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  1. Peter Gustafsson
    Aug 10, 2009 @ 12:58


    August 10, 2009

    Overnight conditions in the Rolex Fastnet Race have ranged from tricky to impossible. While this morning at the 0600 update, Mike Slade’s ICAP Leopard was approaching Lizard Point, the bulk of the 300 strong fleet is now past Portland Bill, the headland to seaward of the 2012 Olympic sailing venue, and were halfway across Lyme Bay bound for the next significant headland, Start Point.

    For Slade’s mighty 100ft long supermaxi, the night has been one of mixed fortunes, her speed ranging from relative standstill – 4 knots against the tide midway across Lyme Bay at 2300 – to considerable pace, 26.5 knots at 0500. She is way behind her record pace from 2007 when in the early hours of the first morning she was already around Land’s End, halfway across the Celtic Sea to the Fastnet Rock.

    The IMOCA 60s have been doing a good job to stay in contact with ICAP Leopard and this morning the two female skippers hold the top spots – Dee Caffari on Aviva, and Sam Davies and Sidney Gavignet on Artemis Ocean Racing – with Aviva 18 miles astern of the supermaxi. From on board Artemis Ocean Racing, Sam Davies reported conditions as being grey and murky. “Artemis is crashing along upwind on port tack, I have just come off watch and Sidney and Gareth are on deck, trimming and driving. We can see four other boats off our leeward quarter, but the visibility is not too good.”

    For the bulk of the fleet astern, last night they faced a classic Rolex Fastnet Race situation with a mighty eastbound current between Portland Bill and St Albans Head combined with insufficient breeze to make headway against it. The majority spent the evening at best at standstill while another group led by Cracklin’ Rosie, Roark and Jackdaw attempted to break south, only to be washed southeast with the help of the tide.

    By the early hours of this morning, the tide had turned favourable but there were distinct winners and losers from the overnight waterborne game of snakes and ladders. In IRC Zero A for example, La Floresta del Mar and Sjambok had managed to sneak past Portland Bill and were away while Fraxious and Flicka IV, who had turned south early, had dropped back to 25 miles astern, no closer to the finish than they had been six hours earlier.

    The progress of the fleet can be followed by the tracking system fitted to all of the boats racing at


  2. Peter Gustafsson
    Aug 10, 2009 @ 20:37


    August 10, 2009

    After a tricky first night at sea, the mid-fleet in the Rolex Fastnet Race have experienced a rainy grey day at sea as they slog upwind westward along the English south coast.

    As expected the big boats have broken away with Mike Slade’s 100-foot supermaxi ICAP Leopard, rounding Land’s End at around 0930 GMT and by 1500 she was halfway to the Fastnet Rock turning mark.

    “It is a nice sunny day outside here, it could be a lot worse,” commented Slade, adding that the sea was flattening out after a bumpy ride up the Channel. Since rounding Lands End, with the wind from the west, ICAP Leopard, as well as the boats chasing her, have headed on a more northerly course, compared to the direct route to the Fastnet Rock.

    As Volvo Ocean Race navigator Simon Fisher explained from on board Team Pindar, third placed in the Open 60 fleet and 41 miles from Slade’s race leader: “Big picture, the wind is going to come around to the northwest eventually. So we are off to the right in the hope that we have a nice shift, while trying to get into the best position relative to the other boats around us, in order to make the most of that.” The question for the boats presently mid-Celtic Sea is when the wind will veer from the west to the northwest and if they can lay the Rock in one tack when this shift comes.

    At 1500 GMT, ICAP Leopard was just 25 miles ahead of Karl Kwok’s Farr 80 Beau Geste and 34 miles ahead of Niklas Zennstrom’s Judel-Vrolijk 72, Ran 2.

    “We expect the breeze to come down a little bit, particularly once we have rounding the rock and are heading back. So, we have to be careful we don’t fall in a hole,” Slade continued. “But the boat is loving this bouncy stuff. We are going at 11.75-12 knots doing about 42deg TWA, and we are enjoying ourselves. I am looking forward to a beer in Plymouth, but I will have to wait a day and a half I have the feeling!” To date the most wind ICAP Leopard has seen is 22 knots.

