Following on from a similar performance in the Sydney-Hobart Race, Southern Spars rigged yachts claim all three podium spots, the overall win and the Superyacht division in the Rolex Caribbean 600.
George David’s Rambler 88 crossed the finish line in Antigua ahead of the fleet, to take his third line honours victory in the race, which is becoming known as one of the classics of ocean racing. David’s 88-footer, designed by Juan K, finished four hours in front of Mike Slade’s 100-foot Leopard and another hour ahead of Hap Fauth’s 72-foot Bella Mente. It would be Bella Mente that would take the overall win on corrected time after swapping the lead seven times with fellow IRC72 Proteus.
However, Hap Fauth and his crew were forced to wait for many hours after finishing for the story to finish playing out. Some smaller yachts, still out on the race course, caught onto a good patch of breeze and managed to briefly overtake the Mini Maxi. However Bella and her crew had set too high a target, and the smaller yachts were unable to hold pace.
Fauth was ecstatic with the win, after being forced to retire last year due to keel damage “We are beat; there is nothing left as the whole team gave 120% or more…unbelievable,” he said. “We are just delighted to have prevailed. We had a match race for 500 miles with Proteus, and that is a really well-sailed boat. It was really, really good sailing. Bella Mente is the oldest Maxi 72 on the circuit, and I am the oldest helmsman, but if I am still out of the ground next year, I will be back. This crew is the best in the world. I just stay at the back and get all of the applause.”
In the superyacht division, Shamana, a Swan 115, claimed the win in just her second regatta.
Daniel Calascione, her skipper, said “As far as training for the Caribbean 600, we did one event in November and that glued the crew together, plus two days training before the race and everyone was back into the rhythm. Being a superyacht with all the luxury amenities, we have quite a bit of extra weight, and we struggle against the race boats below 8 or 10 knots, and we had quite a lot of that! We needed a lot of patience at frustrating times waiting for the wind to fill in, but it makes it a bit more exciting and adds a little more of a tactical dimension to the race, which I think we enjoyed.”
The Caribbean 600 is a notoriously technical race, with many corners and sail changes. Rambler 88 tactician, Brad Butterworth says it was a particularly tricky race, especially for bigger boats, for whom sail changes take much more time.
“We had to make a lot of sail changes which is very grueling on the crew,” said Butterworth. “This boat is like a Volvo 70 on steroids; it has unlimited power, and in these conditions, the helm is still relatively easy to handle, and there is a lot of water coming over the bow… Racing a boat like Rambler 88, you need a really good crew, and we have guys that have the experience to get the boat going faster all the time.”
Bella Mente and fellow IRC72 Proteus crew, compared sail-change war stories on social media. Proteus crew estimated that they had changed sails more than 60 times, whereas Bella Mente reported more than 100 changes.
Rambler owner, George David, who set the course record in 2011 on his previous yacht, Rambler 100, says that they will be back again to attempt to win the event on handicap as well.