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RORC Nelson's Cup Series - Day 3: Antigua 360, diverse RORC fleet

by Louay Habib 17 Feb 18:01 GMT 15 February 2024
Niklas Zennstrom's Carkeek 52 Rán (SWE) - RORC Nelson's Cup Series - Day 3 © Arthur Daniel / RORC

The 2024 Nelson's Cup Series was back in action on Friday 16th February, with the Antigua 360 Race. Thirty four entries included multihulls racing under MOCRA, three IRC Classes, and the Class40 Division.

A light south easterly breeze provided a comfortable start for the RORC fleet. The start line mirrored the RORC Caribbean 600, providing great practice for the showcase 600-miler which will run for the 15th edition on Monday 19th February. In the IRC Two start Ed Bell's Dawn Treader got away to a flyer, as did James Neville's Ino Noir in IRC One. Jason Carroll's Zoulou and Adrian Keller's Allegra got the best start in the Multihull Class.

The best corrected time under IRC for the Antigua 360 was scored by Niklas Zennstrom's Carkeek 52 Rán (SWE) in IRC One. Leopard 3 (MON) racing in IRC Zero was just a minute behind Rán after IRC time correction.

"A good result for Rán, and that is what matters, but we had a really good tussle with Wizard all the way around the course," commented Niklas Zennstrom. "We got a little bit of a better start but they went offshore and got better breeze and came back into us. We held Wizard off, but off the North East Coast of Antigua the wind went to 10 knots of VMG downwind and they passed us. After that the wind went to a reaching angle and we passed them and extended from there to the finish. It was a really tight race. For 75% of the time Wizard was ahead on corrected time, it was really only the last hour. Team Rán puts a lot of emphasis on preparation, and the intensity of racing is difficult to create in practice. The Nelson's Cup Series is a great event and we fully support the RORC in organising it."

PRO Stefan Kunstmann staggered the starts with the multihulls last away. This produced an epic duel approaching the finish as Erik Maris' MOD70 Zoulou (FRA) ducked Farr 100 Leopard 3 (MON), skippered by Joost Schuijff. Leopard 3 crossed the finish line just 11 seconds ahead of Erik Maris' MOD70 Zoulou! Kiteboarder Tiger Tyson, who will be representing Antigua & Barbuda in the 2024 Paris Olympic Games started last, but finished first. Setting a personal record time of 2 hours, 13 mins 42 secs for the 52-mile race around Antigua.

Jason Carroll's MOD 70 Argo (USA) took Multihull Line Honours in an elapsed time of 3 Hours, 14 mins 23. Zoulou was second over the line, eight minutes behind Argo, with Alexia Barrier's MOD70 Limosa (FRA) third over the line. After MOCRA time correction Argo was the winner, but only by less than two minutes from Adrian Keller's Irens 84 Allegra (SUI). Fabrice Cahierc's Ocean Fifty Planet-R (FRA) was third in class. This was the first race between the three MOD70s since Argo won the RORC Transatlantic Race.

"We have been practising starting a lot over the last few days and we stuck to the system for the Antigua 360. We were also very interested in the first beat and the transition at Green Island, all good information for the '600. Jason (Carroll) was back on the helm and we are all set for the RORC Caribbean 600 start. Everything went well and Jason and the crew are all happy," commented Argo's Chad Corning.

IRC Zero

Farr 100 Leopard 3 (MON) took Monohull Line Honours in an elapsed time of 4 hours 22 mins 14 secs, and won IRC Zero after time correction. Wendy Schmidt's Botin 85 Deep Blue (USA) was second over the line, just under five minutes behind Leopard 3.

"It was a positive way to finish the inshore section of the RORC Nelson's Cup Series," commented Leopard 3 navigator Will Best, as Leopard scored their second win in a row to lead the big boat class for the series. "The inshore races have got the team working together and now it's a full focus for the big race starting on Monday."

IRC One

Niklas Zennstrom was celebrating his birthday and was delighted with Team Rán's performance for the race, which puts Rán up to second in class for the RORC Nelson's Cup Series. Peter & David Askew's Botin 52 Wizard (USA) was second in class for the Antigua 360, three minutes behind Rán after IRC time correction. Frederic Puzin's Ker 46 Daguet 3 (FRA) was third after IRC time correction, but still retains the class lead for the Nelson's Cup Series.

IRC Two

Ed Bell's JPK 1180 Dawn Treader (GBR) was the winner after IRC time correction by less than five minutes from Frans van Cappelle & Michelle Witsenburg's J/122 Moana (NED). Bernard Giroux's Solaris 55 Team 42 (FRA) took line honours for the class in less than seven hours, but after IRC time correction was third.

Dawn Treader's race win puts the young British team as the clear class leader for the Nelson's Cup Series. The series leader has been decided on countback since the very first race; Dawn Treader has been having an aquatic arm-wrestle with local RP37 Warthog (ANT) skippered by Jules Mitchell.

"We knew we had to beat Warthog in order to win the class, so that was the plan," explained Dawn Treader's George Bell, 18 year-old son of owner Ed Bell. "We managed to hold Warthog on the first beat, but they came back to us on the run. After that the wind went forward and Warthog went out wide and we went higher, which worked very well for us, and that was enough to take the win."

Class40

Just three Class40s out of the 11 entered for the RORC Caribbean 600 competed in the Antigua 360 Race. James McHugh's Tquila (GBR) was the winner by over eight minutes from Alexandre Le Gallais' Trim Control (FRA), skippered by Carlo Vroon. Third was Jangada 40 (GBR) skippered by Rupert Holmes.

Tquila's Alister Richardson has taken over the position of navigator as Brian Thompson is racing with Argo for the RORC Caribbean 600. Tquila's crew now has Volvo Ocean Race sailor David Vera on board who races Etchells with the owner James McHugh.

"We have had two days practice, so today was an important race as it was the first time the three of us have raced together as a team," commented Alister Richardson. "David was getting to grips with the bow and I was trying the nav. and strategy. It wasn't perfect but it went well. When things didn't go according to plan we stayed cool and carried on."

The prize-giving for the Antigua 360 Race is part of the RORC Caribbean 600 Sevenstar Welcome Party at the Antigua Yacht Club on Saturday 17th February. The final race for the RORC Nelson's Cup Series will be the RORC Caribbean 600, which starts from Fort Charlotte on Monday 19th February.

Results for the Antigua 360 race can be found HERE

For more information, go to: caribbean600.rorc.org

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