    Despite her length advantage, even ICAP Leopard experienced a hard time last night as she negotiated the English Channel. “The hardest part was the sloppy seas and light air in Lyme Bay, and trying to avoid being sucked up north at Start Point or into Plymouth Bay, and trying to get down around the Lizard. Ray Davies and Hugh Agnew have done a great job and have kept us out of trouble,” said Slade. ICAP Leopard’s ETA at the Fastnet Rock is expected to be 0100GMT.

    Slade believes that this year the Rolex Fastnet Race will favour the small boats as was the case in 2005. “The breeze is going to fill in behind us once we are round the Rock. It looks like it will fill in for the next day and half to two days and it will bring the small boats in on handicap.”

    Behind, the leading Open 60s are doing well to stay in contact with the larger Mini Maxis. Sam Davies and Sidney Gavignet on board Artemis Ocean Racing continue to lead, but with less than four miles separating her from Marc Guillemot’s Safran and Pindar. Their ETA at the Fastnet Rock is around 0500-0600 GMT tomorrow morning. Some such as Alex Thomson’s Hugo Boss have not been so fortunate – Thomson’s black boat some 47 miles behind the leaders at 1600.

    The Open 60s also suffered last night. “It was very light and very shifty with the pressure coming from here and there, it was a question of trying to position ourselves in the best place to take advantage of all the puffs and shifts,” said Simon Fisher. “It was very tricky and hard for us as well because we are in one of the most powerful boats, but that is part of the package.” Pindar was never completely becalmed, but there were some slow moments and their competitors who went inshore, suffered horribly.

    Among the smaller Class 40s, last night was make or break according to how rapidly you could overcome the foul tide. When the wind shut down Initiatives Saveurs-Novedia Group was one of a mass of boats that were forced to deploy their anchor to prevent themselves behind sluiced east back up the course by the tide.

    “Just before Portland Bill, we had to anchor in 45m of depth, but only for half an hour – the wind kicked in again, so it was not too bad,” recounted French skipper Tanguy de LaMotte. De LaMotte reckons it was a lot worse for others. “The guys who were inshore had really big trouble to get wind and they had to wait for longer. So I think that is where we got up front.” At 1600 off Falmouth, Initiatives Saveurs-Novedia Group was third among the Class 40s, with German Boris Herrmann’s new Beluga Racer neck and neck for the lead with Conquerants de Normandie – Bovis Lend Lease Italy.

    De LaMotte says the most wind they have seen has been 20 knots and it has been constantly upwind, not particularly taxing and okay for getting sleep.

    Typically the larger boats were affected less last night off Portland Bill. From the US, Bryon Ehrhart’s TP52 Lucky, took the option to head offshore out of the worst of the current, but suffered more longer term. “We weren’t sure where our competition was,” said skipper Rodney Hagebols, adding that thanks to their offshore tactics, they didn’t have to anchor. “Today was the first boat that we have seen, an OD48. All the other boats were inshore and we went for the new breeze.”

    At the end of this afternoon Lucky had rounded the Lizard but was well behind Nigel Passmore’s TP52 Apollo, but ahead of the other TP52s John Merricks II and Cutting Edge.

    Under handicap, Niklas Zennstrom’s Ran 2 was leading IRC SZ, while Jamie Olazabal’s Spanish Swan 56 La Floresta del Mar was just past the Lizard at the front of Class IRC Z. Half way between Start Point and the Lizard, Cyrille Legloahec’s A40RC Batistyl was leading IRC 1 with Didier Dardot’s Sphinx 33 Parsifal ahead in IRC 2, just past Plymouth, and just south of the IRC 3 handicap leader, Bateaux Mouches du Pont de l’Alma, the X-332 of France’s Fabrice Amedeo.

    The forecast shows the wind veering to the northwest across the race course tonight and continuing to veer north and lighten by tomorrow morning.

