The ninth edition of the RORC Caribbean 600 started in magnificent conditions with the largest ever offshore fleet assembled in the Caribbean enjoying sparkling conditions.
George David's Rambler 88 - Click image for a larger image
A southeasterly breeze, occasionally gusting up to 15 knots and a relatively calm sea state provided conditions for the perfect start with some close battles on the water.
George David's Rambler 88 got away to a terrific start and leads the monohull fleet on the water by almost three miles on approach to Barbuda.
However, three hours into the race and after IRC time correction, George Sakellaris' Proteus is estimated to be leading overall with Hap Fauth's Bella Mente second and Rambler 88 third.
IRC Canting Keel and IRC Zero produced a thrilling start.
Lionel Pean's French Volvo 70 SFS II came charging in on port, bearing away behind the two Maxi72s to take a commanding position on the favoured left side of the course.
Meanwhile Proteus was perilously close to the line at the start and boldly sailed Bella Mente towards the cliffs.
You could hear Bella Mente calling for water from the cliff top and within less than a boat length of the rocky shoreline, Proteus tacked, leaving Bella Mente no option but to tack into their dirty air.
Proteus and Bella Mente - Click image for a larger image
It is likely that the two Maxi72s will be having a close quarters battle throughout the race.
Proteus passed Green Island just 26 seconds ahead of Bella Mente.
The two powerful yachts hoisted spinnakers, accelerating through the Caribbean swell and Proteus showed a better turn of speed opening a lead of several miles on the way to Barbuda.
Ed Fishwick's J/122 Redshift on El Ocaso nailed the pin end at the first start which saw the combined IRC Two & IRC 3 classes away clear.
Redshift on El Ocaso was leading on the water at Green Island but two hours into the race, Sailing Logic's First 40, Joanna of Cowes, skippered by James Sweetman, was estimated to be leading IRC Two after time correction.
In IRC Three, Jonty Layfield's Swan 48 Sleeper X held a two mile lead on the American Swan 48, Isbjorn and was estimated to be leading on corrected time.
Click image for a larger image
The Class40 Division are enjoying incredibly close racing.
Peter Harding's Ph-orty leads, Catherine Pourre's Eärendil and Halvard Mabire's Campagne de France are both within one mile.
The MOD70 battle for multihull line honours has already kicked off.
Lloyd Thornburg's Phaedo3 pulled away from Giovanni Soldini's Maserati at the upwind start but as the two cracked sheets at Green Island, Maserati deployed their foil and took up the lead.
Follow Sailweb on Facebook - Click here
20 February 2017 22:10 GMT