With a 18-22 knot Meltemi wind blowing from the north generating white-capped seas under bright blue skies, race managers from the Hellenic Offshore Racing Club (HORC) got the fleet off to a fast start yesterday in the 2nd edition of the AEGEAN 600. The conditions were a truly perfect example of Aegean sailing, with the race starting with a short 1.5-mile upwind leg to an inflatable mark positioned just under the ancient Temple of Poseidon, where spectators enjoyed a fabulous view of the boats and the race course area.
First to start were the five entries in the Multihull Class, with Robert Szustkowski’s HH66 catamaran R-SIX (POL) fighting for the lead with Adrian Keller’s larger custom catamaran ALLEGRA (SUI). R-SIX tacked away early from the left side of the course in search for more consistent pressure to the right, found it, and crossed ALLEGRA to take the lead around the mark.
Both of these big cats set their huge white and red gennakers to start speeding down the course at boat speeds in the teens. Next multihull around the mark was the ORMA 60 trimaran AKRON AOTON (GRE) skippered by Ioannas Barkas, who accelerated even faster in a cloud of spray even while throttled back a bit with their reefed mainsail.
At 20:00 local time on Sunday, ALLEGRA held an impressive lead on the fleet, having sailed 90 miles in 6 hours and is headed to Santorini at 17 knots while close to being overtaken by AKRON AOTON who is slightly faster at 18 knots of boat speed.
Ten minutes after the first start the entire monohull fleet started on a long start line, with Jean-Philippe Blancpain’s (ITA) Vismara Mills 62 LEAPS AND BOUNDS 2 (ITA) taking the early lead being first around the top mark with Gregor Stimpfl’s (ITA) Scuderia 65 HAGAR V chasing close astern before they too set spinnakers for the long port tack downwind leg to Milos.
One after another, the remaining entries in the ORC, IRC and Double Handed classes rounded the top mark, bore away to a broad reach, set their spinnakers and headed southeast towards Milos, the first island mark of the course, in picturesque white-capped blue seas. Yesterday was spectacular Aegean sailing at its very best.
Besides ALLEGRA, other early class leaders in corrected time include PNEUMA (POL), a JPK 10.3 being raced by Andrzej Rozycki and Adam Skomski in the Double Handed class, Philipp Kadelbach’s Eliott 52 RAFALE (GER) in the ORC and IRC classes, and LEAPS AND BOUNDS 2 in the Maxi Class.
One entry continued to sail upwind on port tack past the mark without bearing off down the course. Periklis Livas and Nikos Lavos’s Carkeek 47 OPTIMUM S – SAMOS STEAMSHIP (GRE) had suffered a technical issue that prompted them to retire from the race and they headed back to the marina at Olympic Marine. There were no injuries nor damage sustained by the team or the boat. A crew member explained that this high-tech carbon race boat was recently acquired by the team just a few months ago and they are still learning this boat and its systems.
They expect to make repairs in the coming months in preparation for the next 600-mile race on the 2022 offshore calendar, the Rolex Middle Sea race in Malta in October.
This is unfortunate because the remaining fleet on the course will enjoy a beautiful first night of racing, with the northerly Meltemi moderating to 8-12 knots, shifting to the northwest, then shifting again to the north and increasing again at dawn back to 15-20 knots. Once around Milos on the next leg to Santorini the fast boats may be at tighter reaching angles and sailing with headsails while the slower boats may be able to carry spinnakers.
Regardless it will be a beautiful evening of sailing under a clear moonlit sky and they should make great progress in the first 24 hours of this race.
For more information on the AEGEAN 600, visit https://aegean600.com.
Text Credits: Dobbs Davis
Photo Credits: HORC / George Alevromytis