    The progress of the fleet can be followed by the tracking system fitted to all of the boats racing at


  3. Peter Gustafsson
    Aug 11, 2009 @ 12:35


    August 11, 2009

    At 00:26 GMT this morning Mike Slade’s 100ft supermaxi ICAP Leopard was the first boat in the 2009 Rolex Fastnet Race to round the Fastnet Rock off the coast of southwestern Ireland. In a 10-15 knot westerly breeze, Karl Kwok’s Farr 80 Beau Geste passed at approximately 04:44 GMT, followed by the IRC Class SZ leader on handicap, Niklas Zennström’s Judel-Vrolijk 72 Ran 2 at 05:08 GMT. Behind them were a gaggle of boats led by the first two IMOCA 60s, Sam Davies and Sidney Gavignet on the fully-crewed Artemis Ocean Racing, ten minutes ahead of Seb Josse’s BT IMOCA 60, the first doublehanded entry in the Rolex Fastnet Race.

    Behind them at 08:00 GMT, en route to the Pantaenius buoy, the offset mark southwest of the Fastnet lighthouse, were two more IMOCA 60s, Volvo Ocean Race winner Mike Sanderson on Pindar, just ahead of Frenchman Marc Guillemot on Safran. The Italian America’s Cup team on the STP65 Luna Rossa rounded later, at 07:54 GMT, having suffered slightly by approaching the Fastnet Rock from a more northerly angle.

    At the time, the Italians had Dee Caffari’s IMOCA 60 Aviva on their tail. Earlier Caffari reported: “We had more breeze than we anticipated overnight which means we will be rounding the Fastnet Rock just in time for breakfast. We have sight of at least four other IMOCA 60s showing just how close this race is.” Roger Sturgeon’s US entry, the STP65 Rosebud/Team DYT was expected at the Fastnet Rock an hour after Aviva.

    The forecast is showing an area of high pressure encroaching on the southwest of the British Isles over the course of today. In order to remain in the strongest breeze, ICAP Leopard has taken a radical northerly route towards Bishops Rock, the next mark of the course, located to the west of the Scilly Isles, 150 miles southeast of the Fastnet. While Slade’s super-maxi is on a heading taking her towards the Bristol Channel, Beau Geste and Ran 2 are sticking closer to the rhumb line. With conflicting forecasts it remains to be seen which will be the better tactic – Slade’s approach is longer but should ensure they stay in breeze, the direct route is more risky, but shorter.

    This morning the bulk of the Rolex Fastnet Race fleet are between the Lizard and one third of the way across the Celtic Sea towards the Fastnet Rock. Midway to the Rock, the Jamie Olazabal-skippered Swan 56 La Floresta Del Mar is still leading in Class IRC Z, while the three small IRC Classes all have French handicap leaders: the Grand Soleil 43 Codiam in IRC 1, while Didier Darbot’s Sphinx 33 Parsifal still leads IRC 2 and is located just to the north of the Scilly Isles, just ahead of Fabrice Tropes’s Dufour 34, Major Tom, the new IRC 3 leader.

    Depending upon her progress today, ICAP Leopard is expected in Plymouth late this evening.

    The progress of the fleet can be followed by the tracking system fitted to all of the boats racing at


  4. Peter Gustafsson
    Aug 11, 2009 @ 20:08


    August 11, 2009

    The ‘when will they arrive?’ lottery has begun this afternoon in sunny Sutton Harbour, the new arrival point for the Rolex Fastnet Race in Plymouth.

    While a line honours victory for Mike Slade’s 100ft super-maxi ICAP Leopard might seem obvious, the brand new Hong Kong 80-footer Beau Geste of Karl Kwok is closing on them. At 03:00 GMT this morning they were 35 miles behind and by 14:00GMT were only 24 miles astern. Over the course of the late morning and early afternoon the smaller boat was occasionally sailing three knots faster down the course.

    The reason, according to round the world race veteran, Steve Hayles, navigator on Niklas Zennström’s Ran 2, is that the boats astern of ICAP Leopard have enjoyed stronger wind from the northwest. “This breeze built from behind, it came down from the Fastnet Rock, so it has been a bad bit of timing for them. It was just unfortunate. We have more headed breeze and more of it. But to be honest we are suffering the same thing with the two STP65s behind us. We feel pretty happy with what we have done. We have stopped the rot here recently.”

