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ICAP Leopard Luxury Yacht Charter & Superyacht News

Rolex Fastnet Race 2015 Underway

August 17, 2015

Written by Zuzana Bednarova

This year’s 46th edition of the Rolex Fastnet Race is underway.  The record 356 yacht fleet started the famous 603-nautical mile offshore race to Plymouth via Ireland’s Fastnet rock yesterday, on Sunday, August 16, 2015. 

100ft superyacht Comanche under sail - Photo by Rolex Daniel Forster

100ft superyacht Comanche under sail – Photo by Rolex Daniel Forster

First to leave at midday, and opening proceedings at this year’s race, were the multihulls. They were followed by a series of sizeable starting groups, the largest including almost 90 yachts, and culminating with the fastest, as well as largest monohulls, last to leave at 13:40 BST.

It was an amazing spectacle, with the final start including the leading contenders for monohull line honours – Jim Clark’s 100ft superyacht Comanche (USA), fellow American George David’s sailing yacht Rambler 88 (USA) and Mike Slade’s 100ft charter yacht Leopard (GBR).

88ft sailing yacht Rambler 88 at full speed - Photo by Rolex Daniel Forster

88ft sailing yacht Rambler 88 at full speed – Photo by Rolex Daniel Forster

Rambler yacht appeared to have made a textbook start stealing a lead over her rivals. It was short lived as sailing yacht Comanche’s superior waterline length and sailpower was used to good effect to secure a solid advantage by the time line honour’s favourite exited the Solent just before 15:00 BST.

Sailing yacht BELLA MENTE – The overall winner of 2015 RORC Caribbean 600

February 27, 2015

Written by Zuzana Bednarova

The overall winner of this year’s RORC Caribbean 600 has become Hap Fauth’s American JV72 sailing yacht Bella Mente. Whilst several yachts are still competing, by the morning of Friday 27th February none of the remaining teams had the ability to better Bella Mente yacht’s corrected time under IRC. It was third time lucky for Bella Mente as the Maxi 72 has finished second overall for the past two years.

Overall winner of the 2015 RORC Caribbean 600, Hap Fauth's JV72, Bella Mente ©RORC/Tim Wright/Photoaction.com

Overall winner of the 2015 RORC Caribbean 600, Hap Fauth’s JV72 sailing yacht Bella Mente
©RORC/Tim Wright/Photoaction.com

Luxury yacht Bella Mente was also the winner of the highly competitive IRC Zero Class and retained the Bella Mente Trophy as the first IRC Yacht to finish that is wholly manually powered, without either variable or moveable ballast. A delighted Hap Fauth spoke about the achievement and was full of praise for both the race team and shore crew:

“Friday, before the race start, we had a structural problem with the boat and limped home from practice to assess the problem. We took the boat apart and for two days the shore team set up a temporary boat building workshop and did a great job just to get us to the start line. Throughout the race we had no problems at all and my hat goes off to our ground crew.

“This is the third go at winning this race and three is the beauty! This is the third Bella Mente since 2006 and the majority of this team have been with me for at least five years – it is an outstanding group of guys. They like each other, we have a good time together – they are all mates. Everybody puts safety first, that’s the way it should be offshore, but after that we push to the limit.

Team Bella Mente ©RORC/Ted Martin/Photofantasyantigua.com

Team Bella Mente ©RORC/Ted Martin/Photofantasyantigua.com

“This race is a series of sprints and every leg is different, you are trying to get out of the blocks at the start of each segment and as soon as you get going, you are looking to get to top speed without increasing the distance sailed in that quest for boat speed. We try to make a couple of minutes up at every corner – with 12 corners if you save three minutes a corner then that makes a real difference to your finish time. Everybody works together, it is our big strength; the crew did a phenomenal job.”

Bella Mente’s British navigator, Ian Moore, spoke about a crucial part of the course. Nicknamed the ‘Guadeloupe Casino’, the wind shadow of Guadeloupe can make or break a performance as the largest and tallest island on the course can be an unforgiving trap.

“We knew that the wind direction would flick to the south east just as we were arriving at Guadeloupe and,although we were looking at the current situation, we had pretty much made the decision to take our chances by going inshore. In the past, we have had some bad experiences going offshore, if you run out of wind you can get trapped for a very long time. I would give Bella Mente’s performance in the wind shadow a solid nine out of ten, we did really well but we had to fight for it and use all our skill to keep the boat going. Moose (Mike Sanderson) was driving, Terry (Hutchinson) and Ado (Adrian Stead) had their eyes out of the boat and I was just giving them the numbers and I believe that combined tactical sailing knowledge got us through.”

Hap Fauth had left nothing to chance in his quest to win the RORC Caribbean 600 and brought a team of world class sailors to run the afterguard which included Volvo Ocean race winning skipper, New Zealand’s Mike ‘Moose’ Sanderson, current Rolex US Sailor of the Year, American Terry Hutchinson and British America’s Cup tactician, Adrian Stead, who has been on the winning team for the RORC Caribbean 600 on three occasions. Mike Sanderson spoke about Bella Mente’s victory:

“It was a great race at the end of the day and we had Maserati to race with some of the time. To be boat-on-boat with a Volvo 70 was a nice surprise. We have worked on the boat very hard since we were here last year. Hap loves this race and it was very pleasing for us sitting on the dock feeling that we didn’t leave anything on the table. This was one of our best overall performances. We have two big races this year; the RORC Caribbean 600 and the Rolex Fastnet and we have produced a sail programme that covers the range well for those races. At one point we went through the lee of Leopard, reaching with a jib-top. Charter yacht Leopard is a fast 100 ft canting keel boat, so we are really excited at how well Bella is going with its new mast and new sails. We have done a lot of work on the aero-package and the boat feels great and she is going quick but we are really ringing its neck. To be honest the boat is pretty cranky and very physical. It is some of the most physical keel boat sailing that we do because you are muscling a windward leeward orientated boat around a reaching course, so it is tough on the wheel and there is a lot of grinding for the big boys.”

