News IMA Caribbean Maxi Challenge starts tomorrow with strong RORC Caribbean 600 line-up

IMA Caribbean Maxi Challenge starts tomorrow with strong RORC Caribbean 600 line-up

Antigua, 20 February 2022

The International Maxi Association s Caribbean Maxi Challenge is due to make a strong start from Antigua tomorrow, Monday 21 February, with the new series’ first event, the Royal Ocean Racing Club’s Caribbean 600.

Of the 74 yachts competing, 18 are maxi monohulls of 60+ft LOA plus five 60+ft multihulls, including three similarly-rated former MOD70 trimarans. Maxis regularly win line honours in the Caribbean 600 but have frequently won the race overall including Karl Kwok’s Beau Geste (2010), George David’s Ramblers (2011/18), Hap Fauth’s Bella Mentes (2015/17) and George Sakellaris’ Shockwave (2014) and Proteus (2016) and the Askew brothers Wizard (2019).

However the moderate forecast may at times suit a boat that knows this course well - the Farr 100 2009/2013 line honours winner, Leopard. “It is probably more favourable than a heavier air race when Comanche and Skorpios will surf,” predicts long term skipper Chris Sherlock. “Less wind gives us a better chance of hanging on to them under IRC.”

Sherlock reckons the race as being Comanche’s to lose. “She is more nimble and can change sails quicker and is the form boat having won the Transatlantic triple. She sails fairly wide angles, but is an extremely impressive boat. Having so many legs [of the race] will suit Comanche better than Skorpios. Our goal is to finish on the podium on the water and hopefully under IRC.”

This is another crew loaded with heavyweights including Paul Standbridge, Guillermo Altadill, Richard Bouzaid, Gerry Mitchell, etc. Navigating is Hugh Agnew: “It looks like a pretty conventional medium to light trades of 12-17 knots – so not hooning. That could be good for Leopard – we want more displacement conditions.”

Chasing the big boats will be an extraordinary fleet of former Volvo Ocean Race boats, including six VO70s and three VO65s, which are certain to have strong competition. Many are out of class, especially the Danish VO70 L4 Trifork, skippered by Jens Dolmer but with a crew including multiple Volvo Ocean Race skipper Bouwe Bekking and Brazilian Joca Signorini, who raced on this boat in the 2008-09 Volvo Ocean Race when she won as Ericsson 4.

Joca Signorini (left) with Volvo Ocean Race legend Bouwe Bekking. Photo: Tim Wright/

Since then the boat has been fully turboed, fitted with an extra set of lateral foils (originally from an Emirates Team New Zealand foiling catamaran). L4 Trifork doesn’t fully fly but the foils provide lift to leeward (in addition to her original vertical daggerboards) and has enabled her bulb to be lightened. In addition, her bowsprit is longer, the mainsail has a larger square head and the headsails are larger. While standard VO70s were said to have occasionally hit speeds of over 40 knots, L4 Trifork has managed 45.

“When you are going over 20 knots, it feels nice,” says tactician Bouwe Bekking. “From the new foils you get righting moment. When you are sailing apparent wind, it feels like very high sustained speeds, you jump over the waves a little bit more than usual. The boat goes nicely downwind.”

But with these modifications L4 Trifork has a 70 points higher IRC rating than the next highest VO70, Yacht Club Sopot’s Ocean Breeze. “When it is windy, you can out sail the rating, but on a course like this…” muses Bekking of the winding Caribbean 600 course. Among the VO65s is Groovederci Racing - Sailing F, entered by Californian former Mumm 30, Farr 40 and Melges 32 campaigner Deneen Demourkas and a strong crew including Match Racing and M32 World Champion, Taylor Canfield.

Other maxis include the former Hexagon/Pindar Open 60, now Richard Tolkien’s Rosalba and the former Alegre Mills 68, now called Prospector. Lower rated maxis competing in IRC Zero include Todd Stuart’s Swan 82 White Rhino, the Swan 60 Lee Overlay Partners II and Jean-Pierre Dreau’s Mylius 60 Lady First III.

For French 2024 Vendée Globe contender Christopher Pratt on Lady First III this will be his first Caribbean 600, but their participation in both this and the RORC-IMA Transatlantic Race has been planned for years.

“The course is just amazing,” says Pratt.  “There are a lot of manoeuvres to manage, which we like a lot.” Lady First III’s pro-amateur crew includes other French pros such as Mini/Figaro sailor Xavier Macaire, last year’s La Solitaire du Figaro runner-up. These solo sailing experts will get to enjoy some unfamiliar luxuries says Pratt. “We are not cruising, but the boat is really comfortable - we have a freezer, hot water and we have wine with dinner AND lunch.”

The first warning signal for this will be at 1050 local time (Monday) with the majority of the maxis competing in IRC Super Zero setting sail at 11.20.

The IMA Caribbean Maxi Challenge continues with the Heineken St Maarten Regatta, Les Voiles de St Barth before returning for Antigua Sailing Week at the end of April.

2022 IMA Caribbean Maxi Challenge:

RORC Caribbean 600: 

 - 21 February

St Maarten Heineken Regatta

 - 3 - 6 March

Les Voiles de Saint-Barth Richard Mille 

- 17 - 23 April      

Antigua Sailing Week

 - 30 April - 6 May

RORC Caribbean 600 PAST WINNERS: 



  • 2020 - Tilmar Hansen, Outsider, TP52 (GER)
  • 2019 - David and Peter Askew, Wizard, Volvo 70 (USA)
  • 2018 - George David, Rambler 88, Maxi (USA)
  • 2017 - Hap Fauth, Bella Mente, JV72 (USA)
  • 2016 - George Sakellaris, Maxi 72, Proteus (USA)
  • 2015 - Hap Fauth, JV72, Bella Mente (USA)
  • 2014 - George Sakellaris, RP72, Shockwave (USA)
  • 2013 - Ron O'Hanley, Privateer, Cookson 50 (USA) 
  • 2012 - Niklas Zennström's JV72, Rán (GBR)
  • 2011 - George David, Rambler 100, JK 100 (USA) 
  • 2010 - Karl C L Kwok, Beau Geste, Farr 80 (HKG)
  • 2009 - Adrian Lee, Lee Overlay Partners, Cookson 50 (IRL) 


Multihull record (2019): Giovanni Soldini, Maserati, Multi 70 (ITA) - 30 hours, 49 minutes, 00 seconds

(I day 6 hrs 49 mins 0 secs)

Monohull record (2018): George David, Rambler 88, Maxi (USA) - 37 hours, 41 minutes, 45 seconds

(1 day 13 hrs 41 mins 45 secs)


  • RORC Caribbean 600 website:
  • The 13th edition of the RORC Caribbean 600 will start from Antigua on Monday 21st February 2022.
  • The 600nm course circumnavigates 11 Caribbean Islands starting from Fort Charlotte, English Harbour, Antigua and heads north as far as St Martin and south to Guadeloupe taking in Barbuda, Nevis, St Kitts, Saba and St Barth's


 - Race Report: James Boyd /IMA -

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