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February 21, 2018

RORC Caribbean 600 Record Smashed!

George David has smashed his own record which he set back in 2011 by 2 hours 38 minutes and 17 seconds. Racing his American Maxi Rambler 88, he crossed the finishing line in Antigua this morning at 01:21:45 AST, completing the race in 1 day 13 hours 41 minutes and 45 seconds.

rambler record

Peter Aschenbrenner’s Paradox, crossed the finishing line first, at 00:55:16 AST, with a time of 1 day, 13 hours, 5 minutes ad 16 seconds, taking first place in the Multihull Line honours for 2018. The record set for the multihulls by Phaedo 3 in 2016 is 31 hours 59 minutes and 4 seconds, with Paradox achieving a very respectable 37 hours 5 minutes and seconds.

paradox finish

Once again, the Americans have taken both the top spots, making that seven wins out of ten for the nation. Congratulations to both yachts, and their crew, for completing such a challenging and demanding course in such spectacular fashion.

By Laura Barber


February 21, 2018

Charter a Yacht for the RORC Caribbean 600

It is easy to be inspired by the amazing footage coming back from the RORC Caribbean 600 race. It is truly incredible when you see the skill and expertise that is required to participate in such an event, and witness the power wielded by mother nature, and ability of those competing in harnessing that power to their advantage.

charter rorc

Racing for France, Earendil

There are opportunities available to experience this incredible race first-hand, to push yourself to the limit, and see if you’ve got what it takes to complete one of the most challenging off-shore races in the world. If you were to charter a yacht for this race, you would circum-navigate around eleven of the Caribbean islands, as far north as Anguilla and as southerly as Les Saints, in Guadeloupe. Whether you choose to take on this challenge on your own, with colleagues, friends, or family, the team work involved in completing such a demanding race will never be forgotten.

charter rorc

One example of a yacht that you can charter for this race is the Volvo Open 70, called Monster Project. This 70 foot yacht has a beam of 5.7, and a top speed of 30+ knots. Monster Project was the first charter yacht to complete the RORC Caribbean 600 back in 2014, coming a very respectable 4th place. To ensure that everyone is fully prepared there is mandatory pre-race training. With the yacht fully skippered, and with a professional core crew, there is no reason for you not to fulfill this once in a lifetime opportunity.

monster project 1

Monster Project

monster project 2

By Laura Barber

 


February 20, 2018

Day Two of the RORC Caribbean 600

It has been a thrilling twenty -four hours of racing, with strong trade winds, high seas, and squalls causing huge shifts in the wind speed and direction. It has certainly been testing the skills and expertise of the participating sailors.

At present, Paradox, from the Cayman Islands, is storming ahead, working its way through one of the trickiest parts of the race, straight into wind, passing south of Guadeloupe. Paradox, is a one off 63′ Trimaran, and has skipper Peter Aschenbrenner at the helm.

rorc Paradox

Paradox

Hot on their heels is Rambler 88, a Canting keel sloop, and is now leading the race for the monohulls. At the helm is George David, who set the record in 2011 aboard Rambler 100, and with such strong weather conditions it’ll be interesting to see if he can break his own record.

R88

Rambler 88, preparing for the start of the race

At it stands 15 yachts have so far retired from the race, many for technical problems, which in accordance to race rules require them to return to port.

CQS

CQS, retired from the race due to technical problems

taz

Taz, retired from the race due to a crew injury

danneskjold rorc

Danneskjold, retired from the race due to minor damage

Whenever out at sea, you must never under-estimate the power of the elements, and with such strong and challenging weather conditions present throughout this race, safety is of the uttermost importance. Last night at 20.20 AST, the crew from Fujin were rescued off Saba where their American Bieker 53 Multihull had capsized. All eight-crew managed to scramble their way on top of the hull, where they awaited rescue. Stephen Cucchiaro’s Gunboat 60, Flow, was reported to have stood by until the rescue was underway, and the German Ker 56, Varuna, was reported to have altered course to assist but has now continued racing. Although rivalry can be rife during such prestigious races, it is heart-warming to see such examples of humanity.

FUJIN

Fujin, all eight crew are safe

With wind strength persevering, and the wave height due to increase,  we wish all the crews an exhilarating but safe continuation of the race.

