RORC 2019 Caribbean 600 Race Part One

17 Feb

Here I sit typing words into the internet while 37,000ft over the Caribbean sea, winging my way towards Antigua. What an amazing age we live in! Internet connectivity while going this fast over such a lonely stretch of the planet still blows my mind. 

I’m on my way to Antigua to help out on Isbjorn, a Swan 48 that is being campaigned by my good friend Andy Schell. I’m to be a cook on the race, keeping one half of our 12 person crew fed and happy. The race we will be sailing in is the RORC 600. It’s a 600 mile offshore race around the Eastern Caribbean Islands of Antigua, Guadeloupe, St. Kitts and St. Martin, among others. It’s not all 40-year-old Swans sail either. We’ll be sailing with, next to, and on top of some of the highest tech and sophisticated boats in the world. 

Most of my sailing, scratch that – all of my sailing has been in a pretty relaxed context. Decisions are more often made to preserve comfort rather than to increase speed. As a cruising sailor, I’m fine with that. I’ve never been on a serious race boat and haven’t been part of a large team with the common goal of sailing the damn boat as fast as it will go at all times! 

However, I’m looking forward to being part of the crew and not the skipper for once. I don’t have to make all the critical decisions on this trip like I do when on Satori. As skipper, there is the constant pressure of not only looking after the boat and crew but also standing my own watch. All I have to do is not burn the lasagne. 

I’m also excited about the balls to the wall attitude of this race. I seldom push Satori to her limit. She’s still an old boat and the less stuff I break while using her the shorter my never-ending list is come springtime. However, Isbjorn is designed to be sailed hard and fast, she just got done a 2800 mile Atlantic crossing not two weeks ago. Her systems are well found and thoroughly tested. On this race, she will be in her element. Hopefully, I will be too.

Anyway, you slice it, sure beats the 37F we have back in Maryland! 


On arrival, I dove back into the cruising/sailing life. A lot had to be done before the 48 was ready to race. Isbjorn is set up as an ocean crossing charter boat, so a lot of the gear (drogue, hydro gen, binimi, etc.) had to be removed in order to clear the decks for the 12 crew that will be sailing the boat. The spinnaker had been torn during the transatlantic the boat just finished so that had to be changed out as well. Add provisioning and preparations for the crew and we’ve been running ragged each day till 8 pm. 

I do miss this life, you realize how little you need to be content. Somehow spending more time on land always comes with accumulating more comforts and stuff. I bathed in the ocean, lived out of a small bag and drank light Caribbean lager. 

As I type this it’s the night before the race and I am again dead tired. Tomorrow we rise, take on the crew and head towards the start along with 33 other boats in our class. I’m ready and excited to push the boat hard and see the crew and skippers in action. 

We should arrive late Friday night or early Saturday morning if all goes well. I’ll check back in then with stories from our adventure. 

Follow the race here:


This article was syndicated from Cruising – Beautiful Crazy Happiness


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