Hetairos, the 214-foot superyacht skippered by Vincent Fauquenoy, was first to finish the Royal Ocean Racing Club’s Caribbean 600 in Antigua in an elapsed time of 2 days 2 hours 39 minutes and 32 seconds. But this was well outside the record set by Rambler 100 last year, which capsized in the Fastnet Race last August.
Said South African navigator Marc Lagesse: "I have to say, I am genuinely surprised that we were the first yacht home. I honestly thought that we wouldn't take line honours before the race. Hetairos and especially her sails are not optimized for racing on a course like the '600.”
Hetairos was pushed hard all the way by George David's 90ft maxi, Rambler. It was not until half way through the race that Hetairos managed to pass Rambler. The all star American team put in a fantastic performance but could not match the pace of an opponent over twice their size.
George David spoke candidly shortly after the race:
"It was great to get back in the saddle for a 600-mile race after the Fastnet, and to hold out so long on that course against Hetairos required a magnificent effort.”
Niklas Zennstrom's JV72, Rán was the next yacht home, less than an hour behind Rambler to claim the overall lead after time handicap correction.
Rán's owner and principle helmsman, Niklas Zennstrom, said: "The whole of Team Rán has been looking forward to this race for a while. We have wanted to do this race since 2009. A few of the crew have done the race before, Jeremy Robinson on Leopard for example and he was able to give a lot of input before the race. But Ado (Stead) and Steve (Hayles) have not competed in the '600 before, so it has been somewhat new territory for us."
The overall leader in the Volvo round the world race, Spain’s Telefonica, has so far managed to go from first to last on the fourth leg from Sanya in China. The boat which carries that name has gone from third to sixth to third and the lead has also been held by both the second Spanish boat, Camper, and, early on Thursday, the French entry Groupama.
The snakes and ladders of exiting the South China Sea and hoping for solid breezes to carry the six boats – the other is the American-flagged Puma – to Auckland has also seen the fleet slip to two days behind a scheduled arrival on 8 March.
But there are hopes of an increase in pace, though predicting the winner is far from easy with 4,500 miles to go.