    Hayles says they are expecting the wind to veer towards the north in the next six to ten hours and to go light. “The breeze is going to drop below ten knots for sure. We will go around Bishop Rock at about 18:00 GMT. The last 90 miles to the finish, the routing has us doing it in nine hours, but my own thinking is that it is going to take 14.” So a breakfast time arrival in Plymouth. Significantly, and regardless of the slow finish, Hayles is quietly confident of Ran 2 winning under IRC handicap, which she is leading at present.

    The IMOCA 60s still remain in contention, with BT IMOCA 60 around 22 miles astern of Beau Geste. Despite being sailed doublehanded, this afternoon she has overtaken the fully-crewed Artemis Ocean Racing. The first IMOCA 60s are expected home tomorrow mid-morning.

    Since yesterday the cycle of the wind has changed phase and while en route from Land’s End to the Fastnet Rock yesterday, the fastest boats were heading north awaiting a shift to get them west; today the bulk of the fleet has been heading west waiting for a shift to get them north. Some of the outbound boats have even taken the unorthodox approach of going to the west of the Scilly Isles, rather than the conventional shorter course to their east. Many have been heading so far west that the faster boats returning from the Rock, have seen them coming the opposite way. “Earlier this morning we saw several. I am surprised to see quite so many – it is a pretty aggressive punt out to the west for those boats,” said Hayles.

    One of the boats heading out west was Tanguy de LaMotte’s Initiatives Saveurs-Novedia Group, the new leader in the Class 40. According to Papua New Guinean round the world sailor Liz Wardley who is sailing on board, they were obliged to dive so heavily west because of the wind direction. “We had a huge lift on starboard, more than we expected and so we really had to wait for a huge knock before we could tack over. So yes, we are quite far west.” They finally tacked back to the north at around midday.

    “We are hoping the wind is going to lift us a little bit more, so we can make the Fastnet in one tack, because we are 10 degrees low,” continued Wardley, adding that at around 15:30 GMT they had 16-17 knots from the west, with the wind building the further north they sailed.

    Further behind, Katie Miller and Hannah Jenner, two-handed on Miller’s Beneteau Figaro 2, Hot Socks, were enjoying the conditions off Land’s End. There the wind was southwest and Miller was hoping that it wouldn’t build as they are unable to use their water ballast at present since the pump “has just died”.

    They are recovering from a difficult first night when they had to make two attempts to anchor off Portland Bill in 45m of water. If getting the anchor down was a problem, getting it up for the two of them was even harder, the operation taking more than 45 minutes. “We are going to be muscle women by the time we get back,” commented Miller, who says that the Rolex Fastnet Race is personally proving to be as tough as the singlehanded transatlantic race she completed recently. “The race is so short compared to the Atlantic that you are constantly pushing the boat as hard as you can, so you almost sleep less than you would on your own.”

    In terms of the handicap standings, little has changed since this morning in the larger classes where Ran 2 remains ahead in Class SZ. La Floresta del Mar leads Class Z three quarters of the way towards the Fastnet Rock, while Codiam is first in IRC 1, half way to the Rock. However Mike Moxley’s HOD35 Malice has taken over the lead in Class 2, despite a large dig out to the west , with David Lees’ High Tension 36, Hephzibah ahead in Class 3, the latter 10 miles northwest of the Scilly Isles.

    The latest forecast indicates that the first boat home will be ICAP Leopard, sometime before dawn tomorrow.

    The progress of the fleet can be followed by the tracking system fitted to all of the boats racing at


  5. Peter Gustafsson
    Aug 12, 2009 @ 12:41


    August 12, 2009

    Property developer Mike Slade’s ICAP Leopard secured a second consecutive line honours victory in the Rolex Fastnet Race in the early hours of this morning. With the mixed conditions the 100ft super-maxi was considerably behind the course record she set two years ago. Arriving at the Plymouth breakwater finish line at 00:09:36 GMT, her elapsed time on this occasion was 2 days 11 hours 9 minutes and 36 seconds, compared to 1 day 20 hours 18 minutes and 53 seconds in 2007.

    ” It was a great race ,”commented Slade. ” It is always nice to have a race where there are no breakages or damage. We didn’t get into any difficult situations. We just wanted to get around fast and competently. All in all we are delighted to be here, second time running, back to back victories in this great race. A huge thanks to the RORC, our sponsors ICAP and Rolex for yet again taking an interest in yachting.”

