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Fast And Furious In The Aegean 600

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  • Fast And Furious In The Aegean 600

    Spectacular 15-25 knot conditions today helped get this year’s fleet of the AEGEAN 600 off to a fast and furious start to their 605-mile tour of the beautiful Aegean islands. These perfect conditions in this 4th edition of the race organized by the Hellenic Ocean Racing Club (HORC) are suitable to threaten course records in both the Monohull and Multihull divisions.

    First off the start were five multihulls being scored under the MOCRA handicap system, including two MOD 70’s – Jason Carroll’s ARGO (US) and Erik Maris’s ZOULOU (FRA) – who both are in contention to break the existing Multihull course record of 2D 5H 36M 2S set in 2022.


    It is clear already these two are in a contentious fight: ZOULOU took the initial lead to round the windward mark first, but just an hour into the race ARGO was able to catch up and then take the lead on two short gybes on the first long downwind leg towards the island of Milos. With a boatspeed average of just over 20 knots, and burst of speed over 30 knots, these boats are about 10% faster than the average record pace needed for the overall course record.

    Similarly, 50 miles into the race two of the fastest monohulls in the fleet – Byron Earhart’s Juan K 88 LUCKY (USA) and Joern Larsen’s VO 70 L4 (MLT) – are also locked in battle for the lead and are also on near-record pace. Surprisingly at this stage Stefan Jentzsch’s Botin 56 BLACK PEARL (GER) is within just a few miles of the much larger leaders on almost the same pace – an amazing feat considering they are racing with their racing spinnaker but much smaller delivery sails and no water ballast because the ship carrying their racing sails did not arrive to Greece in time.

    While these brisk conditions are helping to propel the fastest pro-level teams at near-record pace, they have also caused damage among some other teams who have been forced to retire. These include the Sun Fast 3300 MUNJEK RS (CRO), the First 47.7 SILHOA (BEL), the First 456 TRINITY (AUT), and the Carkeek 47 OPTIMUM S SAMOS STEAMSHIP with no injuries reported on any team.

    By the end of daylight today the fastest teams will have transited the first gate on the course at the caldera of Santorini, an iconic backdrop for this race. Tonight there will be a steady parade of running lights making this transit throughout the night, under a cloud of lights from the town situated on the cliffs above the caldera. It will be a spectacular sight.

    The Meltemi wind is expected to continue at its current strength through tonight and tomorrow for most of the fleet on the first half of the course, then shift towards the west and increase on the approaches to the southernmost extent of the race course at Kassos to 25-30 knots and possibly more.

    “This is an impressive and challenging race included in the 2024 IMA Maxi Offshore Challenge Trophy,” said Rob Weiland, the technical and rules expert for the International Maxi Association (IMA). “This trophy will be awarded to the team with the best score from 3 of 7 races in the series, and this is Race 6 in the 2023-24 season.”

    Since yesterday’s spectacular start at Cape Sounio under the Ancient Temple of Poseidon, the brisk Meltemi winds have persisted through last night and today to give the fleet in this year’s AEGEAN 600 a great ride around the 605-mile race course. In just 30 hours more than half the fleet has rounded the southernmost point in the Cyclades at the island of Kasos, and will be reaching at high-speed towards the next major turn at Rhodes, which is at about the halfway point of the race.

    AEGEAN 600 2024: Will a course record get shattered tonight in the AEGEAN 600?

    In fact the ride has been so fast that race organizers from the Hellenic Offshore Racing Club (HORC) will likely have to prepare a finish line at Cape Sounio tonight for the two fastest boats in the fleet – two MOD 70 trimarans that have been having a high-speed duel with each around the race course. Jason Carroll’s ARGO (US) and Erik Maris’s ZOULOU (FRA) have just over 100 miles to go in the final three legs of the 13-leg course, and at current speeds may cross the finish line at about 02:00 local time, just 36 hours from their start yesterday.

    If this pace holds for them they will have shattered not only the Multihull record time of 53.5 hours set in 2022 but the outright overall record time of 45 hours set last year.

    The fastest monohull – Byron Ehrhardt’s Juan K 88 LUCKY (USA) – is also on an impressive sprint around the race course, with Joern Larsen’s VO 70 L4 (MLT) not far behind. Their projected finishes tomorrow morning may also be close to being record times as well.


    AEGEAN 600 2024: Will a course record get shattered tonight in the AEGEAN 600?

    Meanwhile the rest of the fleet are also enjoying outstanding sailing, even managing to keep pace through the lee at Rhodes without too many problems so far. In corrected time standings Didier Gaudaux’s MN 35 LANN AEL 3 (FRA) is leading IRC 3 and IRC overall, just ahead of Stefan Jentzsch’s Botin 56 IRC 1 entry BLACK PEARL (GER).

    In the ORC fleet Linda Goddard’s Swan 53 ORC 2 entry BEDOUIN (AUS) leads Sascha Schroder’s Neo 430 ORC 1 entry NEOMIND (GER) in overall ORC scoring, and among the Maxis Francesco Valla’s Myles 60 CK CIPPA LIPPA X (ITA) currently has the lead. In the Double Handed fleet there are two leaders: Miraslaw Zemke’s Dehler 41 HOBART (POL) in ORC scoring and Alexander Trilsbach’s Class 40 STELLA NOVA (FRA) in IRC scoring.

    These standings will likely shift as the teams traverse the second half of the race course where the high-speed reaching and running will change now to upwind and close-reaching legs, as well as a forecasted diminishing of the full-strength Meltemi starting on Thursday.

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