very competitive race.”
For the first time, a Volvo Open 70 will be competing in the RORC Caribbean 600. Some might suggest that the canting keel carbon fibre flyer could have been designed for this course. Ernesto Cortina’s Gran Jotiti has a highly talented Spanish crew and could well be a contender for line honours and an overall win.
IRC Zero has 16 entries and may well be the class to watch for the overall winner. George David’s Rambler 100 is the trophy holder and George David’s all-star crew will not be giving it up without a fight.
With a combined water line length that would soar 500ft above the Eiffel Tower, there are some truly amazing yachts in IRC Zero. The 214′ ketch Hetairos is an impressive sight. The crew of 36 have been out practicing all this week and on board there are enough sails to cover a full size football pitch. Sojana is expected to have a Superyacht duel with 124′ Pernini Navi, P2, owned by businessman and philanthropist, Gerhard Andlinger. Sojana was on mark laying duty today. The only laid mark of the course is the North Sails mark, off Barbuda. No doubt the crew, will be using the exercise to practice the first 45 miles of racing.
In the Spirit of Tradition class Adela will line up against Windrose. This will be the first time these magnificent yachts have raced against each other offshore, however Adela did get the better of Windrose in The Superyacht Challenge inshore regatta. A close battle with these two powerful yachts fully off the leash is a mouth-watering prospect. Past RORC Commodore, Andrew McIrvine and a team of 11 RORC members including current Commodore, Mike Greville, have chartered the 145ft Windrose.
The multihull record for the RORC Caribbean 600 has not been beaten since the inaugural race in 2009. The 63′ Trimaran, Paradox, skippered by Olivier Vigoureux says the six crew on board are out to ‘beat the current record’. The American, French and British crew members have raced in the Figaro Race, Transat Jacques Vabres, America’s Cup and Mini Transat.
Anders Nordquist’s Swan 90, Nefertiti, has an international crew including Rolex Middle Sea Race winner, Christian Ripard from Malta. They should have a close battle with Wendy Schmidt’s Swan 80, Selene, and Irish entry, RP78, Whisper.
There are a huge variety of yachts racing in IRC One, including Hound, skippered by Hound from Maine USA. The 60′ classic will be competing in the Caribbean 600 for the first time with a family crew of avid racers. Hound has competed in the last 8 Newport-Bermuda races, winning her class twice.
Ondeck’s 40.7 Spirit of Venus is chartered to the Royal Armoured Corp Offshore Racing Team. The majority of the 11 strong crew are part of the Challenger 2 Main Battle Tank Regiment which returned from Afghanistan last spring.
Lt Col Paul Macro RTR: “Soldiers have to work together as a team, under time pressure, when cold, wet and tired, in difficult and even dangerous conditions. The adventurous team spirit required by a successful offshore racing crew is the same as that required by the crew of a tank or any other armoured vehicle.”
There are four Class40s competing. Close duels are expected right through the fleet, but a hard fought and close encounter is expected in this class. Trade wind sailing provides perfect conditions for Class40s, with long reaches and downwind legs, these pocket rockets are capable of surfing at speeds of up to 25 knots. Class40s from America, Austria, France and Great Britain are taking on the 600 mile Caribbean odyssey; Tim Fetch’s Icarus Racing, Christophe Coatnoan’s Partouche, Andreas Hanakamp’s Vaquita and Peter Harding’s 40 Degrees, co-skippered by Hannah Jenner. The Class40s will be level-racing under their own rules. First to finish will claim the Concise Trophy; a full barrel of English Harbour rum.
IRC Two includes the smallest yacht in the fleet, Bernie Evan-Wong’s Mumm 36, High Tension. Antiguan dentist, Bernie has competed in all four RORC Caribbean 600 races, however last year, High Tension did not finish the race.
“It is definitely a case of unfinished business,” said Bernie. “We have actually used our downfall to modify the rig, so we have made something good out of the incident. Like many Antiguans, I am amazed how this race has developed since 2009, I have been sailing in the Caribbean for over 50 years and what has been really missing is a well-run, exciting offshore race. The RORC Caribbean 600 has provided that and made my dreams come true.”
