Sunday, 20 February 2011
ICAP Leopard and Blue Pearl. Image copyright Tim Wright.
by David Fraser
At 1100 (local time) on 21st February, ICAP Leopard, the record breaking 100ft super-maxi racing yacht owned by Helical Bar PLC chief executive Mike Slade, will cross the start line of the Royal Ocean Racing Club’s (RORC) Caribbean 600 race at English Harbour in Antigua. Having set the, as-yet, unbeaten course record of 44 hours and 5 minutes in the 2009 inaugural race, the team are working to prepare the boat for the multitude of challenges that the race presents. The 605 mile course will see ICAP Leopard weave its way through the 14 islands of the central Caribbean.
Slade will be joined by co-skipper Clarke Murphy from New York. Together they will lead a crew of vastly experienced offshore talent, including top Volvo Ocean Race sailor and former Green Dragon Bowman Freddie Shanks (GBR), Volvo Ocean Race and Ericsson 4 sailor Guy Salter (GBR) on the bow and former Puma Ocean Racing Watch leader, Rob Greenhalgh (GBR) as Tactician. Other notable members of the crew include former GBR America’s Cup sailor Ian Budgen and veteran navigator Hugh Agnew.
ICAP Leopard crew. Image copyright Tim Wright.
Speaking about the conditions expected during the race, Tactician Rob Greenhalgh said: “The weather is quite changeable at the moment. The Caribbean has been experiencing an intensely dry season for the last few months and we have recently been experiencing severe squalls. These squalls produce intense rain combined with strong winds which, if used advantageously, will really boost our chances of beating our previous record.”
“The RORC Caribbean 600 is both physically and mentally challenging for all taking part” said skipper Mike Slade. “Weaving between the islands, we face varied winds and muddled seas which add to the excitement and challenge of the race. These testing conditions, coupled with the stunning scenery and beautiful weather, make this race one of my favorites in recent years. This year we face some stiff competition from other boats in the super-maxi class and the crew will have to be on top form, working speedily and precisely, to gain and maintain the lead. Fast and steady will win this race.”
RORC Caribbean 600