Bella Mente yacht has become the third Maxi 72 to win the race overall and the fifth American owner to win the RORC Caribbean 600 Trophy. The RORC Caribbean 600 Prizegiving will take place on Friday 27th February at the Antigua Yacht Club.

Sailing yacht Bella Mente Crew: Owner Hap Fauth, Thomas Allin, James Baxter, Michele Cannoni, Carlo Castellano, Sean Clarkson, Sean Couvreux, James Dagg, Federico Giovanelli, Peter Henderson, Terry Hutchinson, Keats Keeley, Brian Macinnes, Craig Monk, Ian Moore, Michael Sanderson, Matt Smith, Adrian Stead, Morgan Trubovich and Jim Turner

RORC Caribbean 600 Yacht Race: Day 4

February 27, 2015

Written by Zuzana Bednarova

By the morning of Day Four of the RORC Caribbean 600, 19 yachts had finished the race and 43 yachts were still competing. Yesterday night the lighter southerly wind had switched back to an easterly direction with substantial cloud activity providing changeable conditions for the yachts. The wind speed was steadily building and squall activity provided sudden exponential increases in the wind speed as well as a variable wind direction.

Majestic schooner, Adela ©RORC/Tim Wright/Photoaction.com

Majestic schooner Adela ©RORC/Tim Wright/Photoaction.com

 In the IRC Canting Keel Class, with all yachts accounted for, George David’s Juan K designed sailing yacht Rambler 88 has scored the best corrected time. Mike Slade’s Farr 100 charter yacht Leopard, sailed by Chris Bake’s Team Aqua, is in second place with Ron O’Hanley’s Cookson 50, Privateer in third.

In IRC Zero, three yachts are still racing but Hap Fauth’s JV72 sailing yacht  Bella Mente is the provisional winner of the class with Peter Harrison’s TP52, Sorcha second and True, Doug Baker’s Kernan 47, third. These three yachts also dominate the provisional overall ranking under IRC with Bella Mente currently leading the fleet, Sorcha second and True third respectively.

The story of the night was the battle on the water between Sorcha and Tonnerre 4. They finished the race late last night and both crews were utterly exhausted after an intense match race around the 600 mile course.

Sorcha’s skipper, Campbell Field, spoke dockside: “A tough race but thoroughly enjoyable. Racing around the Caribbean in a TP52 is like attaching a 500 HP outboard to a surf board. Everything and everybody gets a full soaking, even down below there is no respite from the drenching but this is a great crew with a fantastic spirit and we have all enjoyed the race immensely. The battle with Tonnerre was just the icing on the cake that is some of the best racing I can remember. I think, all in all, we won’t find many areas that we could have made a lot of time up, so we have to be satisfied with our performance. If the weather had been slightly more in our favour, who knows, we might have won the race overall.”

Tonnerre 4 stalwart, Frank Gerber was also full of praise for the crew: “This was the first time we had even sailed the new Ker 51 at night, so we have been on a steep learning curve for this race but what an amazing battle with Sorcha. The first 24 hours were just epic. With Paul Wilcox on the helm we hit 25 knots of boat speed on the way up to Barbuda, there was just water everywhere and the rush was thrilling. After Barbuda we were locked in a gybing battle with Sorcha for the downwind leg to Nevis. Two fast yachts surfing at each other at closing speeds of 40 knots, gybe after gybe after gybe, that is thrilling in anybody’s book. Sorcha have a great crew and sailed their boat just that little bit better than us and we applaud them for that but we have learnt so much about Tonnerre 4 and we will be able to up our game for our next race.”

The 182ft twin-mast schooner Adela, dating back to 1903, finished just before midnight winning the Superyacht and Spirit of Tradition Classes, placing sixth in IRC overall and fifth in IRC Zero, an incredible performance that skipper Greg Norwood-Perkins was rightly proud of:

“An IRC weapon!” laughed Greg, dockside. “Adela competes in numerous bucket-style short course racing and it is there that we hone our boat-handling and maximize our boat speed – this course demands impeccable manoeuvres from the crew. The owner is really thrilled with the performance of Adela and is full of encouragement, even though we put Adela through enormous stress loads. I am so proud of the crew, most of whom have been racing Adela now for many seasons. It takes every sinew of muscle and brain-power to sail her to the maximum, our sail configuration is complex and everyone has to be at the very top of their game. Tomorrow, we will celebrate our traditional lunch with a bottle of wine for every sail change. It is an unusual method of motivating the crew for every sail change we do and it will be a long and well deserved celebration of an excellent performance.”

In IRC One only one yacht has successfully completed the 600-mile race. William Coates’ Texan Ker 43, Otra Vez, has set the bench mark for the class, which will be difficult for the remaining 14 yachts in IRC One to beat. Jose Diego-Arozamena’s Farr 72 yacht Maximizer, should be the next yacht to complete the course followed by James Blakemore’s Swan 53, Music.

Seven yachts are still racing in IRC Two. On the water Ross Applebey’s Oyster 48, Scarlet Oyster, holds a slender 3-mile lead over Andy Middleton’s First 47.7, EH01. Lucy Reynolds’ Swan 51, Northern Child is 10 miles astern of the leader ,but after time correction is virtually tied for second place with EH01. This morning the three leading yachts were approaching Barbuda, preparing themselves for a big gybe in freshening breeze to head for Redonda and the last leg of the course, the gruelling 30 mile beat to finish. All three yachts are expected to finish the race this evening.