Tom Akin had a lot to say about sailing Flash, a TP 52, to Hawaii. His initial comments were, “I found out what is its like to be in a TP52 for seven days. You sit in water, you eat in water, and you sleep in water. It’s wet. The beast is not as luxurious as my Santa Cruz 52. I was looking for a creature comfort and couldn’t find one.”
Akin, his crew and Jeff Thorpe, Criminal Mischief’s navigator, worked non-stop over a very short period of time to get Flash into racing condition. From the time the boat arrived in Long Beach, two weeks before the start, until the evening before they took off, the deck was strewn with rigging materials, sealants and tools. The work that they did paid off. With more than half of the Transpac fleet safely docked in Honolulu, Flash sits second in class and second in fleet.
Flash held the lead on corrected time for much of the race while Samba was “zigzagging all over the place,” said Paul Cayard. “We were pleasantly surprised to be in the lead. During the last two days, they got it sorted out and put on the afterburners and put 40 miles a day on us.”
Allie Cayard, the youngest and the only female on board said, “There was never a dull moment. There was always something to be fixed.” Allie sailed with her brother and father, Paul. She also noted how calm it was dockside compared to out on the Pacific Ocean sailing the world’s most enduring and greatest ocean race
Crichton, who lived in Hawaii for a period of time and sailed his first and only Transpacific Yacht Race prior to this one 30 years ago. Crichton’s sailing program has changed considerably since 1979 when he raced in a 42-footer and finished eighth in a 22-boat fleet. Crichton and his fleet of Alfa Romeo sailboats have taken line honors in 171 races. Crichton’s wins include races considered the Holy Grail of offshore racing – the Fastnet and the Sydney Hobart. Crichton looking forward to the Sydney Hobart Race said, “There will be six 100-footers in the race. Five are certainly are capable of winning the race.”
Following the win when Team Manager, Murray Spence, was asked to elaborate on what it took to prepare the boat and team for the race, Crichton stole the microphone and responded, “Money.” Everybody laughed and no one could argue. Crichton said that he was very happy with the race. “We had no mechanical problems: not one.”
Crichton’s team included Stan Honey, Ben Ainslie, Michael Coxon, David Endean, Ryan Godfrey, Stan Honey, Andrew Hutchinson, Phil Jameson, Lance Jenkins, Gavin McPherson, Peter Merrington, Murray Spence, Craig Sattherwaite, Joao Signorini, David Rolfe, Tony Mutter and Alfa’s shore crew, Ian Goldsworthy.
Honey, who has a 50% batting average when it comes to winning the Transpac. He boosts his Transpac wins to 11 with Transpac 2009. Among the Transpac records that Honey set are the fastest corrected time of any singlehanded sailor in a monohull (set in 1994 on Illusion, a Cal 40 and superseded), the fastest Transpac passage in a monohull of any singlehanded sailor; and the fastest passage in a monohull (set in 1999 on Pyewacket, a Santa Cruz 70, in 1999, also superseded.) Honey has also been aboard fastest passage and fastest 24-hour runs in the Atlantic as a crew on ABNAmro One, a Juan K VOR 70 and Playstation, a Morrelli & Melvin catamaran. Those records have been superseded. Honey is on call with Franck Cammas and Groupama to go for a ’round the world record.
Honey’s comment on his Transpacific crossing aboard Alfa Romeo and the weather conditions that enabled the team to break the previously set 24-hour run record in the Transpac, established in 2005 by Morning Glory , was “We had steady winds. We never had a slow spot.” During Transpac 09, Alfa Romeo had a 399-mile day, a 423-mile day and a 393-mile day.
Transpac 09 was the first distance race in the open ocean that America’s Cup helmsman, Ben Ainslie, has sailed. Ainslie got the team off to a roaring start when he nailed the pin at the start of the race on July 5 off of Point Fermi, the southernmost point in Los Angeles.
