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Leopard Pounces in Caribbean 600

Smokin’ on the water – ICAP Leopard powers to weather during the RORC Caribbean 600.

RORC Caribbean 600
©2009 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

The inaugural RORC Caribbean 600 came in like a lion on Monday, and went out like a leopard this morning — ICAP Leopard, to be exact. Mike Slade’s spectacular 100-ft Farr maxi took early command of the monohull contingent of this brand new race and never relinquished it, finishing the pinball-like course around the Leeward Antilles in 44 h, 5 m. That’s 600 miles in less than two days, which gives you some idea of the equally spectacular conditions the 25-boat fleet sailed in — bright sun, boisterous seas and a whole bunch of warm tradewind.
But with all deserved kudos for her amazing performance — Leopard finished some 70 hours before the Swan 90 DSK Pioneer was due in — they weren’t the first across the finish line. That achievement went to the ORMA 60 trimaran Region Guadeloupe (ex-Primagaz), which was skippered by John Burnie and crewed by a group of eight guys who normally make their livings — as superyacht skippers! They set the first multihull and overall record: 40 h, 11 m.

Even with 23 boats still on the race course as of this morning — ranging in size from the Giro 34 Claire de Vents to the splendid 115-ft Farr ketch Sojana — this race already has all the trappings of an instant classic. So a ‘lions share’ of kudos also goes to the Royal Ocean Racing Club, who came up with the idea of a ‘grand tour’ of the Leeward Islands starting off at English Harbor, Antigua, on February 23. The course takes competitors around a dozen marks off nine different islands (some of which are themselves the marks), and finishes back off Antigua. Overall scoring will be based on IRC handicaps.

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A little pirate and his mum got splattered with confetti as they walked in front of one of the colorful music troops.
Intrepid photographer Peter Lyons captured Sunday’s action, rain be damned. © Peter Lyons Constant, heavy rain on Sunday wasn’t enough to deter over 60% of the Corinthian YC Midwinters fleet from showing up for the final day of the series.