Niklas Zennstrom’s invincible Ran takes a win in class and a win overall

The 214ft superyacht Hetairos skippered by Vincent Fauquenoy, crossed the finish line in Antigua on Wednesday 22nd February 2012, completing the RORC Caribbean 600 in an elapsed time of 2 days 2 hours 39 minutes and 32 seconds to claim Line Honours. The monumental ketch was well outside the record time set by Rambler 100 last year, however the international team aboard Hetairos were all smiles as they were greeted by well-wishers and a cacophony of horns from megayachts in Falmouth Harbour.

Hetairos navigator, South African Marc Lagesse modestly admitted to being somewhat taken aback with their achievement:

“I have to say, I am genuinely surprised that we were the first yacht home. I honestly thought that we wouldn’t take Line Honours before the race. Hetairos and especially her sails are not optimized for racing on a course like the ‘600. Also I thought that from a navigators point of view, I got a few calls not quite right. However, we did have a few decisions work out for us by chance and I would always say it is better to be lucky than good! For example, we went inshore behind Guadeloupe, to change a sail in flat water and by chance we got a big lift in there. Last year I did this race on a Class40 in a lot of wind, so I have experienced some big contrasts but I really enjoyed this race, an illustrious fleet with great people and a big atmosphere.”

Hetairos were pushed hard all the way by George David’s 90ft maxi, Rambler. It was not until half way through the race that Hetairos managed to pass Rambler. The all star American team put in a fantastic performance but could not match the pace of an opponent over twice their size.

George David spoke candidly shortly after the race:

“It was great to get back in the saddle for a 600-mile race after the Fastnet, and to hold out so long on that course against Hetairos required a magnificent effort. On corrected time, it was never going be easy to win. Rambler 90 was launched in 2002 and hull design and stability has improved significantly since then so it was not just the size that we were up against. However, Mick (Harvey) is a great project manager and Norm (David Petersen) is a great Boat Captain and all the guys are just so much fun to sail with.”

Niklas Zennstrom’s JV72, Rán was the next yacht home, less than an hour behind Rambler to claim the overall lead after time correction in the 2012 RORC Caribbean 600. Rán know that there can be no celebration yet, but Rán has set the bar very high indeed. As the remaining yachts battle it out on the course, Team Rán must wait until this fascinating race plays out. Several yachts are very much in contention to beat Rán’s corrected time.

Rán’s owner and principle helmsman, Niklas Zennstrom looked tired but full of joy after completing a race that he has wanted to do for some time:

“The whole of Team Rán have been looking forward to this race for a while. We have wanted to do this race since 2009. A few of the crew have done the race before, Jeremy Robinson on Leopard for example and he was able to give a lot of input before the race. But Ado (Stead) and Steve (Hayles) have not competed in the ‘600 before, so it has been somewhat new territory for us, which is always exciting. It is a complex course, more like a series of coastal races. However, I think the reason I was attracted to the race so much was that we enjoyed Antigua Sailing Week and the idea of an offshore race in the Caribbean was very appealing. Any 600-mile yacht race is hard but the fantastic conditions and beautifully weather makes this one even more satisfying. The close reach down to Guadeloupe from St.Barths was very memorable, fast reaching conditions in beautiful surroundings, some of the best sailing you can imagine.”

Just after sunset, Olivier Vigoureux’s one-off trimaran Paradox came to rest after over two days of blasting around the Caribbean. The weather-gods did not smile on the team and Region Guadeloupe’s multihull record was never really in doubt, but the crew of Paradox should be delighted to claim the winner’s trophy for the Multihull Class this year. Hopefully their exploits will encourage a bigger fleet of multihulls next year, spearing through the Caribbean at break neck speed is surely every multihull sailor’s dream.

Photos courtesy Tim Wright (