Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Halfway point for the Class40s

RORC Caribbean 600 Race Tracker - courtesy of the RORC Caribbean 600 and Geovoile

Halfway point for the Class40s in the RORC Caribbean 600
by Oliver Dewar

Having rounded the southern tip of Nevis pre-dawn on Tuesday, the three Class40s in the RORC Caribbean 600 gybed north-west towards the island of Saba with the Irish duo Michael Boyd and Niall Dowling racing with Miranda Merron and John Patrick Cunningham on 40 Degrees leaving Saba to starboard at 11:00 GMT as the leading monohull, Karl Kwok’s carbon fibre 80 footer, Beau Geste, rounded St Maarten – the northern turning mark in the race - 66 miles further along the race track. “We continued our downwind run to Saba, arriving just after dawn, and rounded quite close to the spectacular, steep-sided island,” reports Merron this morning. “The peak, Mount Scenery, is over 900 metres high, which creates quite a wind shadow. We were allowed to pass without slowing down too much,” she adds.

“The next leg to St Barts was a fast reach,” continues Merron. “Once past the southeast corner, we were treated to some exhilarating downwind sailing with the wind gusting to 25 knots from time to time, flying along at 15 knots.” As 40 Degrees set-off north-east on a starboard reach to the southern tip of St. Barts with Boyd and his crew harassing the two Farr 65 sisterships Spirit of Isis and Spirit of Minerva, Joe Harris and Ocean Warrior rounded Saba just under one hour behind 40 Degrees with the two Class40s separated by approximately four miles. Harris and his team were followed closely round the mark by Willy Bissainte and his crew on Class40 Tradition Guadeloupe with the Beneteau 47.7, Caspian Services and J122 Catapult in pursuit. “We’re currently match racing the Pogo [Tradition Guadeloupe] who has been 20 metres from our hip for last two hours,” commented Josh Hall at midday yesterday.

By mid-afternoon GMT, 40 Degrees was around Grande Pointe, the south-eastern tip of St. Barts, with a lead of three miles over Willy Bissainte on Tradition Guadeloupe and four miles over Joe Harris and Ocean Warrior. By 16:30 GMT, after 24 hours and around 200 miles of racing, all three boats entered Saint-Barthélemy Channel. “We are four miles behind 40 Degrees, running up the west side of St. Maarten,” confirmed Hall as the boat’s tracker briefly began transmitting confusing data. “We held the huge kite tight-ish, reaching for the 30 mile run from St. Barts to St. Maarten, but someone moved the island left at the last minute,” he explains. “So we did a slick down-spinnaker-unroll-headsail, dog it to weather for 20 minutes, then re-hoist.” The team on Ocean Warrior are very pleased with the manoeuvre. “Ellison has been following us and emails constantly with AC job offers, but does not seem to understand that we are easy, but not cheap!” Read more...