Seven yachts are still racing in IRC Three. The provisional class leader is Peter Schofield’s HOD 35, Zarafa, crewed by servicemen from the King’s Royal Hussars and the Queen’s Royal Lancers. However Zarafa is not leading on the water, the remarkable Two Handed French team racing JPK 10.10, Raging Bee is ahead by less than a mile after 465 miles of racing. Raging Bee skipper, Louis-Marie Dussere explained the unusual name of the yacht, the winner of the Two Handed Class for the 2014 RORC Season’s Points Championship: “The bee was a symbol used by Napoleon Bonaparte in his campaigns because a bee is both a team player and a ferocious fighter – so we like this imagination for our boat! I raced Raging Bee here two handed and the RORC always provide well managed events, so taking part in the RORC Caribbean 600 was an easy choice.”

IRC Three is producing probably the closest competition of any of 11 separate classes racing in the RORC Caribbean 600. After 70 hours on the race track, there is less than one hour separating the top four yachts after time correction. Zarafa leads by just 25 minutes from Raging Bee with Ed Fishwick’s Sunfast 3600, Redshift is third and Valerio Bardi’s Swan 46, Milanto, fourth.


66 yachts start 7th RORC Caribbean 600

February 24, 2015

Written by Zuzana Bednarova

An amazing number of 66 yachts started the 7th edition of the RORC Caribbean 600, with hundreds of race fans watching the breath-taking fleet from Fort Charlotte and Shirley Heights. Following a classic start in 15 knots of easterly trade winds, the fleet powered past the Pillars of Hercules, heading for Green Island, where they will bear away and accelerate towards the beautiful Barbuda yacht charter destination, the only mark of the 600-mile course around 11 fantastic Caribbean islands.

A spectacular start to the 2015 RORC Caribbean 600 in Antigua as IRC Zero and Canting Keel class, including George David's Rambler 88 and John Elkann's Volvo 70, Maserati cross the line ©Tim Wright/Photoaction.com

A spectacular start to the 2015 RORC Caribbean 600 in Antigua as IRC Zero and Canting Keel class, including George David’s Rambler 88 and John Elkann’s Volvo 70, Maserati cross the line ©Tim Wright/Photoaction.com

Lloyd Thornburg’s MOD 70 Phaedo3, with Michel Desjoyeaux and Brian Thompson on board, had a conservative start with Petro Jonker’s cruising catamaran, Quality Time crossing the line first. Phaedo3 lit the blue touch paper at Green Island, blasting through the surf at well over 30 knots. The lime-green machine reached Barbuda in less than two hours, well ahead of record pace and eight miles ahead of Peter Aschenbrenner’s Irens 63, Paradox.

In the second start, 19 yachts in IRC Two and Three started the 600-mile race. For most of the crews racing in the smaller yachts it will be three or four days before they complete the challenge. Ed Fishwick’s Sunfast 3600, Redshift, skippered by Nick Cherry, got a great start at the pin-end with Ross Applebey’s Oyster 48, Scarlet Oyster, judging the inner distance mark to perfection. Andy Middleton’s First 47.7, EH01 and Scarlet Oyster were the first yachts in IRC Two to reach Green Island and it is likely that these two will be neck-and-neck for the duration of the race. In IRC Three, Peter Scholfield’s HOD 35, Zarafa was leading on the water at Green Island. However the Two Handed team racing Louis-Marie Dussere’s JPK 10.10, Raging Bee was the leader in class after time correction.

George David's Rambler 88 ©Tim Wright/Photoaction.com

George David’s superyacht Rambler 88 ©Tim Wright/Photoaction.com

Jonathan Bamberger’s Canadian J/145, Spitfire and Joseph Robillard’s S&S 68, Black Watch got the best start in the 15 strong fleet racing in IRC One. However, Jose Diego-Arozamena’s Farr 72 sailing yacht Maximizer, revelled in the upwind start to lead on the water at Green Island. Oyster 625, Lady Mariposa, sailed by Daniel Hardy had a great leg to Green Island as did James Blakemore’s Swan 53, Music which was leading after time correction.

The penultimate start featured 21 yachts racing in IRC Zero and Canting Keel, arguably the best fleet of offshore sailing yachts that has ever been seen in the Caribbean. A highly competitive start saw Piet Vroon’s Ker 51, Tonnerre 4, win the pin, while Ron O’Hanley’s Cookson 50, Privateer took the island shore route to perfection. Farr 100 charter yacht Leopard sailed by Christopher Bake, also had a great start, controlling the boats to leeward heading for the Pillars of Hercules.

Hap Fauth’s Maxi 72 luxury yacht Bella Mente had a sensational first leg of the race, rounding Green Island first out of the IRC Zero class, but all eyes were on George David’s sailing yacht Rambler 88, as the powerful sled turned on the after burners. George David’s new speed-machine could well break his own monohull course record; at Barbuda Rambler 88 was almost five miles ahead of the ghost track of the record set by superyacht Rambler 100.

Bella Mente, Hap Fauth's ©Tim Wright/Photoaction.com

Hap Fauth’s sailing yacht Bella Mente ©Tim Wright/Photoaction.com

Two of the world’s most magnificent schooners were the last class to start. Charter yacht Athos and super yacht Adela started their match race in the pre-start and there is no doubt that the battle of the titans will continue throughout the race. Athos won the pre-start in some style, chasing Adela downwind and away from the line, before rounding up onto the breeze and crossing the line over a boat length ahead of her rival. However, Adela was far better suited to the beat up to Green Island and led as the two schooners continued their rivalry towards Barbuda.

Note: Liquid, Pamala C Baldwin’s J/122 and Quality Time, Petro Jonker’s Du Toit 51 catamaran retired at the start following boat damage. All of the crew are well.


RORC Caribbean 600 to host sensational fleet of yachts

February 17, 2015

Written by Zuzana Bednarova

An impressive fleet of yachts from all over the world have gathered for an amazing Caribbean rendezvous – RORC Caribbean 600. Fort Charlotte, nestled in the fantastic Antigua yacht charter location, will be the starting and finishing point for a popular 600-mile yacht race around 11 Caribbean islands, set to start on February 23, 2015.