After the team received their leis and were chauffeured in vintage Alfa Romeo cars from a dock at Aloha Tower, romantic island gateway for the steamships that delivered travelers to Hawaii in the early 20th century.Tom Garrett, Vice Commodore of the Transpacific Yacht Club welcomed the sailors by saying, “It’s one thing to beat a record, it’s another thing to obliterate it.”
Mark Hazlett, the Chair of the 600-member Honolulu Committee from three clubs gave Crichton and his crew a genuine Hawaiian Aloha welcome when he said,”Welcome back to Waikiki Yacht Club.” Crichton, who lived in Hawaii for a number of years was a member of the club. Garrett introduced Crichton and the crew to the newly deeded Merlin Trophy and invited Crichton to visit Newport Beach for a formal presentation of the Clock Trophy. The several hundred pound trophy permanently resides at the Newport Harbor Nautical Museum.
Following a press conference, the team and the well-wishers kicked off the first Hawaiian Aloha party of Transpac 09. Cades Schutte LLP and Jimmy Buffett’s Restaurant & Bar hosted the party at Waikiki Yacht Club.
Among the many trophies that Crichton’s Alfa Romeo team, also the top foreign entry in Transpac 09, will claim are: The Merlin Trophy for the fastest elapsed time for the Unlimited Class of yachts competing in the Transpac Race. The Unlimited Class yachts are RSS 51 and 52 waiver yachts (exempt from the Racing Rules of Sailing limitations on movable ballast and/or stored power) up to 100 feet with the shortest elapsed time. These boats are ineligible for the Barn Door Trophy. The trophy, built by Ken Gardiner, is a scale model of Merlin, the famed Bill Lee-designed 68-footer.
Crichton will have the honor of setting back the Clock Trophy, or the Transpacific Yacht Club New Course Record trophy. The Clock Trophy was donated by Roy E. Disney and is awarded to any monohull yacht that establishes a new elapsed time course record. Tradition calls for the winner of the trophy to reset the clock to show the new course record. Hasso Plattner’s Morning Glory established the current course record of 6:16:04:11in 2005. Unlimited Class yachts are eligible for the Merlin Trophy and the Clock Trophy, but are not eligible for the Barn Door Trophy.
The remaining 46 boats in the fleet are racing toward Hawaii and hoping to win elapsed time and corrected time honors within their divisions in addition to numerous other awards for completing and competing in the world’s most enduring and greatest ocean race.
Lynx, the heavy tall ship, has only chipped about 220 miles off of the vast 2,225-nautical mile journey.
Gib Black’s thirty-year old Santa Cruz 52, Roy’s Chasch Mer is leading Division V and is just a few miles out in front of Passion. Black and the crew discovered that their shaft strut had cracked wide open hours before our starting gun. They went through our limited parts and tool kits, found dive gear, parts and even machined some others to repair the problem. Says Black, “(We have) a bit more drag at the prop now, but we are moving AND we made our start. Nice start at that.”
Estimated arrivals for the boats are anywhere from 14 days to 30 days.
Tachyon III, Kanzunori Komatu’s Santa Cruz 52, with members of the Japanese Olympic Sailing Team on board, led the parade out of the basin. Like each of the 18 Transpac 09 race boats that followed, Tachyon III was escorted out of Rainbow Harbor’s entrance by paddlers from the Kahakai Canoe Club. Free Range Chicken, Bruce Anderson’s deluxe Perry 59, was the final Transpac race boat to leave the pier. As she streamed away from the dock, the crew showered their escorts with fresh fuschia-colored leis. Long Beach added more pageantry to the send-off by having Navy seals sky dive from a blimp and splash down in between the end of the pier and the Queen Mary.
The 19-boat fleet of 45 to 60-foorters rushed the starting line. They were amped up with anticipation and testosterone and shot out of the blocks on their way to Ala Wai and Transpac Row. The pin was the coveted spot and Criminal Mischief, the grey-hulled boat with a crimson-shirted team roared past the pin. Thinking that they were a bit too early, they bore away and returned to the line to exonerate themselves. Just up off of their starboard hip was Wasabi, one of the Mexican entries, and Bengal 7, one of three Japanese entries. Cipango, Relentless and Passion, all US boats, were just to weather of the pack at the pin. The rest of the fleet was spread out evenly across the starting line all the way up to the committee boat.
