The 10th edition of the Royal Ocean Racing Club 600 will start from Antigua on February 19, 2018. The entry list of 40 will see a medley of yachts from maxis and multihulls to racing and cruising yachts competing in what RORC Chief Executive, Eddie Warden Owen calls “one of the ‘must do’ races on the world offshore racing calendar.”
The 600nm non-stop course around 11 Caribbean Islands, leaves from Fort Charlotte, English Harbour, Antigua and heads north to St Martin and south to Guadeloupe taking in Barbuda, Nevis, St Kitts, Saba and St Barts.
“It was May 2008 that I received a phone call from John Burnie and Stan Pearson about creating the first offshore race in the Caribbean,” Mr Warden Owen commented. “We thought it would be popular – warm water, guaranteed trade winds, big surf and beautiful scenery, all in the middle of winter -what’s not to like? We never thought we would ever get 80 boats, and most of them from outside the Caribbean, and all because of local enthusiastic volunteers and supporters who make the race so special.
George David, took Line Honours on four occasions and Rambler 100 set the course record in 2011 (1 day 16 hours 20 minutes and 2 seconds). “Last year we had a full-on reach all the way from St. Barts to Guadeloupe,” Mr David, whose American Maxi Rambler 88 will be returning in 2018, said. “When you are at the helm and the boat is beautifully balanced and you are doing 20 knots with a poled out J1 and staysail for 150 miles, you can’t help but smile.”
Lucy Jones has competed in seven editions, and will be racing on Giles Redpath’s Lombard 46 Pata Negra, with a team from Howth Yacht Club, Ireland, led by Michael Wright.
“It’s my favourite offshore race by a million miles,” Ms Jones admitted. “The course is so varied and the wind is consistent so you don’t get stuck in a hole. The conditions are just idyllic and every time you get up from being off watch you are pointing in a different direction, with another beautiful island to look at.”
The winner of Best Swan overall in 2015 added, “As the competition has grown in numbers, it has got harder to win class, but this year we hope to achieve that goal.”
The “complex course with fast reaching legs”, which is organised by the ROCC in association with Antigua Yacht Club, has become popular with multihulls and eight teams are among the early entries. Three American Gunboats will be vying for Multihull Line Honours and the corrected time win: Arethusa, skippered by NYYC Commodore Phil Lotz, Stephen Cucchiaro’s Flow, and Elvis skippered by two-time Melges 32 World Champion, Jason Carroll; all competing in the RORC Caribbean 600 for the first time.
Established in 1925, RORC became known for the biennial Fastnet Race and the international team event, the Admiral’s Cup. It organises an annual series of domestic offshore races from its base in Cowes, as well as inshore regattas including the RORC Easter Challenge and the IRC European Championship (includes the Commodores’ Cup) in the Solent.
The club is based in St James’ Place, London, but after a merger with The Royal Corinthian Yacht Club in Cowes, now boasts a superb clubhouse facility at the entrance to Cowes Harbour and a membership of over 4000.