Overall runner-up in two editions of the RORC Caribbean 600. Hap Fauth's Maxi 72, Bella Mente (USA)  aim to make it third time lucky  © Tim Wright/Photoaction.com

Overall runner-up in two editions of the RORC Caribbean 600. Hap Fauth's Maxi 72 yacht Bella Mente (USA) aim to make it third time lucky © Tim Wright/Photoaction.com

Since 2009, the RORC Caribbean 600 has been growing in popularity and the seventh edition boasts an astounding fleet of yachts: record breaking high performance racers, magnificent schooners, elegant classics and fast production yachts. World class sailors will be taking part, rubbing shoulders with royalty, captains of industry and passionate Corinthian amateurs.

The course meanders through the stunning central Caribbean affording amazing scenery, but the RORC Caribbean 600 is not just a joyride. Competitors can expect little sleep as the myriad of corners create many manoeuvres. The racing is electric but the high speed action in tropical heat can be exhausting. At the finish, the welcome party for the crews has become legendary. Every boat is cheered in, regardless of the hour, for a cold beer and a warm welcome.

The monohull course record for the RORC Caribbean 600 (40 hours 20 mins 02 secs) was set by George David’s superyacht Rambler 100 in 2011. The quality and depth of the fleet in this year’s race means that the quest for line honours will be the most dramatic in years.

The overall winner is decided by the RORC IRC rating system and the calibre of the fleet is such that this year’s winner is almost impossible to predict. Teamwork, tactics, and a share of good luck will decide the winner. Over the past six editions, only one 100-footer has won the race overall: Rambler 100. High performance yachts ranging from 50-72 feet have won the RORC Caribbean 600 Trophy on four occasions.

This year three projects, new to the race, will fit into that category: Bryon Ehrhart from Chicago, Illinois, will be racing Reichel Pugh 63, Lucky. Piet Vroon’s newly acquired Ker 51, Tonnerre 4, from Breskens, Netherlands and British TP52 Sorcha, sailed by Peter Harrison, make up a trio of yachts that will be amongst the favourites for overall victory under the IRC rating rule.

The seventh edition of the RORC Caribbean 600 has entries from over 14 different nations and crew from many more. Throughout the fleet there is a myriad of class champions from famous yacht races around the world.

Sailing yacht Adela and charter yacht Athos, the mighty schooners battle it out in the last RORC Caribbean 600 © Tim Wright Photoaction.com

Sailing yacht Adela and charter yacht Athos, the mighty schooners battle it out in the last RORC Caribbean 600 © Tim Wright/Photoaction.com


George David’s brand new hi-tech 88ft superyacht Rambler 88 is now in Antigua, hoping to lower the bar for the course record for the RORC Caribbean 600. Previous Ramblers still hold course records for: RORC Caribbean 600, The Transatlantic Race, Newport to Bermuda Race and Rolex Middle Sea Race. Amongst Rambler’s international crew are numerous world champions including three well-known sailors from New Zealand: Multiple America’s Cup winner, Brad Butterworth and Volvo Ocean Race winners, Stu Bannatyne and Brad Jackson.

Yachts from the USA have won the RORC Caribbean 600 overall on three occasions, more than any other nation. From Boston, Massachusetts, Ron O’Hanley’s Cookson 50, Privateer, was the overall winner under IRC in 2013 and the American team is back for their fifth race, having won IRC Canting Keel last year. From Minneapolis, Minnesota, Hap Fauth will be racing his world championship winning Maxi 72 sailing yacht Bella Mente, the overall runner up for the race on two occasions. This year Bella Mente’s crew includes Mike Sanderson, Terry Hutchinson, Ian Moore and Adrian Stead. Bella Mente will be hoping it will be third time lucky in their quest for first place.

Two American flyers will be making their RORC Caribbean 600 debuts: Doug Baker from Orange County, California will be racing Kernan 47, True, and from Houston, Texas William Coates’ Ker 43, Otra Vez will have Volvo Ocean Race sailors George Peet and Luke Molloy on board. Stefan Jentzsch’s German Carkeek 47, Black Pearl, also makes its debut, with South African America’s Cup navigator, Marc Lagesse, amongst the crew.

Three American classic yachts will be on the start line on February 23rd: James Grundy of Oxford, Maryland will be racing the 84 year-old Alden schooner, Summerwind. The 1938 S&S Yawl Black Watch will sailed by Joseph Robillard of Short Hills, New Jersey and Frank Eberhart from Vinalhaven, Maine will be racing for the third time with the 1970 classic, Hound.


Volvo 70 Maserati is skippered by the legendary Italian sailor from Milan, Giovanni Soldini. Maserati is designed to break records and holds the Cadiz-San Salvador, New York-San Francisco and the Cape Town-Rio de Janeiro race[BB2]  records. On board for the RORC Caribbean 600 will be Pierre Casiraghi, eldest son of Princess Caroline of Monaco, fourth-in-line to the Monegasque throne and a passionate sailor. Maserati’s owner John Elkann will also be racing. The Grandson and heir of Giovanni Agnelli, John Elkann is the President of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles which owns the Maserati brand, as well as Ferrari, Alfa Romeo and many others.


Yachts from Great Britain make up the largest number of yachts by country for the seventh edition of the RORC Caribbean 600.

London based property developer Mike Slade’s Canting Keel Maxi, charter yacht Leopard, set the course record in the inaugural race and holds numerous speed and race records, including two current Transatlantic races. This year, Leopard has been chartered by UK-based businessman Chris Bake, winner of five RC44 Tour Championships. The core Leopard crew, including Australian skipper Chris Sherlock, will form a formidable partnership with Bake’s Team Aqua. The all-star crew includes America’s Cup winner Cameron Appleton from New Zealand and Volvo Ocean Race winner Jules Salter from Gurnard, Isle of Wight.