    To have broken the record would have required more wind, but despite this the 2009 Rolex Fastnet Race was still a nailbiter, said Slade. “There was a lot of light air and ‘are we going to get through a tide gate?’ It made for a very exciting race. We were always looking over our backs because, Rosebud, Ran and Luna Rossa were all there, all ganging up, only 20 miles behind all the time. So we couldn’t afford to make any mistakes.”

    ICAP Leopard’s next major events are the Rolex Middle Sea Race out of Malta in October followed by the Rolex Sydney Hobart in December. “No one has ever won all three and we will give it a try,” said Slade adding that he would be back to try for a third win in the RORC’s biennial offshore classic in 2011. Specifically this is a warm-up for the race to Hobart . “There is Maximus from NZ, Alfa Romeo and Wild Oats, so we’ll have our work cut out. We will go down there and represent Britain and try and knock off the Aussies. God knows what they are going to do at the Oval [the Ashes cricket contest]. We might need to get some revenge!”

    ICAP Leopard arrived in Plymouth earlier than anticipated. On the way to the Bishop Rock the boats behind had been closing in on her, but on the final leg to the finish they managed to redress the balance, hanging on to the breeze, contrary to the forecast and making the tide at the Lizard. “I think the boats behind ended up transitioning into our breeze,” explained Ray Davies, Emirates Team New Zealand afterguard, who was calling tactics on board ICAP Leopard. “We never got the breeze they had and they sailed out of their westerly.”

    Karl Kwok’s brand new Farr 80, Beau Geste was second home, arriving in drizzly Plymouth at 03:25:03 GMT, and now tied up in Sutton Harbour. “The race has been enjoyable,” commented Kwok. “We are racing the same IRC Class SZ boats as we did in Cowes Week, so we know each other’s strengths and weaknesses more or less. Knowing that beating everyone on handicap is almost impossible, our hope was maybe line honours for the class, because once into the ocean, waterline (length) counts. So it was a drag race and we beat Ran on that one, but they are pretty close.”

    Apart from three short races at Cowes Week, this was Beau Geste’s first major race and both Kwok and skipper Gavin Brady said they still have much to learn about the set-up and development of the boat. “There are still a lot of things we can still do to reduce its rating,” said Kwok, who intends to enter his new boat in all the classic races he has not yet entered. Their program includes the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup in Sardinia then the Rolex Middle Sea Race. Brady added: “It is a big ask to bring a boat like this straight into one of the biggest events in Europe as your first race, but there is a lot we can take out of it.”

    Brady says that in the Rolex Fastnet Race, the leaders seemed to be connected by elastic. “Our race didn’t really start for 24 hours and in a race that is that short you are giving away a lot of race course, where you are behind your competitors. By the time we passed Ran 2 we were 13-14 hours into the race. As soon as we got up to a ten-mile lead, then the compression started again and each time that happened, there was less and less race course.”

    One of the most interesting races on the water, that developed in the last few hours, was that between Niklas Zennström’s Judel Vrolijk 72, Ran 2 and BT IMOCA 60, sailed two handed by Sebastien Josse and Jean-François Cuzon. This battle from Bishop Rock to the finish was won by the French duo, arriving just over one minute ahead, the wind dropping all the time to a minimum of five knots.

    “We saw Ran just before the Scilly Isles,” recounted Josse. “We crossed and we said ‘maybe these guys will gybe, because we are on starboard’. And no one moved.but then we are a bad reference because when we gybe we have to start 20 minutes before! Then eventually we saw the bowman go on the bow, furl the staysail and in seconds they were away. So I said ‘maybe we won’t match race with these guys because we’ll lose’.”

    Nonetheless in the VMR running conditions, the blue IMOCA 60 stayed ahead, despite having run headlong into a moon fish while crossing the Celtic Sea and running out of diesel by the time they reached the finish.

    Despite being beaten on the water by BT IMOCA 60, this was of little consequence to Niklas Zennström and the crew of Ran 2. This morning they remain the leader overall on handicap.

