Monday, March 9, 2020

J/122 Triumphs in RORC Caribbean 600 Race

J/122 Liquid sailing RORC 600 Race
(English Harbour, Antigua)- The 12th edition of the RORC Caribbean 600 attracted 73 boats from 22 nations and competitors from 37 different countries. The fleet was made up of professional sailors and boats, as well as corinthian amateurs who love their offshore racing. The RORC Caribbean 600 is the only offshore race in the Caribbean. The race course starts and finishes in Antigua and is very different to any other as it weaves its way around 11 islands, going as far north as St. Maarten and as far south as Guadeloupe.

With the weather pattern bringing up unusual conditions and the lulls in the lee of the islands were significantly different from what we've seen in the past, the key to success was to keep the boat moving at all times. It was all about concentration and sailing the boat as fast as you can.

J/122 Liquid sailing in light airs
"This year's RORC Caribbean 600 served up some very different conditions and it showed in the way that people raced their boats - the persistence, the patience required and the speed to keep the boat going in these light conditions, and nowhere was that better shown than in the final boat that finished. The stunning scenery around the course is spectacular - the beauty of the Caribbean islands, the volcanos, the sunshine, the water. It's just fantastic. It's a race to get addicted to," said one sailor.

The spectacular race started in unusually light airs off Fort Charlotte, Antigua on Monday 24th February 2020. After a sublime start and a reach up to Barbuda in beautiful conditions, the majority of the fleet experienced the first trap of the course. Just before sunset on the first day, the wind shadow of Barbuda enveloped the armada. The halt in progress was short-lived and looking on the bright side, Barbuda is a stunning spot to pause to watch the sun go down. After rounding the Barbuda mark, the fleet were back in the breeze heading west on a starboard gybe. Choosing when to gybe south to round Nevis would have been the main strategic call. Tactically, with the boats super-compressed, night-fighting for wind and position would have taken on guerrilla tactic proportions.

J/121 sailing RORC 600 Race in Caribbean
By Tuesday late evening and early morning, the entire fleet was parked underneath St Kitts & Nevis waiting for the classic Caribbean tradewinds to rebuild. The "parking lot" on the lee side of the islands determined the fate of many teams. Hurt the most was Peter Lewis' J/121 WHISTLER. After the first two turning marks on the race track, WHISTLER was in close contact with all the class and fleet leaders as they all got caught underneath the big wind shadow of the very peaky islands (mountain tops close to 2,500 feet). On Tuesday morning, there were several "escapees" around 8am to 9am, including Pamala Baldwin's well-sailed J/122 LIQUID. Missing that one major zephyr was WHISTLER, not escaping the clutches of St Kitts & Nevis "vacuum" until 12:30pm... making for a 35.0nm "gap" from the rest of their class leaders. At that point, WHISTLER was "out-of-the-money", while Baldwin's LIQUID was dueling for boat-for-boat elapsed time honors as well as handicap honors in both IRC and CHS handicap divisions.

J/122 takes silver in RORC 600 Race
In the end, Pamala Baldwin’s Antiguan crew on the J/122 LIQUID (with talented young skipper Julian White) pulled off twin silver in two divisions.  LIQUID took 2nd place in IRC 2 Class and was 9th IRC Overall. Then, LIQUID took 2nd place in CSA 2 Class and 4th CSA Overall! Howie Hodgson's J/160 TRUE was also another class leader for a brief period of time before succumbing to the "black hole" beneath St Kitts & Nevis. Nevertheless, the big, fast, pretty cruising boat managed to find that elusive zephyr to salvage a 10th place in CSA 2 Class.   Follow the fleet on YB Tracking.  For more RORC Caribbean 600 sailing information