RORC Admiral and London surgeon, Andrew McIrvine will be taking part in his sixth race and skippers Southern Wind 94 superyacht Windfall. The vast majority of Windfall crew will be RORC members, including Dublin based RORC Commodore, Michael Boyd as navigator. Two RORC Rear Commodores will also be on board: Justin Slawson from Wimborne, Dorset and Adrian Lower from Burnham-on-Crouch, Essex. Windfall should have a fascinating battle with PY100 charter yacht Liara, owned by Tony Todd from St. Peter Port, Guernsey and sailed by John Walker from Romsey, Hampshire. Liara’s crew include a number of Hampshire’s most experienced yachtsmen including Peter Morton and Kelvin Rawlings from Cowes, Isle of Wight and navigator, Nat Ives from Hamble-le-Rice, Hampshire.

British Volvo 70 Monster Project will be skippered by Andy Budgen from Greenock, Scotland. Monster Project took Line Honours for the Canting Keel Class last year and is a real flyer in Caribbean conditions. Monster Project is one of 10 specialist race charter yachts competing. Well over 100 passionate amateur sailors will be taking up the challenge against the professionals, racing on performance charter yachts.

Last year First 40 Lancelot II, skippered by Chris Jackson from Fareham, Hampshire, was the winner of IRC Two which contains the bounty of race charter yachts. Ross Applebey from Wallingford, Oxfordshire will skipper Oyster 48 Scarlet Oyster, which has won class in the RORC Caribbean 600 on two occasions. Racing for the sixth time, Andy Middleton from Cowes, Isle of Wight will skipper First 47.7 EH01.


Antigua is the Caribbean home of two of the world’s most famous schooners. Charter yacht Athos and luxury yacht Adela will continue their gentlemen’s duel in the Spirit of Tradition class. The Dykstra-designed Adela is the smaller of the two magnificent yachts at 182ft and over 200 tons. The sails and systems on board Adela are advanced, but manoeuvres such as handling her giant red 1000m2 masthead spinnaker can require up to 30 crew. Athos is the largest yacht competing this year’s RORC Caribbean 600. The 203ft Hoek design weighs 370 tons, her rig is over 200ft high and she can hoist over 3000m2 of sail. Adela has won the Spirit of Tradition and Superyacht Classes for the last three years, but Athos provided exhilarating competition last year, finishing less than 39 minutes behind after two and a half days at sea.

By sharp contrast with the two largest yachts racing, local dentist Bernie Evan-Wong will be racing one of the smallest, his new Reichel Pugh 37 Taz. Bernie has competed in every RORC Caribbean 600 race since it started in 2009. “The RORC Caribbean 600 race captured my imagination the first time I heard about it,” exclaimed Bernie Evan-Wong. “The thought of full-on racing, night and day in tropical waters for 600 miles was a challenge and an adventure I just could not resist! If you love sailing and are a serious sailor, you have to put the RORC Caribbean 600 on your itinerary.”

This year’s RORC Caribbean 600 to kick off on February 23

January 20, 2015

Written by Zuzana Bednarova

To be hosted by the breath-taking Antigua yacht charter destination, this year’s 7th edition of the RORC Caribbean 600 is looking like a real cracker and attracting a variety of yacht racing teams from all over the world. An international fleet of over 50 yachts has now registered for the popular Caribbean regatta, indicating that last year’s record entry of 60 yachts may be bettered. Yachts flying the flags of 13 different nations will be participating in this year’s race: Antigua, Australia, Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, Great Britain, Italy, Lithuania, The Netherlands, Russia, Spain, as well as the United States of America.

George David's brand new 88ft Rambler will make its Caribbean 600 debut  - Photo by John Payne johnpaynephoto.com

George David's brand new 88ft superyacht Rambler will make her RORC Caribbean 600 debut - Photo by John Payne/johnpaynephoto.com

The Caribbean is, without doubt, one of yacht racing’s most exhilarating playgrounds with the warm trade winds and Caribbean swell providing superb sailing conditions. The RORC Caribbean 600 course, starting and finishing in Antigua, is designed to provide a challenging, high speed racetrack and its popularity has grown, year on year, since the first event in 2009.

Five battle for Line Honours

George David’s Rambler 100 yacht set the monohull course record in 2011, scorching around the track in 40 hours, 20 minutes and 2 seconds but this year’s line-up is likely to be the most competitive for line honours so far. George David’s brand new 88 ft sailing yacht Rambler will make its 600 debut with an all-star crew containing many of Rambler’s old guard plus some new, world class, sailors including multiple America’s Cup winner, Brad Butterworth and Volvo Ocean Race winners, Stu Bannatyne and Brad Jackson. Also in contention for line honours is Australian yachting legend Syd Fischer racing superyacht Ragamuffin 100, which is being shipped to Antigua from Australia, and Mike Slade’s British 100ft Maxi charter yacht Leopard, which took monohull line honours in the first edition of the race, makes a welcome return, and two Volvo 70s will also be vying to be the first yacht to complete the course, Giovani Soldini’s Italian Maserati and Andrew Budgen and Fred Schwyn’s British Monster Project.

Rambler yacht’s Project Manager, Mick Harvey, was full of excitement about the race: “George David has always been a strong supporter of this race because it is such a fantastic course with great conditions, but also because George David, like me and other crew, are members of the RORC and we just love to take part in this race. This will also be the first race of the Atlantic Ocean Racing Series, which is our priority for our first season. The boat is going well. As always there are a few adjustments, but all things considered, we are very happy with the new Rambler and looking forward to Antigua. This year there is a lot of good competition for us but we will concentrate on our own game, as that is all we can influence until the race start.”

