By Louay Habib
ST JOHN’S, Antigua -- Mike Slade's crew on ICAP Leopard were enjoying a cold beer in the Antigua Yacht Club on Wednesday and Leopard's owner, Mike Slade, was really enjoying winding down after a tough race in which ICAP Leopard took Line Honours for the second time.
"That was definitely the toughest of the three races I have done, but I absolutely love this race; the course, the weather and the welcome we receive back in Antigua is just the best, anywhere. The RORC Caribbean is one of the premier yacht races worldwide and ICAP Leopard will definitely be back next year," Slade said.
Peter Aschenbrenner's 63ft trimaran Paradox has been announced as the winner of the RORC Caribbean 600 Multihull Class. Lloyd Thornburg's Gunboat 66, Phaedo, was desperately close to taking the title for the second time but crossed the finish line at 13:31:09, less than an hour behind Paradox on corrected time.
"I have to say I was surprised that we beat Phaedo," admitted Aschenbrenner. "It is very difficult to rate multihulls because they are so different, but we have now raced Phaedo in light airs and heavier breeze and both times the corrected result has been mighty close, so I guess the rating must be working."
Thornburg was delighted to see Paul Aschenbrenner dockside. "Paradox is a quick boat, I noticed Peter didn't have much of a suntan, he doesn't get to spend too long in a boat that fast!" he said.
Filip Balcaen's Baltic 112, Nilaya, completed the race on Wednesday afternoon. The crew included sailors from the Volvo Ocean Race, including Bouwe Bekking calling tactics. Balcaen has been sailing with the same crew for many years, but this was his first RORC Caribbean 600.
"We have competed in quite a number of races, so we are all well used to each other," commented Balcaen. "We wanted to be conservative without much damage and we have done that. We always race to win but also to have fun and we laughed a lot during the race. I have to convince some others Maxi owners to come next year."
Too close to call for overall
The overall winner of the RORC Caribbean 600 Trophy, which is raced under the IRC rating system, is still undecided. Hap Fauth's American JV72, Bella Mente, finished the race just after noon local time and was then in pole position. Fauth, competing in his first RORC Caribbean 600, was all smiles dockside, but the canny American knows that the champagne will have to be kept on ice.
Although several yachts have a mathematical probability of winning overall, Ron O'Hanley's American Cookson 50, Privateer, and the schooner Adela, skippered by Greg Perkins, have a realistic chance of beating Bella Mente to lift the RORC Caribbean 600 Trophy.