    “I think we knew it would be up to the last bit here, but I think we have a good chance,” commented the Skype founder on their prospects of a handicap win in what is the first major offshore race for their new boat. “We didn’t lose so much here at the last bit. We had a good breeze all the way in, so we have a good chance. But now we have to wait and see.”

    Zennström had no regrets about bringing his boat all the way back up to UK from the Mediterranean, to where it will now return. “One of the objectives when we built the boat was to race a Rolex Fastnet Race competitively. Two years ago we had to pull out – so we had some revenge to do.”

    According to Ran 2 navigator Steve Hayles, they ended up arriving in Plymouth three hours earlier than he had anticipated yesterday. After the distance between the front runners compressed as they reached Bishop Rock, he says it was not the wind speed but the direction that saved them on the final run home. “It stayed a bit more westerly and it didn’t go around to the north, so we didn’t have all the issues of trying to get under the land. We ended up running down in here.” They then got less foul tide passing the Lizard, extending their lead over the boats astern.

    This morning the lead boats in IRC Class Z have been rounding the Fastnet Rock, with the majority of the fleet still crossing the Celtic Sea outbound. Under handicap, Piet Vroon’s new Ker 46, Tonnerre de Breskens has taken the lead in IRC Z and is now most of the way back to Bishop Rock. French boats continue to dominate the small handicap classes. The Grand Soleil 43 Codiam remains in front of Class 1, having rounded the rock at 0300 GMT. Just short of the rock, the A35 Prime Time has taken over first place in Class 2, while the Dufour 34 Major Tom is still first in Class 3.

    Finish times:
    1) ICAP Leopard, Mike Slade (GBR) – 00:09:36 GMT
    2) Beau Geste, Karl Kwok (HK) – 03:25:03
    3) BT IMOCA 60, Sebastien Josse (FRA) – 04:00:15
    4) Ran 2, Niklas Zennström (SWE) – 04:01:33
    5) Artemis Ocean Racing, Sam Davies (UK) and Sidney Gavignet (FRA) – 05:15:41
    6) Safran, Marc Guillemot (FRA) – 05:56:18
    7) Team Pindar, Mike Sanderson (NZ) – 06:15:42
    8) Aviva, Dee Caffari (UK) – 06:57:13
    9) Luna Rossa, Flavio Flavini (ITA) – 07:01:54
    10) Rosebud Team DYT, Roger Sturgeon (USA) – 07:45:37
    11) Akena Verandas, Arnaud Boissières (FRA) – 08:34:51

    The progress of the fleet can be followed by the tracking system fitted to all of the boats racing at


  6. Peter Gustafsson
    Aug 13, 2009 @ 12:56


    August 12, 2009

    A steady influx of boats has continued to stream into Sutton Harbour in Plymouth’s historic Barbican quarter today, the first finishers in the 2009 Rolex Fastnet Race. At the end of the afternoon, 17 boats have arrived including eight IMOCA 60s led by Sebastien Josse’s BT IMOCA 60s, and including Volvo Ocean Race winner Mike Sanderson’s Team Pindar, home in seventh place and fourth in the IMOCA 60 class.

    “We have amazingly tight racing between quite different boats if you saw them lined up on the dock,” commented Sanderson upon his arrival. “Seb Josse and Vincent Riou [former Vendee Globe winner, sailing on Akena Verandas] are incredibly experienced singlehanded sailors. I knew as soon as they were with us at Fastnet Rock that we were going to struggle.”

    According to Sanderson he lost distance on the leaders en route back to Bishop Rock from the Fastnet when he didn’t direct Team Pindar far enough north. “North of the rhumb line was pretty advantageous. You saw Safran gain a lot there and Aviva lost a lot on the outside of us. So I need to learn my lessons and believe in the routing.”

    This was Sanderson’s fifth Rolex Fastnet Race, his previous races on board boats like the maxis New Zealand Endeavour and Sayonara and the Volvo Ocean 60 Merit Cup. Otherwise it had turned out to be a challenging race, much better than the forecast had indicated before the start. “We always love some breezy reaching stuff in Open 60 world. A 600 mile windward-leeward isn’t ideal for these boats but it was great, even though the course wasn’t great for us to blast along.” His blue IMOCA 60, designed by Juan Kouyoudmjian, who also penned ABN AMRO ONE, his 2005-6 Volvo Ocean Race winner, is in the process of being sold but Sanderson hopes to remain involved with the boat when it transfers to its new owner.