By Laura Barber

 


February 19, 2018

10th Edition of the RORC Caribbean 600 Begins

Monday 19th February saw the start of the long awaited 10th edition of the RORC Caribbean 600. Starting just outside the historic English Harbour, crowds lined the cliff top above Hercules Pillars to see the magnificent spectacle of over eighty sailing yachts begin the challenging and demanding race, circum-navigating around eleven of the Caribbean islands, to win the coveted trophy.

rorc crowd

The RORC Caribbean 600 had rapidly gained in popularity over the years and is a favourite with off-shore sailors wanting to challenge themselves. The stunning scenery may end up passing in a blur this year as competitors see themselves facing some of the toughest conditions ever seen in this race. With 20 knots forecast for the initial three days,  and with gusts of more than 30 knots, squalls, and significant wave height of two metres, building to three by Wednesday, it is setting out to be an exhilarating race for the participants.

rorc warm up

The view from Fort Charlotte, as the boats prepare for the start of the race.

rorc adjusting sail

Crews adjusting the sails before the race begins

rorc race begins

The race commences at 11am

The record for the monohull was set in 2011 by George David, in Rambler 100, with an amazing time of 40 hours 20 minutes and 02 secs. The record for the multihull was set in 2016, by Lloyd Thornburg and Brian Thompson, in MOD70 Phaedo 3, with an jaw dropping 31 hours 59 minutes and 04 seconds.

race begins 2

With such quick times we could be expecting the first yachts back as early as tomorrow night!

By Laura Barber


February 19, 2018

RORC Caribbean 600, 2018

Excitement is building with just one more day until the 10th edition of the RORC Caribbean 600 race gets underway in Antigua on Monday 19th February.  With winds of over 20 knots forecast for the period of the 600mile race, these record-breaking conditions are sure to produce exhilarating racing conditions for the participating sailors.

The RORC (Royal Ocean Racing Club) Caribbean 600 has grown in reputation since its beginning back in 2009, and is now one of the most sought- after races for off- shore sailors. This is illustrated with an incredible 88 yachts that have entered this year, coming from six continents and over 22 nations. This exciting race around eleven of the Caribbean islands has certainly proven its popularity.  The Caribbean 600 is a complex and demanding race, and attracts some of the world’s top off-shore sailors, including winners from the America’s Cup, Olympic Games, and Volvo Ocean Race. With such skill and expertise at the helms, alongside passionate amateurs, it is going to be a thrilling week of  racing. The 600NM course will test the sailors to the limit, as they negotiate currents, winds and navigational challenges to work their way between the  islands as far north as Anguilla, and as far south as Les Saints, in Guadeloupe.

rorc course

American yacht owners have shown their dominance in this race, having won six out of the nine occasions, as well as setting both the monohull and multihull records. With thirteen teams competing from there this year, they are favourite to win yet again, but they face strong competition by opponents from Australia, France, Great Britain, Germany, and Ireland. In fact, a record breaking eleven yachts will be hoisting the flag for France this year.

With the start line positioned just outside the picturesque English Harbour, there will be 10minute intervals between the different classes. 11am will see the combined fleet of IRC 2,3 CSA, this will be followed at 11.10 by the IRC 1 and Class 40s. At 11.20 IRC Zero and Superyachts, and finally the nine multihulls at 11.30.

rorc racing 1

With the prize giving and closing party scheduled for Friday 23rd February at the Antigua Yacht Club, it’ll be a nail biting week of racing.

By Laura Barber

 

 


February 5, 2018

Antigua Superyacht Challenge 2018

The Antigua Superyacht Challenge is something of an enigma, and this is probably due to the exclusivity of the event where no sponsorship is deemed necessary. This exclusive event has been created especially for the owners of Superyachts that exceed 80 feet, and consists of five days of spirited fun and camaraderie between the competitors, both afloat and ashore. In fact, the coveted Gosnell Trophy is awarded to the worthiest yacht that has competed the fairest, and in the Spirit of Regatta.

