George Sakellaris’ R/P 72 Shockwave took the overall IRC win in this year’s Caribbean 600, correcting out to finish roughly 1 hour ahead of rival Bella Mente. After 600 miles of racing, Bella Mente, Rambler 90 and Shockwave crossed the line within 15 minutes of each other, after close racing all along that saw numerous lead changes. The win adds to Shockwave’s growing list of recent victories, highlighted by her Gibbs Hill Lighthouse Division win in the 2012 Newport-Bermuda Race and first in the 2013 Montego Bay Race. The overall IRC win was the highlight of a number of impressive finishes for Doyle-powered boats, with Line Honors for Bella Mente – carrying some specialty reaching sails from Doyle and featuring Doyle’s own Mike Sanderson as a helmsman, Botin 65 Caro, with a full Doyle Stratis inventory taking 5th overall in IRC, First 40 Lancelot II winning IRC Two with a new Doyle Stratis Mainsail, and the 62m Hoek Schooner Athos greatly improving on last years performance and battling it out with longtime superyacht rival Adela.
A grueling 600 mile race circling around many islands, with stiff breeze the whole time, the race places a premium on having a well prepared boat and crew. In anticipation of this year’s race, Doyle refined the sail inventory to make sure that the team would have the right sails, without carrying too many. Robbie Doyle, who in addition to managing the sail inventory served as Shockwave’s tactician for this race, explains the thought process, “We looked at the conditions that we were likely to see, and then when designing and building the sails worked to make sure that their ranges were as large as possible. Thankfully our Stratis process allows us to make some of the lightest sails available, so we increased the DPI’s a bit to ensure we could carry the same sails longer.”
“With the amount that conditions change in this race, sail changes can just be too costly. In the end, we used the J2 (Medium Jib) 95% of the time, and just twisted it off a bit in the bigger squalls. We only carried 3 jibs, which helped save weight.” Flying the same jib up the majority of the race allows the crew to stay aft and on the rail, keeping the boat moving. The other big change was adding a new Fractional Code 0. “After last year’s Montego Bay Race, we looked at our sail inventory and felt that the jump from the Jib Top to the Code 0 was too big. We built a new FRO to fill that gap. It was the workhorse of the race, as coupled with the Top Down Furler, we could leave it up, and just furl or unfurl as the conditions changed without any drama on the foredeck.”
Owner George Sakellaris was pleased with the results. “I have a great crew and it was an excellent race, lots of wind and the racing was very close. I have done many offshore races but this is the first time I have raced this one and it was against tough opposition. I think the winds were favorable to us and the Shockwave team used that to our advantage. At the end of the day, winning yacht races is all about the team performance more than anything else.
Robbie Doyle was similarly enthusiastic after the race. “That is what ocean racing should be all about. Beautiful racing between three very tough competitors, all fighting it out the whole way. A heavy-weight battle without a doubt – no question. I have had great moments in sail boats, but that was as much fun as I can remember. For 600 miles we were always in touch with each other, either up a few minutes or down a few minutes, and it all came down to the last beat to finish. It was like an epic tennis match.”
Next up for Team Shockwave will be defending her Newport-Bermuda Race victory in June.
Gallery: Doyle Sails in the 2014 Caribbean 600