    While ICAP Leopard scored the elapsed time win for a second consecutive time, the all-important handicap victory is looking increasingly like it will go to Niklas Zennström’s immaculately sailed 72 footer, Ran 2. Plymouth sailor Nigel Passmore and his IRC-optimised TP52 Apollo looked vaguely hopeful, but as the latest arrival their elapsed time corrected out to 3 hours 18 minutes outside of Ran 2’s corrected time of 4 days 2 hours and 30 minutes. This left Apollo fourth overall with the two STP65s Luna Rossa and Rosebud/Team DYT between them and the race leader.

    Aside from the handicap win, one of the toughest competitions remaining on the water is going on in the Class 40 fleet where, once again, French shorthanded sailor Tanguy de LaMotte is leading aboard his Initiatives Saveurs – Novedia Group. At 1600 GMT his blue and white Class 40 was rounding Bishop Rock.

    “Once we got around the Fastnet, we’ve been pretty quick,” commented round the world sailor, Liz Wardley, competing on board. Mid-afternoon they were “hooning along” in 15-22 knots of westerly breeze and relatively flat seas. Wardley reckoned the wind would veer to the northwest tonight and drop as they approached Plymouth tomorrow morning.

    Having won the Transat and most recently the Les Sables-Horta-Les Sables race, here on the Rolex Fastnet Race, Italian Giovanni Soldini is in the unusual position of not leading the Class 40 fleet. However, relishing the big broad reaching conditions, his boat has been closing in on the leader. From 13 miles behind this morning, late afternoon he has closed to within six miles. According to Soldini, the reason for catching up today has purely been one of his powerful boat preferring the stronger conditions.

    The reason why Soldini is in catch-up mode is partly due to snaring a net around his yacht’s keel bulb off the Lizard. “That was very bad for us,” said Soldini. “We’ll see if we can catch up Tanguy, but it is very difficult. We are catching up slowly, but I don’t think it will be enough. So we need to hope for some tactical opportunity.”

    Among the large luxury rides that have reached Sutton Harbour is the well-appointed Performance Yacht 100, Liara, belonging to Tony Todd. Among the benefits of sailing on board this New Zealand-built super yacht has been the opportunity to shower and eat cordon-bleu food and a chance to delve into their extensive DVD collection, where we understand Bad Boys II was the favourite of the trip in the quieter moments.

    The progress of the fleet can be followed by the tracking system fitted to all of the boats racing at


  7. Peter Gustafsson
    Aug 13, 2009 @ 12:57


    August 13, 2009

    This morning, the tally of arrivals on the Rolex Fastnet Race is up to 43 after a busy night with the leading boats in the Class 40 and Zero fleets arriving.

    Making possibly the best entrance last night was Robert Lutener and Martin Elwood’s IRC-optimised TP52, Cutting Edge. She crossed the finish line off Plymouth breakwater at 2100, at the same time as the British Fireworks Championship lit up Plymouth Sound.

    “We had 20 knots reaching into Plymouth, just about made it past the breakwater to be greeted by 10,000 people. We got cheered coming in. We felt like proper rock stars,” recounted crewman James Grant, for whom this was his first Rolex Fastnet Race and first race longer than about 10 hours.

    For an inshore sailor like Grant, the Rolex Fastnet Race was an unusual experience, including, for the Cutting Edge crew, anchoring for six hours off Portland Bill to await the tide to turn. Their boat was originally Patches, a one time Rolex TP52 Global Championship winner, and built for round the cans races. However some offshore optimisation remains to be done, as in the seaway the crew found themselves having to bail 14 buckets of water every hour.

    “And all our instruments went down,” continued Grant. “Averaging 16-17 knots and broaching in the pitch black with the waves getting bigger and bigger in the Irish Sea – I was pretty scared at times to be honest. And we saw porpoises and pilot whales. That might sound romantic, but it was fantastic. In all, it was awesome, amazing experience.”