REBECCA 1

Racing, yacht Rebecca

The Antigua Superyacht Challenge is held at the historic Nelson’s Dockyard, providing a stunning background for this special occasion. With seven impressive yachts signed up for this year’s event, it is sure to be a fabulous regatta.

rACING 2

Racing underway

There are events planned for every evening, kick starting with the traditional Welcome Cocktail Party held at the picturesque Gunpowder House Restaurant overlooking Nelson’s Dockyard on the evening of the 31st January. This is followed on Thursday night by the famous Cook Off, with a fancy-dress theme of Diwali, and Friday there is a paddle board competition and beach party. A trip to the Caribbean wouldn’t be complete without a traditional night of cocktails, food, dancers, and entertainers. With racing starting at 11am every day, the competitors had better take care when sampling the local rum!

The list of the yachts taking part is impressive, with six of the seven yachts having competed in last year’s regatta.

In the Corsairs Class-

SPIIP, a 34.2 metre Royal Huisam, was built in 2000. She has a beam of 7.8 metres, and a top speed of 14 knots.

SPIIP 3

Elfje, is a 46 metre Royal Huisman, built in 2014. She has a beam of 7.1 meters, and a top speed of 12 knots. Her owner is Wendy Schmidt, the wife of Google’s executive chairman Eric Schmit. She founded the 11th Hour Project in 2006 to support the wiser use of our energy, food and water resources in the world. In fact, Wendy played a huge role in the building of her eco-friendly yacht Elfje, which is extremely fuel efficient.

ELFJE

Rebecca is a 42.43 metre, German Frers design reproduction ketch. She has a traditional design, but with all the latest sailing technology which has been subtly blended so as not to spoil her classic looks. She even has a wireless audio system so that the crew can communicate effectively

REBECCA 6

REBECCA 7

In the Buccaneers Class-

Acadia is 27.5 metre, a Hoek design, and was built in 2016. She has beam of six metres, and although has all the classic lines, she is fitted out with all the latest technologies.

ARCADIA 8

Acadia in pursuit of the yacht Zig Zag.

Zig Zag is a 25 metre Oyster built in 2007, and has a beam of 6.4 metres.

ZIG ZAG 5

Marama is a 32 metre aluminium ketch, with Paul Deeth, the owner of Admiral’s Inn, at the helm for the regatta.

MARAMA

Danneskjold is a 32 metre Dixon Yacht design, built in 2009. She has a beam of 7 metres, and a top speed of 12 knots.

DANNESKJOLD

Danneskjold with her eye-catching sails

DANNESKJOLD

With the fifth and final race held yesterday (Sunday 4th Feb), it was everything to play for in the Corsairs Class. With the wind building throughout the day, the yachts in the Corsairs Class battled it out over the 23 mile course. With Elfje taking first place, Spiip second, and Rebecca third. Spiip still managed to clinch first place overall in the regatta, even though it was only by one point, with Elfje coming second, and Rebecca third.

The yachts in the Buccaneers class completed an 18 mile course, with Acadia securing first place once again. In fact, Acadia accomplished a perfect score line throughout the regatta and were confirmed winners of their class. Danneskjold took second, and with Zig Zag picking up a penalty point, she shared third place with Marama.

MARINA

Tied back up after a great day of sailing

In an area so seeped with the history of battles and hostility afloat, it is great to see Nelson’s Dockyard engaging in a modern day spirit of a more amenable nature. With no blood shed, just good spirits and camaraderie, they battled it out to win the sought-after barrels rum, and the Gosnell trophy. Congratulations to Spiip, who not only won their class, but also the Gosnell Trophy, showing good sportsmanship and spirit throughout the regatta.  The prize giving was held at the Admiral’s Inn, a fitting setting to conclude this unique and memorable regatta, and we look forward to seeing the battle between the Superyachts re-commence next year.

By Laura Barber


January 21, 2018

Exploring Guadeloupe by Yacht continued…

Continuing south from Pigeon Island, we decided to give Basse-Terre a miss and carry on down to the Isles Des Saintes. We motored around, exploring some of the smaller islands before picking up a mooring at Bourg De Saintes. Venturing ashore after having lunch aboard, we were pleasantly surprised with the range of shops, including a choice of some lovely craft and gifts. We bought a couple of fantastic little watercolours from a resident artist, depicting local scenes. A great little memento to take home. There are numerous bars and restaurants to choose from and we chose Ti Kaz, a popular restaurant overlooking the bay. The outlook was spectacular.