In Division 6, Relentless, the One-Design 35 being doublehanded by Tim Fuller and Erik Shampain, has a ten-mile lead over the crew on Narrow Escape.
After sailing through wind ranges of 8 to 15 knots immediately following Monday’s start and making a number of headsail changes, Divisions 6 and 7 Transpac crews went over the top of Catalina Island and settled into steadier conditions. Relentless leads and is 2,100 nautical miles from the finish line off Diamond Head and Lynx, the 114-ton tall ship, is finding difficult to get the momentum going. Lynx has 2,165 nautical miles left to go on the 2,225 nautical mile racecourse.
Alumni from the 2007 Transpac Morning Light crew are sprinkled throughout the 51-boat Transpac 09 fleet. Two of them, Kate Theisen and Graham Brant-Zawadski are up for another once-in-a-lifetime experience during this Transpac. They have joined the Lynx crew. America’s Privateer, Lynx, a 122-foot square topsail schooner, travels 7,000 nautical miles each year to ports along the West Coast and Hawaii, serving as a living history museum and classroom for the study of early maritime history and its role in establishing America’s freedom, as well as earth, life and physical science.
Charisma, one of nine foreign yachts in this year’s Transpacific Yacht Race, is off to an early lead in Division 7. Alejandro Perez Calzada and his crew of 11 are racing this 57-foot Sparkman & Stephens design. Aside from one German, the entire Charisma crew is Spanish. All crew members are sailing their first Transpac. Their goal is to have a good time and have a respectable finish within their division.
Between the Sheets, Ross Peralman’s, Jeanneau 50, which won the Aloha A division in the 2007 Transpac, is approximately 15 miles behind Charisma.
Nineteen boats comprising Divisions 3,4 and 5 start on Thursday, July 2nd at 1300 off of Point Fermin. Five Santa Cruz 50’s, including hull #1, Roy’s Chasch Mer, constitute Division 5. Half of the boats in Division 4 are Santa Cruz 52’s. Reinrag2, the overall winner on corrected time for the 2007 Transpac, is also in Division 4. Division 3’s entries include two Japanese and one Mexican boat and Bruce Anderson’s comfortable and fast, Free Range Chicken.
With 44 races starting in 1906, the Transpacific Yacht Race to Hawaii is well into its second century as the longest of the two oldest ocean races in the world. The first race was the year of the great San Francisco earthquake, which literally altered the course of the event.
The race was inspired by King Kalakaua, the revered Hawaiian leader of the late 19th century who believed that such an event would strengthen the islands’ economic and cultural ties to the mainland. But it didn’t happen until Clarence MacFarlane, a Honolulu racing sailor, invited several contemporaries in San Francisco and Los Angeles to race to the Hawaiian Islands. The race was scheduled to start in the early summer of 1906, but when MacFarlane sailed his 48-foot schooner into San Francisco Bay he realized there would have to be a change of plans. The city lay in ruins following the great earthquake 27 days earlier.
But MacFarlane wasn’t easily discouraged. He simply changed the starting point to Los Angeles, and except for one nostalgic return to San Francisco for the start in 1939, the race has started in Southern California ever since. The starting line is now off the bluffs of Point Fermin in San Pedro at the southern edge of the City of Los Angeles. The finish is off the Diamond Head lighthouse just east of Honolulu, establishing a distance of 2,225 nautical miles.
The 2009 race will be the 45th Transpac. It has been sailed by 1,700 boats from 17 countries, including 124 foreign competitors. The race is run biennially in odd-numbered years, alternating with the Newport-to-Bermuda race that also started in 1906.
Fastest elapsed time (monohull): 6 days 16 hours 4 minutes 11 seconds, Morning Glory (Reichel/Pugh maxZ86 maxi sled), Hasso Plattner, Kiel, Germany,2005.
Fastest elapsed time (multihull): 5 days 9 hours 18 minutes 26 seconds, Explorer (86-foot catamaran), Bruno Peyron, 1997.