Hot Prospects for the RORC Caribbean 600 IRC Overall

Ron O’Hanley’s Cookson 50, Privateer, was the overall winner under IRC in 2013 and the American team is back for their fifth race. Hap Fauth’s American JV72 sailing yacht Bella Mente, has won her class before but will be setting their sights on the overall victory that has eluded the American Maxi 72, which has been second overall for the last two editions. American Reichel Pugh 63 Lucky, sailed by Bryon Ehrhart, will be making its debut in the RORC Caribbean 600, as will British TP52, Sorcha, sailed by Campbell Field. The all carbon German flyer Carkeek 47, Black Pearl, sailed by Stefan Jentzsch, will also be making its RORC Caribbean 600 debut.

Dutch grandmaster Piet Vroon is no stranger to the RORC Caribbean 600, having won IRC One on two previous occasions but the 2015 RORC Caribbean 600 will be the first offshore race for Piet on board Ker 51, Tonnerre 4.

“It is very exciting to be racing Tonnerre 4 for the first time and against different adversaries and it will probably be harder for us,” commented Piet Vroon. “Tonnerre 4 will be much the same crew as we have had in recent years and I am looking forward to racing with them. I like offshore sailing and the RORC Caribbean 600 is a prime example. The route is very varied and no part of it is straight forward, with plenty of local weather effects which must also be considered during the race and the route is an interesting one, as we race around 11 islands. From a tactical and navigational point of view, this is very demanding. If you could import the same weather conditions for this year’s Fastnet that would be great!”

Racing Schooners – Adela and Athos

Superyacht Adela and mega yacht Athos are spectacular and graceful from the days of old but are designed with innovative features and technology that exponentially enhances their speed and power to an incredible level.

The 203ft Schooner Athos and the 182ft Schooner Adela will be taking part in their third encounter in the RORC Caribbean 600. Adela has won the Spirit of Tradition and Superyacht Classes for the last three years, but Athos provided exhilarating competition last year, finishing less than 39 minutes behind, after two and a half days at sea. Adela’s helmsman Stan Pearson, who was the co-founder of the RORC Caribbean 600, believes this year’s battle between Adela and Athos will be even closer.

“In the last two races, Adela has sailed the best she could and didn’t leave much on the track and this year I think it will be a right old ding dong,” commented Stan. “Adela is now as good as she can be and the crew work on board is fantastic, so there is not much Adela can do to improve. Athos improved enormously last year and I expect her to be even better this year. Athos is longer than Adela and assuming a regular easterly, the course has 65% on eased sheets, which should be to Athos’ advantage, the course is absolutely suited for big boats such as ketches and schooners.”

Corinthian Battles

Of the 10 yachts currently competing in IRC One, the cosmopolitan entry list come from six different countries. On paper, two highly diverse American yachts should be the fastest around the course: New York’s Jose Diego-Arozamena has been the proud owner of Farr 73 sailing yacht Maximizer, for over 20 years, racing in the Mediterranean, the East Coast of the USA and the Caribbean. Maximizer should be well matched with William Coates’ Ker 43, Otra Vez, from Houston Texas, which has a proven track record, winning several prominent Caribbean inshore regattas.

In IRC Two Global Yacht Racing’s First 47.7, EH01, will be taking part in the race for the sixth time. EH01 Skipper, Andy Middleton believes that the class favourite will be his good friend Ross Applebey, skipper of Oyster 48 Scarlet Oyster, which has won the class on two previous occasions.

“I sailed with Ross on Scarlet Oyster for the Rolex Middle Sea Race and we ended up without a rudder, lashed to a fishing boat in a full blown gale. In situations like that, you really find out who your friends are!” laughed Andy. “There are a number of race charter yachts in our class for the RORC Caribbean 600 and that really does make for a great competition between us. The course is a fantastic way to race around the central Caribbean, which is one of the most spectacular places to sail, anywhere in the world.”

Under 40ft

Seven yachts of less than 40ft have already entered the race, proving that the RORC Caribbean 600 is not just for the Maxis. Local Antiguan, Bernie Evan-Wong, who has participated in every edition of the race, is back with a new boat, RP 37 Taz and a number of smaller yachts have sailed across the Atlantic to compete in the RORC Caribbean 600, including Louis-Marie Dussere’s French JPK 10.10, Raging Bee, which won IRC Three and the Two-Handed Class for the 2014 RORC Season’s Points Championship. Veteran RORC members Peter Hopps racing Sigma 38, Sam, and Peter Schofield racing HOD 35, Zarafa, will also be competing.

British Figaro sailor Nick Cherry will be sailing on Ed Fishwick’s Sunfast 3600, Redshift: “This will be my third race but the first with Redshift and we will be a crew of six,” said Nick Cherry. “It will be a tough race for us. The bigger, faster boats will get up on the plane and we will be displacing all the way around the course. However in IRC Three, we should have a chance and with so many corners, we hope to make gains because Redshift is easy to handle. Looking at all the 600 mile races, this is the course I would choose to do: plenty of fast sailing, loads of corners and lots of rocks to watch out for, so there is always something going on. I think we will have a flexible watch system as there will be plenty of sail changes and manoeuvres to nail. Compared to training in Brittany for the Figaro, with 10 degree water over your head, this race should be far more pleasant and this is the first part of our training for the Rolex Fastnet, which we will be doing Two-Handed. For the 600 we want to get round quickly, so we have plenty of time to enjoy the party afterwards.”

Superyacht Challenge Antigua 2015, January 29 – February 1

January 20, 2015

Written by Zuzana Bednarova

The Notice of Race and Entry Form for the 2015 Superyacht Challenge Antigua, to be hosted by the fabulous Antigua yacht charter destination, nestled in the Caribbean, is now available online. To be hosted by the Admiral’s Inn and Antigua Rigging, in association with National Parks Antigua, the fifth edition of the regatta is proving very popular with expressions of interest from 15 superyachts, the maximum for the event. These include such outstanding vessels as the last year’s winner sailing yacht Marama, charter yacht Leopard 3, as well as charter yacht Sojana, to name but a few.

