In the early hours of the fifth day of the RORC Caribbean 600, a fantastic battle came to a dramatic conclusion – in the 18-strong IRC 1 fleet, two yachts rose above the rest to fight for the class win, but a final twist was still to come.
Giles Redpath's Lombard 46 Pata Negra (GBR) and Philippe Frantz's NMD43 Albator (FRA) had been locked in a duel for 400 miles. Pata Negra, with a lower IRC rating, had held the advantage for much of the race. However, having rounded Guadeloupe, Albator pulled ahead on the reach to Barbuda.
An extra turn of speed put the French team just seconds ahead of Pata Negra after time correction.
The last leg, a gruelling 35 nautical mile beat to the finish, looked to be decisive. Like two boxers going into the final round, they gave their all, with Albator seemingly taking the win by a narrow margin.
However, Pata Negra protested Albator for unintentionally entering an exclusion zone at Terre de Bas, resulting in Albator placing third and Pata Negra provisionally winning the class. The two crews remain friends, sharing breakfast together after the ruling.
Scarlet Oyster finished the race just after midday on the fifth day to provisionally win IRC 2. This would be the sixth class win for the boat, and the seventh for skipper Ross Applebey.
In IRC 3, Peter McWhinnie's JPK 10.80, In Theory (USA), is the first boat to cross the line, having provisionally won IRC 3.
At 1100 local time (1500 GMT), 29 boats are still racing in the RORC Caribbean 600. With the prize giving tonight, the RORC race team is hoping that the rest of the fleet will return to Antigua before the big celebration at the Antigua Yacht Club.