We woke up in the morning to see the mega yacht Maltese Falcon anchored behind us, not something you see every day! This 88 metre luxury sailing mega yacht is available to charter and can accommodate up to 12 guests.

Maltese Falcon

Back to reality on our more affordable yacht, we indulge in freshly baked croissants and other bakery delights that are one of the bonuses of visiting a French island. Continuing round, we picked up mooring at Pain de Sucre. With the water being much clearer, snorkeling was in order. Keeping to the rocky coastline, the collection of multi-coloured fish was amazing, including starfish, rays, eels, turtles, and an array of multi-coloured reef fish.

Reef Guadeloupe 2

With the wind picking up slightly in the afternoon, a spot of windsurfing was in order. With my Kindle in hand, I settled down to read on the fore deck, while my husband kept himself entertained jibing across the bay.

Dan windsurfing Guadeloupe

The following day we lifted the anchor, and headed for the island of Marie Galante. A careful approach is required due to the vast number of fishing buoys that litter the approach to the bay of St Louis. This is a beautiful bay with crystal, clear water. Taking the dingy ashore to find some where for lunch, we were somewhat let down with what was on offer. Returning to the boat for lunch, we decided to continue south and head for Grand Bourg. Described as a ‘picturesque harbour with lots of amenities’, we were disappointed with what we discovered. With no berths, or anchoring available inside the harbour, we turned and headed back up the way we’d come and decided to anchor at Folle Anse, which is positioned between St Louis and Grand Bourg. This is a completely deserted stretch of beach and one could imagine a castaway setting. With the advantage of being self-sufficient, the BBQ was soon lit and our  dinner underway. For all its false starts of Marie Galante, you could not fault the crystal, clear waters that surround you. It would, however, be one stop I would miss out in future.

With Point-a- Pitre our next destination, we raised the anchor with thoughts of French cuisine making our mouths water. Choosing to go into a marina for the first time on our trip, we were not disappointed with the Marina Bas-du- Fort. The place is a hub of bars, restaurants and shops and was quite a sensory overload after our peaceful itinerary so far. But with delicious smells assaulting our senses who were we to complain. We were spoilt for choice, with a large selection of waterside restaurants offering a variety of fare. Satisfyingly full, we spent the afternoon relaxing on the boat, before heading out to enjoy the sunset at one of the many bars on offer. The shops, in traditional French custom, stay open late and offers the opportunity for some evening browsing.

Clearing out of customs after breakfast was a delight, as once again we were presented with a computer terminal. Throwing off the stern lines we headed out of the marina and enjoyed absorbing the stunning coastline from our yacht as we made our way east. We headed for the Petite-Terre islands, two uninhabited islands. The approach is quite hair raising, so check your charts, and you also have the current to contend with. Poking our nose in, it looked an amazing place to spend the night but unfortunately there were no mooring buoys available. With only 14 provided and a couple of boats already queuing we decided to cut our losses, as it is a National Nature Reserve, you are unable to anchor. I think that when the day boats go, the place would be quite magical, with only the smattering of other boats that are moored to share the islands with. Definitely one to add to a future itinerary.

As there are few sheltered places to anchor on the east side of the island we decided to head back towards Antigua and spend the night at Green Island.

Green Island

Green Island is uninhabited, unless of course you count the abundant hermit crabs that have made it their home. The bay is well protected due to the numerous reefs that litter this area, which in turn provides a snorkeling paradise. There are various places to disappear and explore, so you don’t need to concern yourself with an influx of other snorkelers. Swimming alongside rays and puffer fish, turtles, and yellow tailed snappers, it really was a perfect way to end our yacht charter.

By Laura Barber

 


January 11, 2018

Exploring Guadeloupe by Yacht

With the heating turned up and the curtains closed tight against the driving rain, thoughts can easily turn to escaping it all and soaking up the sun on some island paradise. With sun drenched beaches, turquoise sea and an abundance of marine life to discover, the Caribbean has it all. We decided to explore the French island of Guadeloupe on our own private yacht.

Map Guadeloupe

Positioned south of Antigua and north of Dominica, it is part of the Leeward Islands. When you look on a map, the main islands resemble a butterfly, and although are often referred to as a single island are in fact two. Basse-Terre to the west, and Grande-Terre to the east. They are separated by the Salee’ River, but connected by bridges. Guadeloupe also includes the smaller islands of Marie-Galante, La Desirade and the Iles des Saintes, so there is plenty to explore.