    Two slawarts of British yachting arrived shortly after dawn. Former Commodore of the Royal Ocean Racing Club, David Aisher, finished at 04:23:20 GMT on board Yeoman XXXII, 32nd boat home and just ahead of Richard Matthews’ Oystercatcher XXVI. On handicap Yeoman is currently 12th, while Oystercatcher is fourth in IRC Z.

    Yeoman had got off to a fantastic start, until they fell into a large wind hole off Lymington. They then went too close in to Portland Bill and were forced to anchor for around 40 minutes, although Aisher says it ended up costing them more like 90 minutes .

    Unconventionally, en route up to the Fastnet rock, Yeoman went to the west of the Scillies rather than between the Scillies and Land’s End. “It is just where we were at the time with the tide,” explained Aisher. “We were going out from the Lizard and the wind was such that it was due to lift us and when it lifted us we just stayed on the wind and came up round outside the Scillies. If we had flicked over and gone inside we wouldn’t have got the long lift and we would have been fighting the tide through the gap, so we just went out and round.”

    Racing on Oystercatcher was former America’s Cup helmsman Andy Green, who says he wishes they had gone outside of the Scilly Isles. “It would have been a big call, but we don’t have particularly advanced routing software.”

    Of their Rolex Fastnet Race Green commented: “We had a great time and I think we did alright. It was not too heavy at any point. It was reasonably windy to the rock, nothing out of the ordinary, nothing more than 20 knots, on the wind, and tiller steering, so you know about it after three hours. Then downwind from the rock, we were doing 12-14 knots all the way home, and in a 42-footer that is pretty good going. We didn’t make too many mistakes and we had a good time. It was great.” Like Yeoman they had to anchor for around an hour.

    The major competition that concluded shortly after dawn this morning was that of the Class 40s. In the end, Tanguy de LaMotte’s Initiatives Saveurs – Novedia Group managed to maintain her advantage from yesterday to take first place, de LaMotte sailing three up with Liz Wardley and Guillaume Lebrec.

    De LaMotte arrived at 03:59:30 GMT, just over two hours ahead of Italian Giovanni Soldini’s Telecom Italia, scoring his best Class 40 result to date. “It was quite a big race, there are a lot of boats and it was very close between the top three at least. I was third in the Quebec-St Malo and I had a third with Liz on a doublehanded race and now a win ahead of the top guys. So I am looking forward to the Class 40 Worlds next week.”

    Soldini says Telecom Italia came into her element yesterday in the slightly stronger downwind conditions to Bishop Rock and on to the finish and during this time caught up to within five miles of the leader. At the Lizard, shortly before the finish, they tried to coax the French boat inshore. “We tried to make some ‘gybes’ – you never know! – we were doing some suicide gybes! But he didn’t fall for it,” said Soldini.

    Portimao Global Ocean Race winner, Boris Herrmann and his Beluga Racer came home third, just nine minutes after Telecom Italia.

    “We never sailed together before and we knew the boat very little compared to the first and second placed boat, so we can be very happy with the result,” commented Herrmann. They had been slow to get out of the Solent, but were one of the few boats that managed to pick up places sailing along the south coast of the UK, moving up to second by day two, neck and neck with the leader. “After six hours side by side eating 50m out of him, we got in front, so it was a really exciting day with a lot of trimming and steering. But suddenly a sail slipped from the deck into the water and it was our very important Code Zero. So we made a crash gybe and got it back out of the water, but lost 250m and it took about six hours to get it back!”

    Under handicap, Niklas Zennstrom’s J-V72 Ran 2 is looking favourite for an overall win under IRC, while Amanda Hartley’s Spanish-registered Swan 56 La Floresta Del Mar is looking equally strong in Class Zero, almost 90 minutes ahead of Piet Vroon’s Tonnerre de Breskens. French boats continue to lead the smaller classes. Yet to finish, Codiam still leads Class 1, while Marc Alperovitch’s A-35 Prime Time has taken over first place in Class 2 and Fabrice Amedeo’s X-332 Bateaux Mouches du Pont de l’Alma is ahead in Class 3.

    The progress of the fleet can be followed by the tracking system fitted to all of the boats racing at


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