Testing the RM 60-01 watch at a regatta

Boat International sends Simon de Burton to test the Richard Mille RM 60-01 on Sorcha - the sailing yacht sponsored by the fine Swiss watchmaker

The stitches have come out of my finger now, the cuts on my wife’s knees and face have more or less healed and our aching limbs are but distant memories. Mind you, no one said it was going to be paradise, travelling to the Caribbean to join the decidedly competent crew aboard the TP52 race boat Sorcha as she battled it out in Les Voiles de St Barth regatta. And the injuries were entirely our fault. Mine was a result of a post-race stumble that sent the third digit of my left hand neatly between the pulleys of the main sheet block just as a burly Kiwi was dropping the sail; Mrs de B’s came from a couple of ill-timed, cross-deck scrambles during some high-speed tacking manoeuvres.

But despite the blood and pain (if you’re going to hurt yourself on a boat, by the way, do it near St Barts – the “cottage” hospital is brilliant) we wouldn’t have missed serving as speed-enhancing ballast aboard that screaming Formula One racer of the oceans.

Providing all that power was 260 square metres of spinnaker – the supercharged V12 of sailing. When full of wind, it gave one enormous clue as to the identity of my host, thanks to its £15,000, hand-applied image of the Richard Mille RM 60-01 regatta watch. The somewhat maverick horologist after whom the firm is named openly admits that he would rather be behind the wheel of any one of his impressive stable of historic racing cars than be at the helm of even the most magnificent of boats. 

But his business partner Peter Harrison, who heads up the Europe, Middle East and Africa arm of the business, is a mad keen sailor and it is through him that the brand has come to be recognised as the main sponsor of both Les Voiles de Saint Barth and the equally glamorous Les Voiles de Saint-Tropez regattas.

Harrison has raced in every Voiles de St Barth since the company became the title sponsor in 2010, previously competing in Jolt 2, a good-looking, quick yet not especially competitive Baltic 45. But he decided to get serious last November and spent $750,000 on Sorcha, a pure thoroughbred race boat that requires only the lightest of winds to provide thrill-a-minute sailing.

And where better to promote his firm’s regatta watch than in front of some of the world’s wealthiest sailors? If you’ve spent millions on your boat, £100,000 or so for a sailing-inspired, titanium-cased watch with two time zones, regatta countdown timer and flyback chronograph, represents a nice trinket to wear on board.

And, having been loaned one of them by Harrison while aboard Sorcha for two days of non-stop action in those big Caribbean seas, I can report that it’s more than fit for purpose and tough enough to have escaped without a single scratch. Unlike the duffer who was wearing it.

Richard Mille Rm 60-01 Les Voiles de St Barth. Limited to 50 examples, from £100,000, richardmille.com

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