The Royal Ocean Racing Club is preparing for the 15th iteration of the 2024 RORC Caribbean 600, which is organized in collaboration with the Antigua Yacht Club. Nearly 65 teams, comprising 500 sailors from 26 nations, are anticipated to participate, representing a diverse array of vessels. The event commences with inshore courses for the RORC Nelson’s Cup Series on February 13th, featuring an estimated 16 teams, including the Antigua 360 ‘Round Antigua’ race.
The main event, the 600-mile offshore race, begins on February 19th. The overall champion is determined based on the best corrected time according to the IRC Rating Rule. Notable accolades are conferred for Multihull and Monohull Line Honours, alongside the Class40 Division.
Multihull Line Honours
In the Multihull Line Honours category, three MOD70s are poised for a competitive showdown. Erik Maris, sailing Zoulou (FRA), aims to defend their victory from last year by a narrow margin of 21 seconds. Meanwhile, Jason Carroll’s Argo (USA) secured line honours in 2022, establishing the Multihull Race Record of 29 Hours 48 Mins 45 Secs. Noteworthy is Alexia Barrier’s MOD70 Limosa – The Famous Project (FRA), the first MOD70 with a predominantly female crew, featuring co-skipper Dee Caffari. Despite Zoulou and Argo possessing a speed advantage in favorable wind conditions with C-Foils and T-Rudders, Limosa’s original MOD70 configuration may prove advantageous on the intricate 2024 RORC Caribbean 600 course due to reduced drag.
Monohull Line Honours
In the Monohull Line Honours category, three high-performance Maxis vie for supremacy. Farr 100 Leopard 3 (MON), helmed by Chris Sherlock, previously set the Monohull Line Honours Race Record in 2009. Following extensive renovations, Leopard 3 has garnered victories in recent races, including the Rolex Middle Sea Race and RORC Transatlantic Race. Wally 107 Spirit of Malouen X (FRA) emerges as a formidable challenger to Leopard 3, crewed by the Paprec Sailing Team. The Class40 Division features ten entries, with notable contenders such as Stéphane Bodin’s 2023 Verdier Wasabiii and Sam Manuard Mach 5 designs LHOR One and Alternative Sailing – Construction du Belon.
In the MOCRA Multihull Class, reigning champion Adrian Keller’s Irens 84 Allegra (FRA) is favored to retain the title. Noteworthy participants include Guy Chester’s Crowther 46 catamaran Oceans Tribute (AUS) and Wooldridge & Davis’ Kelsall 47 trimaran Triple Jack (BVI). The Class also sees entries from Yann Marilley Outremer 59 No Limit (FRA) and Fabrice Cahierc’s Ocean Fifty Planet-R (FRA).
The Class40 class has been a fixture in the 2024 RORC Caribbean 600 since its inception. This year, the event anticipates the participation of 10 Class40 vessels, eight of which have been launched within the last five years. Among the latest designs is Stéphane Bodin’s 2023 Verdier Wasabiii. Additionally, the race will feature the newest Sam Manuard Mach 5 designs, including LHOR One owned by Cedric Chateau, which boasts a crew including Rolex Fastnet winner Alexis Loison and emerging French sailor Guillaume Pirouelle. Another contender is Alternative Sailing – Construction du Belon, led by English Skipper Mathieu Jones. Representing the USA, Martin Roesch’s Mach 3 Velocity, with an all-North American crew, clinched victory in the 2019 race under the helm of Catherine Pourre. Alexandre Le Gallais’ TrimControl features Carlo Vroon, son of Dutch legend Piet Vroon, among its crew. Lennart Burke, a 25-year-old German, stands as one of the youngest skippers in the class, set to compete with the 2022 Verdier Sign for Com (GER).
Initially poised for his debut race in the Jangada 40 (GBR), a 2017 Verdier design, RORC Vice Commodore Richard Palmer will be unable to participate due to an eye injury. Consequently, RORC Commodore Deb Fish will embark on her maiden RORC Caribbean 600 voyage. The Jangada 40 crew includes Rupert Holmes, victor of the 2022 Sevenstar Round Britain & Ireland, Vendée Globe sailor Pip Hare, and the boat’s former skipper Paul Brandel.
Overall Winner under IRC
The IRC Fleet for the 2024 RORC Caribbean 600 is extremely diverse. The overall winner after time correction will lift the RORC Caribbean 600 Trophy, but to win the prestigious silver trophy, any team must first win their IRC Class.
IRC Super Zero
As well as the 100ft-plus boats; Spirit of Malouen X/Paprec Sailing Team, Leopard 3, and Egiwave, IRC Super Zero has seven teams in total. Three entries are round the world racing yachts with pro-am crews. The Farr 70 Ocean Breeze (AUT), skippered by Johannes Schwarz was the first pro-am team in IRC to finish the 2024 RORC Transatlantic Race. Oliver Kobale and Gerwin Jansen, with a multinational pro-am crew will be racing the Farr designed VO65 Sisi (AUT). The Juan K designed Il Mostro (CAN) will be raced by the Atlas Ocean Racing Team from Montreal, Canada, led by Gilles Barbot. The smallest yacht in IRC Super Zero is the Marten 72 Aragon (NED) which includes round the world sailors Wouter Verbraak and Carolijn Brouwer amongst a top international crew. In the last 14 editions of the race, the overall winner has come from the IRC Super Zero Class.
In the IRC Zero class, while every participating boat stands a chance at securing the overall victory, two vessels are notably favored by race pundits. Niklas Zennström’s Carkeek-designed CF520 Rán (SWE), measuring 52 feet (15.84 meters), enters her second race, albeit facing technical challenges that hindered the team in the previous edition and in the Rolex Fastnet Race. Rán’s managerial helm is led by Tim Powell, boasting a stellar ensemble including navigator Steve Hayles, trim lead Toby Iles, and boat captain Tom Kiff. Notably, Team Rán clinched overall victory in the Maxi 72 Rán in 2012, showcasing their formidable pedigree.