100´ sailing yacht Marama

100´ sailing yacht Marama - the overall winner of the Superyacht Challenge Antigua 2014

Designed to be solely for the pleasure of superyacht owners, their guests and crew. The magnificent fleet take part in three days of spectacular racing, using the International Superyacht Racing Rule. With daily pursuit races along the stunning south coast of Antigua and laid back social events, The Superyacht Challenge Antigua is a wonderful celebration of sailing and parties.

The racing is very competitive but the Superyacht Challenge Antigua is dedicated to pure fun afloat and ashore, where all participants enjoy a relaxed party atmosphere, free from commercial endorsements.

The Superyacht Challenge Antigua has one clear objective; to provide all the facilities to stage an ideal event for an exclusive selection of yachts, where fair racing and good companionship are valued above all else.

The regatta will continue with a limited entry of 12-15 yachts depending on the type of vessels. This decision was made to ensure that the magnificent amenities available at Nelson’s Dockyard would comfortably host the event. Furthermore the event will have no title sponsorship, to ensure that the Superyacht Challenge Antigua will be held for the pure enjoyment of the participants without any conflict of interest with a third party.

Last year’s regatta was extremely well received by all who took part. Four races are scheduled over a 3-day weekend with social evenings ashore hosted by the Admiral’s Inn, English Harbour.

Atlantic Record broken by 100ft Maxi superyacht LEOPARD 3

December 19, 2014

Written by Zuzana Bednarova

Mike Slade’s canting keel 100ft Maxi charter yacht Leopard 3 took Line Honours for the 2014 ARC Race (IRC Racing Division), crossing the finish line off Rodney Bay, a beautiful St.Lucia yacht charter destination, nestled in the Caribbean, on 3 December at 01:09:51 UTC. Superyacht Leopard by Finland, co-skippered by Chris Sherlock and Samuli Leisti, set a new record for the race.

100ft Maxi charter yacht Leopard 3 breaks Atlantic Record

100ft Maxi charter yacht Leopard 3 breaks Atlantic Record

In an elapsed time of 8d 14h 39m 51s, this sets a new record for the 2700 nautical mile course, which has been run for over 30 years. The previous record was set last year by Max Klink’s Knierim 65, Caro. Leopard’s time beat the previous record by 2d 6h 45m 19s.

For the race, luxury yacht Leopard by Finland was chartered to Samuli Leisti ‘This project started 18 months ago when I decided to charter Leopard and put a team together to work with Leopard’s team 50/50. There has not been any bigger project from Finland since 1989/1990 Whitbread Race, hopefully this will be a big push for Finnish big boat racing. I think all sailors dream of doing a record transatlantic run and this has been the best way to do it. Hopefully we can announce future projects soon.’

Super yacht Leopard by Finland had excellent sailing conditions with a consistent breeze throughout and Captain Chris Sherlock commented: “This was a very good race for Leopard we had good downwind sailing conditions the whole way, albeit getting lighter towards the finish in St Lucia. Leopard’s top speed for the trip was 32.6 knots and the boat consistently averaged in excess of 20 knots. A proper blast across the Atlantic – it is what the boat was built for and a real thrill.”

Leopard currently holds four Transatlantic records beginning with the WRSSC powered sailing systems record from Ambrose light to the lizard in the UK (7 days, 19 hours and 21 minutes), the South Atlantic race record from Cape town to Brazil (10 days, 5 hours, 46 minutes and 35 seconds), the IMA maxi association race from Tenerife to Virgin Gorda (7 days, 8 hours, 59 minutes, 12 seconds), and now the ARC race record from Gran Canaria to St Lucia.

“Four different courses, four different records! It is a fantastic achievement for Leopard” commented owner Mike Slade. “A fantastic result particularly in her new racer cruiser mode and all credit to our charterers from Finland. We now head to Antigua for the RORC Caribbean 600 before returning and looking forward to a full on season back in the Solent throughout the summer.”

100-foot limit lifted for 2015 Rolex Fastnet and Rolex Middle Sea Races

October 16, 2014

Written by Zuzana Bednarova

The Royal Ocean Racing Club (RORC) and the Royal Malta Yacht Club have lifted the 100-foot (30,47m) LOA monohull limit for the 2015 editions of the Rolex Fastnet Race as well as the Rolex Middle Sea Race, set by a number of the classic 600 mile races, such as the Fastnet, Sydney Hobart and Middle Sea races. This will allow superyachts attending the Atlantic Ocean Racing Series to compete.

Start of the 2013 Rolex Fastnet Race from Cowes, Isle of Wight - Credit Rolex Kurt Arrigo

Start of the 2013 Rolex Fastnet Race from Cowes, Isle of Wight - Credit: Rolex Kurt/Arrigo

The AORS consists of four events: the RORC Caribbean 600, the 2015 Transatlantic Race from Newport to the Lizard, the Rolex Fastnet Race and Rolex Middle Sea Race. Superyachts have always been eligible to race in the RORC Caribbean 600 and a number have entered for the west to east Transatlantic Race at the end of June/July 2015, organised by the Royal Yacht Squadron and New York Yacht Club in association with the Royal Ocean Racing Club and Storm Trysail Club.

In previous editions of the Rolex Fastnet Race only monohulls of 100ft or less were eligible to win the coveted Fastnet Challenge Cup. In 2013 there were two monohulls at this upper limit of 100ft: Mike Slade’s Farr 100 charter yacht ICAP Leopard (GBR), and Igor Simcic’s RP100 superyacht Esimit Europa 2 (SLO).