As there are no direct flights from the UK to Guadeloupe, we chose to start our yacht charter from Antigua. With direct daily flights of less than eight hours it was by far the easiest choice for us. Alternatively, you can fly from the UK to Paris and catch a connecting direct fight to Guadeloupe.

Leaving Jolly Harbour, we arrived at Deshaies, north east of Guadeloupe, in less than three and a half hours. Deshaies makes an ideal stop as you can clear customs easily with the welcoming blinking eye of a computer terminal, which is every cruisers dream. Ten minutes and two euros later, we were all done. With a hammock and several other souvenirs later, yes, I think these terminals are strategically placed (!) we went to have a wander round. With a range of shops to explore and a variety of restaurants to choose from, we settled on a bustling restaurant overlooking the bay. Trying to be adventurous we both ordered Ti Punch, a poplar local aperitif. Wow, it was too strong for us! After a delicious lunch of fresh fish and steak, we returned to our vessel for a siesta.  With the afternoon spent swimming and snorkeling we settled for a relaxing BBQ aboard our yacht for the night.

catherine's bar

Catherine’s Bar, aka Death in Paradise, Deshaies.

Raising the anchor after breakfast we headed south, anchoring just off the mainland at Malendure Beach, opposite Pigeon Island. Relaxing on the fore deck you can hardly miss the number of turtles surfacing the water in the bay. Donning our snorkels, in we went. I don’t think that I have ever swum where there have been so many turtles,  it was amazing.

Turtle Guadeloupe

We waited until later in the afternoon before taking the dingy across to Pigeon Island, as it can become very popular with the dive boats and snorkelers. With everyone gone, we had the place to ourselves After tying our dingy to one of the many buoys provided, do not drop your anchor here, we entered the Coral Garden, which is two tiny islets and part of the Guadeloupe National Park. We were amazed by how clear the water was and disappearing beneath the water you enter a truly different world. With a unique concentration of marine life, you will be rewarded with an array of colourful reef fish. It is one of the best places to snorkel in Guadeloupe.

Parrot fish

Pleasantly exhausted from a day of swimming and snorkeling, dining aboard was agreeable by all.

Catch up on my next blog to see where we travel to next…

By Laura Barber

 

 


January 1, 2018

Yachting in Antigua continued…..

Raising the anchor at English Harbour, we took the short trip round to Falmouth Harbour and once again anchored, this time just off Pigeon Beach. The water was amazingly clear, and we enjoyed snorkeling off the boat, spotting many turtles. We took the dingy ashore and had an amazing lunch at Catherine’s Café Plage. Relaxing on the sunbeds and hammocks afterwards makes it more than just a lunchtime booking. After prising ourselves from our stupor, we decided to explore Falmouth and continued round on the dingy. Falmouth has the hustle and bustle of lots of restaurants and bars positioned close together and evokes a lively atmosphere. We stopped for dinner at Cloggy’s, a restaurant positioned with amazing views over the marina and a great way to spot which superyachts are in. Falmouth, alongside English Harbour, is the base for the renowned Antigua Yacht Charter Show.  From the 5th-9th December the place literally becomes overrun with superyachts and mega yachts which are all available for private charter.

Continuing round the island will lead you to Carlisle Bay, which is a beautifully protected anchorage with two of the top hotel resorts on the island hugging its coastline. It’s a great place to snorkel and to indulge in a variety of water sports. We lowered the jet ski and had great fun riding the waves, water-skiing, and gripping hold of the Screamer, aptly named. The warm turquoise seas make participating in any water sports a pleasure.

dan monoski

Heading up the east side of the island you come to Cades Reef. This is a horseshoe shaped reef that offers great protection when snorkeling or diving. There are over two miles of reef to explore and an abundance of sea life to discover, this is an unmissable stop. We saw rays, puffer fish, turtles, yellow tailed snappers, barracuda, among a host of other reef fish.

turtle antigua

There are numerous picture-perfect beaches on the return trip to Jolly Harbour, and we chose to anchor off Darkwood Beach to enjoy the last few hours of our charter aboard our yacht. Indulging in one last cocktail, with the sun setting gave an enchanting end to our amazing week.

sunset

By Laura Barber


December 22, 2017

Yachting in Antigua

As the nights are drawing in and temperatures drop, thoughts of swaying palm trees, turquoise seas and a cocktail in hand can seem like a distant dream. But with daily direct flights from the UK, those dreams could easily become a reality. With a flight time of less than 8 hours, and with only a four hour time difference, you could be combing one of the 365 beaches that Antigua is famous for, enjoying the crystal, clear sea, and pristine golden sands sooner than you think.