Peter & David Askew’s Botin 52 Wizard (USA), under the stewardship of Ocean Race-winning skipper Charlie Enright, emerges as another formidable contender. The Askew Brothers previously piloted their Volvo 70 Wizard to overall victory in 2019. The new iteration of Wizard, formerly Matt Allen’s Ichi Ban, a RORC Yacht of the Year and thrice victor of the Rolex Sydney Hobart, boasts a crew predominantly hailing from the USA, inclusive of former race winners Briton Simon Fisher, Canadian Richard Clarke, and Australian Phil Harmer.
Additionally, IRC Zero witnesses the presence of three displacement boats, namely Jean-Pierre Dréau’s Mylius 60 Lady First 3, Mills 62 Leaps and Bounds 2, skippered by Luca Lanzillo, and Colin Buffin’s Swan 62 Uxorious IV (GBR), all eager for favorable upwind conditions.
The competitive lineup of IRC Zero includes Frederic Puzin’s Ker 46 Daguet 3 (FRA), marking the third outing for the esteemed French team, who secured third place in class last year and fifth overall. Jon Desmond’s Mills 41 Final Final (USA) from the NYYC also stands as a contender, signaling interest in the 2025 Admiral’s Cup. Furthermore, former RORC Commodore 2022-2023, James Neville, a seasoned participant in the RORC Caribbean 600, presents his Carkeek 45 Ino Noir (GBR), poised for its inaugural race appearance.
In the IRC One division, a riveting contest awaits among three adeptly helmed JPK 1180s: Richard Fromentin’s Cocody (FRA), Tom Kneen’s Rolex Fastnet-winning Sunrise III (GBR), and Dawn Treader (GBR), under the stewardship of Ed Bell. Cocody showcased its prowess in the RORC Transatlantic Race, securing second place overall and clinching a class victory by boldly navigating the challenging northern route. Dawn Treader comprises a youthful team that has honed their skills through multiple seasons of racing, including a team-building expedition in the RORC Transatlantic Race. This marks the second participation in the RORC Caribbean 600 for both Dawn Treader and Sunrise III. In the previous edition, Sunrise III narrowly edged out Dawn Treader by a mere 11 minutes after IRC time correction to claim victory in the class.
The largest vessel in IRC One is the reigning class champion, Tom Stark’s Nielsen 59 Hound (USA), co-skippered by Dan Litchfield. This classic vessel, aged 51 years, has undergone meticulous restoration for leisurely cruises along the Eastern Seaboard of the USA with the Stark family and friends. The RORC Caribbean 600 provides an opportunity for Hound to unleash its capabilities. Navigator Richard du Moulin brings extensive experience, having participated in four America’s Cup campaigns and numerous offshore races worldwide, including 26 Newport Bermuda and five Rolex Fastnet Races. Conversely, the smallest entry in the fleet is Nathalie Criou’s Figaro 2 Envolee, co-skippered by Berenice Charrez. Criou, a Swiss bioengineering scientist, endeavors to merge extreme sports, particularly offshore sailing, with scientific exploration.
In the IRC Two of the 2024 RORC Caribbean 600, the competition is an arduous marathon for the lowest IRC-rated boats, with the primary goal of finishing before the celebratory Grand Prize Giving event. Despite its lower rating, IRC Two consistently delivers a fiercely competitive race, particularly after IRC time correction, serving as a platform for novice sailors to glean invaluable offshore sailing experience from seasoned competitors.
Among the well-sailed entries in IRC Two is last year’s class champion, Peter McWhinnie’s JPK 1080 In Theory (USA), proudly representing the Larchmont Yacht Club and Storm Trysail Club. In Theory also secured victory in IRC Three in 2020. Additionally, Gavin Howe’s Sun Fast 3600 Tigris (GBR) emerged triumphant in the IRC Two-Handed category in the 2024 RORC Transatlantic Race, alongside co-skipper Maggie Adamson. For the RORC Caribbean 600, Tigris will be bolstered by the addition of Sam Cooper and Timothée Villain-Amirat to the crew.
A stalwart presence in the Caribbean sailing scene, Bernie Evan-Wong’s Lapworth 39 Huey Too (ANT) has participated in every edition of the RORC Caribbean 600. Notably, the crew includes the youngest sailor in the race, Carrack Jones, who shares a birth year with Bernie’s inaugural race. Carrack, aged fourteen, boasts an impressive resume, having competed in the last two Optimist Worlds and North Americans representing Antigua & Barbuda, and recently completed a 100nm journey from Antigua to St Martin aboard his Optimist.
Representing the Royal Cape Yacht Club, Charles MacDonald’s Samoa 47 Argonaut (RSA) boasts the largest IRC Two rating. This family-owned South African-built vessel has amassed extensive racing experience in and around Cape Town, including participation in five Cape2Rio races over the past three decades. Argonaut’s crew for the RORC Caribbean 600 comprises members of the Royal Channel Islands Yacht Club, Guernsey, UK. Conversely, the smallest vessel in IRC Two is Enrico Calvi’s Dufour 34 Duffy (ITA), crewed by the Lega Navale Italiana team from Naples, who boast nine Rolex Middle Sea Races and one Rolex Fastnet Race under their belt. Finally, Joel Aronson’s S&S 49 Rule One (USA), representing the Royal Hamilton Amateur Dinghy Club, Bermuda, stands as the largest boat in IRC Two.