Monday 23 April 2018

Sailing: Caribbean calm stops Kwok from catching '09 Leopard time

WM Nixon

Classic trade-wind sailing in the Caribbean is just the job for dampened spirits in the depths of February. It has three key ingredients -- sunshine, fair winds and warm water. But it loses some of its charm when even one ingredient is missing. And if two are missing, some folk want their money back.

So this week's Caribbean 600, the new classic of the global offshore circuit, hasn't quite been ticking all the boxes. At one stage the varied fleet found themselves plugging into a southerly headwind when they should have been reaching enormous speeds in an easterly.

And then a calm spot at the south end of the island of Guadeloupe parked every boat in the fleet. Thus when Karl Kwok's majestic Farr 80 Beau Geste from Hong Kong finished in Antigua on Wednesday, by taking monohull line honours in a time of two days 11 hours 21 minutes and 13 seconds, they were outside the time of two days set by Mike Slade's 100ft Leopard in the inaugural race last year.

Leopard didn't return this year but Slade will be pleased that his 2009 course-record time is gaining in status.

With the calm making the biggest dent at the middle of the fleet, it became impossible for Adrian Lee's 2009 corrected-time winner, the Cookson 50 Lee Overlay Partners, to beat Beau Geste on handicap. The Dun Laoghaire owner-skipper was in the midst of a battle with the American Cookson 50 Privateer (Ron O'Hanly), which beat the Irish boat by one and a half hours to take third overall, with Lee placing fourth.

The Open 40 sailed by Ireland's Michael Boyd and Niall Dowling was also parked by the calm, so as the tail-enders closed towards the finish with the proper easterly back in business, it looked like the low-rated vintage Swan 38 Dolfijn (Richard Bamford) might be headed for the main prize, but last night it was confirmed that Beau Geste was the winner.

Sunshine sailing was one of the themes at the annual awards ceremony of the Irish Cruising Club in Dublin last night, with premier trophy the Faulkner Cup going to Trevor Lusty of Strangford Lough for a voyage to Brazil, Uruguay and Argentina on the 54ft ketch Sea Fever. The Strangford Cup for an alternative best cruise went to Donal Walsh of Dungarvan. His boat Lady Kate is only 31ft long, but made an impressive circuit of the Baltic in 12 weeks.

Another focus of the ICC's programme last summer was a cruise-in-company in the Azores, which produced the Atlantic Trophy for the best cruise with a passage of at least a thousand miles by Frank Ranalow of Kilrush, who sailed to the islands with his 39ft ketch Shady Maid, while Mick Brogan of Kinvara gets the Fingal Trophy for his cruise to the Faroes with his ketch-rigged 44ft Galway hooker Mac Duiach.

Irish Independent

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