With a number of superyachts competing in the 2015 Transatlantic Race, such as Elena Ambrosiadou’s, 289ft Dykstra/Perini Navi charter yacht Maltese Falcon, and superyacht Mariette, the 1915 Herreshoff classic, the increased LOA limit for the 46th biennial Rolex Fastnet Race will entice yachts over 100ft to enter and possibly win the Fastnet Challenge Cup, making for a spectacular race from Cowes, Isle of Wight in August 2015.

Rolex Fastnet priority for RORC members

“Another initiative in place for the Rolex Fastnet Race is to give RORC members priority when entering in January 2015,” explains Nick Elliott, RORC Racing Manager. “The race was oversubscribed in 2013 within 24 hours of entry opening with many boats, including those of RORC members, having to go on a waiting list. To cope with demand, the Club increased the limit to 340, but with the 2015 Transatlantic Race from Newport to the Lizard having close to 60 boats and the Rolex Middle Sea Race breaking the 100 boat barrier, we can only envisage another scramble for places when entry opens at midday on the 12th January 2015,” continues Elliott.

Sir Ben Ainslie to co-helm 100ft sailing yacht LEOPARD at J.P. Morgan Asset Management Round the Island Race

June 03, 2014

Written by Zuzana Bednarova

The final countdown to racing at this year’s J.P. Morgan Asset Management Round the Island Race is well underway. The Island Sailing Club (ISC) in Cowes, organisers of the race, along with around 16,000 sailors, are expected to enjoy another exciting RTI Race day on Saturday, June 21.

Smiling in anticipation! John Dudley, Commodore Island Sailing Club, and current Multihull record holder Sir Ben Ainslie, are both on course for a great day on June 21st. Photo: Julia Slack, Slack Photography

Smiling in anticipation! John Dudley, Commodore Island Sailing Club, and current Multihull record holder Sir Ben Ainslie, are both on course for a great day on June 21st. Photo: Julia Slack, Slack Photography

An army of behind-the-scenes volunteers combines with a first-class and well-practiced Race Management team at the ISC to host and run the largest yacht race of its kind in the world. The news channels, whether broadcast, internet or social media, are awash with incredible images and sound bites from this most famous of races held annually in June.

Stories abound of the phenomenal racing prowess of the professionals – the Olympians and World Champions – but there also fascinating and endearing stories from amateur sailors from all over the UK, and from beyond our shores, brought into our homes via the LIVE Race blog and social media feeds.

Do join in! Standard entries close at midnight on Saturday 7th June.

Could Sir Ben Ainslie be the first yachtsman to hold both the multi & monohull RTI course records?

The ISC is delighted that the four time Olympic gold medallist and America’s Cup winner Sir Ben Ainslie is returning to participate in this year’s J.P. Morgan Asset Management Round the Island Race.

Sir Ben will join Mike Slade and his crew on board the current monohull Race record holder, charter yacht Leopard (GBR1R). Sir Ben will co-helm Leopard with Mike and this is a fantastic opportunity for Ben to potentially claim both multi and monohull Race records after breaking last year’s multihull record on the J.P. Morgan BAR AC45 catamaran.

Ben and his team broke the Multihull course record in last year's RTI.  Photo: Lloyd Images

Ben and his team broke the Multihull course record in last year's RTI. Photo: Lloyd Images

Sir Ben Ainslie
“The J.P. Morgan Asset Management Round the Island Race is an event that the whole UK sailing community looks forward to each year. What makes the Race special is the ‘Race for all’ ethos in that no matter how big or small your boat, everyone is racing on level terms.

“Last year’s Race was particularly special for me, we [Ben Ainslie Racing] broke the multihull record in honour of our great friend Andrew Simpson and this year we have been invited to sail with Mike Slade on his Maxi Yacht, Leopard.

“It’s a fantastic boat and one that I have wanted to compete in the race on for many years. I look forward to seeing the thousands of competitors on the start line come June 21st and wish everyone a great 2014 Race.”

Mike Slade
“We have been competing in the Race for over twenty years and each year offers different and intriguing challenges. In that time we have managed to break the Race monohull record on five occasions, including last year’s near-perfect Race conditions that allowed us to shave 10 minutes off our previous record in an elapsed time of 3 hours 43 minutes and 50 seconds.

“What makes the Race so special are the thousands of sailors that compete. It is a wonderful sight to see over 1,600 boats all competing hard to achieve their best time. This year I was delighted to invite Sir Ben to co-helm Leopard.  We have sailed together previously and that proved memorable and I’m hoping for another notable sail.

“Ben is one of the true greats of British sailing and Leopard and her crew are looking forward to welcoming him on-board.”

Competition is rife!

Hoping to break Sir Ben’s Multihull record is the recently announced GC32 Team Richard Mille (GBR1). The talented multihull sailors who hope to break this record are led by the helm Paul Campbell James, member of the AC34 Luna Rossa Challenge and past winner of the Extreme Sailing Series. He will be joined by fellow AC34 Luna Rossa team mate, Nick Hutton; previous winning skipper of the Extreme Sailing Series, Pete Cumming, and GC32 expert Adam Piggott.

Meanwhile the 75 year-old and apparently unstoppable veteran sailor Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, is racing his Open 60 Grey Power (GBR749R). This is the man who will compete solo in the infamous transatlantic Route de Rhum in November this year, 45 years after becoming the first man to sail alone non-stop around the world.

At the other end of the scale, 23 year-old Lizzie Foreman from Surrey, is racing her Mini 6.50 Hudson Wight (633), the boat she is campaigning for next year’s gruelling Mini Transat. Lizzy, who usually sails solo and offshore, will be three up and inshore for the RTI.

The Island Sailing Club is grateful for the continued support of the Race Title Sponsor, J.P. Morgan Asset Management, and the Race Partners for 2014: Dream Yacht Charter, Haven Knox-Johnston, Henri Lloyd, Nautica Watches, Old Pulteney, Raymarine, Red Funnel, Volvo Car UK.