Less than 100 days for the 2024 AEGEAN 600

It is now less than 100 days to the 7 July start of the 2024 AEGEAN 600, the annual offshore race organized by the Hellenic Offshore Racing Club in conjunction with Olympic Marine.

This spectacular 605-mile race starts at Cape Sounion under the watchful gaze of the ancient Temple of Poseidon for a scenic tour of 23 islands of the Aegean archipelago before finishing back at Cape Sounion. Among the offshore racing world’s classic 600-mile races, this is the newest, with the first edition held in 2021. Since then the event’s popularity has grown every year, with already 56 monohull and multihull entries from 18 nations planning to participate in this year’s 4th edition, a figure that is on its way to a new record turnout with the entry deadline still a month away on 30 April.

These entries represent a large cross-section of the offshore sailing world, ranging in size from Jerry Petratos and Evi Delidou’s double-handed Dehler 30 AETHER to George Procopiou’s Volvo Open 70, ex-I LOVE POLAND, last year’s runner-up elapsed time champion. Teams also range from amateur crews racing for fun to all-pro squads in search of elapsed time course records and corrected time victories in IRC and/or ORC scoring.

In this latter category are two successful international teams making their AEGEAN 600 debut: Austrian Stefan Jentzsch’s Botin water-ballasted Botin 56 BLACK PEARL and American Jason Carroll’s MOD 70 trimaran ARGO. Both have proven track records and highly-experienced crews that are regular competitors in the world’s most competitive ocean races.

The AEGEAN 600 course with its multiple legs of the course and wide variety of wind and sea conditions presents a significant test of offshore sailing skill in seamanship, navigation and strategy. “The challenge of this course is precisely why we are coming,” said ARGO project manager Chad Corning. “That and we have heard this is a fantastic race, a very cool course and a must-do on the global circuit.” With their VPLP-designed MOD 70 updated from its class trim to now having large foils and T-rudders for even more speed, Corning reckons the Multihull course record of 2 days 5 hours 36 min 02 sec set in 2022 by Adrian Keller’s ALLEGRA from Switzerland is within easy reach, as might be the outright course record of 1 day 21 hours 5 min 25 sec set last year by Joost Schuijff’s Farr 100 LEOPARD 3 from Monaco.

“LEOPARD’s course record average speed was about 13.5 knots,” he said, “and our average speed in the Caribbean 600 last month was almost 24 knots.” The ARGO team was first-to-finish in that race, but at the finish was only 19 minutes ahead of Erik Maris’s sistership MOD 70 ZOULOU from France. ZOULOU and the third-placed multihull finisher, Alexia Barrier’s LIMOSA, are rumored to also be entering this year’s AEGEAN 600. If so this will be another competitive MOD 70 offshore shootout.

The International Maxi Association (IMA) has this year created the 2024 Mediterranean Maxi Multihull Challenge with the AEGEAN 600 named as its first event on the tour. An important innovation in this year’s 4th edition will be the use of ORC Weather Routing Scoring (WRS). This innovative approach to handicapping the wide range of boat types in this race who are competing for corrected time honors will use each boat’s polar performance data and the latest weather forecast prior to the start to determine a predicted elapsed time for each boat, from which ratings are then determined.

In this way if the wind is predicted to diminish after the fast boats finish, as it did last year, then the slower boats may still have a chance to win because they are being scored relative to the wind conditions predicted in the forecast. Conversely, if the slower boats encounter more wind later in the race this will be accounted for as well. The concept reduces the luck factor that is all too common in the results of offshore races by presenting a more even playing field for participants. The AEGEAN 600 will be the world’s first offshore race of this length scored with ORC to use this bold new technique. WRS is just one of many innovations and support features of this year’s 4th edition of the race.

Another is the outstanding facilities at Olympic Marine that support this fleet, including a newly-opened large dock suitable for several Maxi-sized entries. As part of their registration fee, all entries are offered free berthing at Olympic Marine from 30 June to 15 July. Over this period there are other activities that are part of the event, such as a Safety training seminar held on Thursday 4 July, a Warm-up Race, Skippers Meeting and Welcome Ceremony held on Friday 5 July, a touring trip to see the ancient Temple of Poseidon on Saturday 6 July, then the race start at Cape Sounion on Sunday 7 July. A gala Prizegiving Ceremony will be held after the race on Saturday 13 July.

“We’re so excited to once again see the interest and participation grow for this race,” said Ioannis Maragkoudakis, Commodore of the HORC and President of the AEGEAN 600 Organizing Committee. “As offshore sailors we designed this race for other offshore sailors who can appreciate the unique challenges of this race course. It rewards all who are well-prepared before the race, well-sailed during the race and regardless of the results will have enjoyed sailing in this beautiful tour of our Aegean Sea.”

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