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FIRST EVER DOUBLEHANDED WINNER OF ROLEX FASTNET RACE
History has been made at the Rolex Fastnet Race. Pascal and Alexis Loison’s JPK 1010 Night And Day from France has won the 2013 edition and is the first doublehanded crew ever to do so. A remarkable, near unthinkable achievement, which sets a new milestone for the mythical 88-year old race.
Arriving in Plymouth at 07:19 BST Thursday morning after four long nights at sea, Night And Day enjoyed a blistering return leg from the Fastnet Rock. In the process the dynamic duo overhauled the corrected times posted by the crews arriving ahead of them and left no room to overtake for those still on the course. Victory represents a historic feat for the father and son from Cherbourg whose unforeseen triumph is a pure demonstration of teamwork, determination and preparation.
“Nobody said this was impossible to achieve,” reflected Pascal. “It’s extraordinary, like a dream. I am very happy to have won this race with my son. There are so many factors required to make it happen. We simply hoped to win the two-handed class. This is superb.”
“(The Rolex Fastnet) is one of the most prestigious races in the world, with some of the most refined boats there are,” said Alexis, a professional sailor and regular single-handed Figaro competitor. “We competed against over 300 boats, many professional with big crews. Our preparation was really good.”
Victory crowns an already successful season for the two who have only owned the boat since February. “This is our second Rolex Fastnet together,” explained Pascal. “We know the English Channel very well having done a lot of races here. The racecourse is very complicated and fascinating. There is always something to think about at each point, turn, bay.”
Night and Day’s closest rival on the water was fellow French JPK 1010 Foggy Dew which crossed the finish line in Plymouth seven minutes later. “We found ourselves in a battle with them for first place,” reflected Alexis. “They are guys we know well, our friends, who are very experienced and a worthy rival.”
Offshore yacht racing is gruelling; a mental and physical challenge even for the crews with the most resources. Double-handed sailing is even tougher. Alexis revealed a simple strategy for conquering the inevitable fatigue: “During moments the boat was going well, we would take it in turns to rest. There is no rigorous organization (or watch system).” Confidence in their approach is natural: “It comes from sailing together for a long time.”
The pair’s only regret is that they did not experience a dramatic view of the Fastnet Rock. “Every time we pass the Fastnet it’s foggy,” joked Alexis. “I’m not sure if it really exists!” “It was raining with 300m of visibility,” added Pascal. “We only saw the beam of the lighthouse. There were boats everywhere, stunning. It wasn’t a great advert for Ireland but a wonderful, quite surreal memory.”
Night And Day’s victory heralds a dominant performance by the over 50-strong French boats in this year’s Rolex Fastnet Race. The top five boats and twelve of the current top 15 finishers on corrected time are from across the Channel.
This is a victory that fully captures the spirit and ethos of the Rolex Fastnet Race. “The most important thing is that the race can be won by anyone,” said the Royal Ocean Racing Club CEO Eddie Warden Owen. “Everyone thinks the professional, big boats are going to have an advantage but the 2013 race has just proved what the appeal of the Rolex Fastnet is all about. They are all here because they know they have a chance of winning.”
By 17:40 BST, 244 of the 336-strong international fleet had crossed the finish line in Plymouth. All remaining yachts have rounded the Fastnet Rock, including the last placed Duet and the 100 year-old former winner, Jolie Brise. There have been ten retirements.