Antigua map

Fortunate to have come away unscathed from the recent spurt of hurricanes, Antigua has something to offer everyone. There is a vast range of accommodation to choose from. You could be sipping a cocktail from your own secluded beach villa, at anchor on a private yacht, or with the waves lapping at your feet at one of the numerous top-class hotels.

Having spent a week on a private motor yacht charter, I can definitely say that Antigua is a boating paradise. With numerous sheltered bays to anchored in, to either sojourn for lunch, or to spend the night, you’ll be spoilt for choice.

We started our yacht charter at Jolly Harbour Marina, which offers an array of restaurants, bars, and shopping experiences. If you enjoy a good Indian then meander down to Castaways, on South beach, where their authentic Indian chefs will whip you up a culinary feast. The entrance to the marina is well protected and offers an alternative place for those who prefer to be out of the hustle and bustle of a marina.

Jolly Beach yacht

Jolly Beach

Heading north, passing by Five Islands, Deep Bay makes an excellent overnight stopover. For those who enjoy snorkeling, they can indulge in exploring the shipwreck of the Andes, which is positioned at the entrance. Or, step ashore and take the short hike up to Fort Barrington to experience some truly breath- taking views of the island. We continued, passing by the capital, St Johns, and dropped anchor at the idyllic Dickenson’s Bay. There are a variety of beach front restaurants to choose from, we opted for Coconut Grove, and enjoyed some delicious traditional Caribbean fare.

Picking up a mooring buoy at the picturesque Green Island is essential. We explored the uninhabited island, finding hermit crabs galore, before disappearing below the sea to encounter some of the best snorkeling on the island. Losing yourself as you glide through the serene warm waters and swimming alongside turtles, puffer fish, yellow tailed snappers, and stingrays, makes a truly unforgettable experience.

Reef pic

Under Captains command, the yacht sailed south to the picturesque English Harbour. As the only working Georgian dockyard in the world it has recently been given UNESCO title, to protect and preserve the remarkable site. It is full of history and charming buildings, and has a selection of appealing shops, restaurants, and bars. We anchored at Freemans Bay, with Galleon beach at our bow and the delightful views over English Harbour to our stern, we couldn’t have hoped for a more enchanting setting. We decided to have lunch ashore at Boom, which is situated just by the gunpowder room. With hammocks and sunbeds to laze in, and an infinity pool overlooking Nelson’s Dockyard for cooling off, the location was faultless. We had a delicious lunch at the poolside restaurant and indulged in some pampering at the spa. A truly relaxing day.

Admiral's Inn

View from Boom over to Pillars restaurant, at the Admirals Inn

For dinner we treated ourselves at Pillars, the a la carte restaurant at the Admirals Inn, which is delightfully positioned next to the water. The food and service are great, a place I’d definitely recommend. To walk off our indulgences we woke early the following morning, the best time of the day in the Caribbean, and hiked up from the beach to Shirley Heights, following the Lookout Trail. Roughly about a mile and a half and mostly up hill, we arrived slightly out of breath at Shirley Heights, famous for its Sunday night sunset parties. At this time of the morning we enjoyed the peace and tranquility of having it to ourselves and took in the breath- taking views across English and Falmouth Harbour, and as it was a clear day, Montserrat and Guadeloupe. The journey back down is much easier and is only about ½ mile, depositing us back on Galleon beach where we cooled off in the sea. There is a great place to snorkel just off Freeman’s Bay, on the inside of the red marking buoy. If you snorkel around the rocks to Hercules Pillars, you will see an array of multi-coloured fish and turtles.

Shirley Heights

The view from Shirley Heights down to our boat at anchor at Freeman’s Bay

Catch my next blog, where we cruise the rest of Antigua.

By Laura Barber