Unchallenged, Concise 10 blazed into Plymouth this morning, first boat home in the 47th Rolex Fastnet Race. Tony Lawson’s MOD70 trimaran crossed the finish line off Plymouth breakwater at 05:55:00 BST with a race time of 42 hours and 55 minutes. This time didn’t come close to the overall multihull record for the Rolex Fastnet Race but it was still respectable considering they sailed upwind all the way to the Fastnet Rock.
Dockside at Plymouth Yacht Haven, a beaming Tony Lawson commented: “To take the record for the Round the Island Race just a few weeks ago and then this… they deserve it, they have sailed well. Everyone thinks multihulls can’t go to weather, but we led three state of the art monohulls around the Rock by about 100 miles and we led them into Plymouth by 200 miles. So if you want to go fast you have to get yourself a multihull!”
Skipper Ned Collier Wakefield said he had enjoyed the start, leaving the Solent amid the giant spectator fleet and the journey back from the Fastnet Rock: “Last night we gybed south and just sat there doing 30+ knots in flat water and brought that pressure all the way in. The moon was out so you could see what was going on.” As to their exceptional performance to the Rock he added that the MOD70 was sailing upwind, typically making 21 knots at 50 degrees. “The MOD70 is an amazing machine. Every time we go out we still come back smiling.”
Among Concise 10’s crew were Paul Larsen, the world’s fastest sailor (who sailed Vestas Sailrocket 2 at 65.45 knots average over 500m in 2012) and towering Rio 2016 Finn gold medallist and Land Rover BAR crew Giles Scott, sailing his first offshore race. “It was really good,” said Scott. “Upwind, it felt like a long way out to the Fastnet, although I know a lot of the fleet have still got to go through all of that. On the turn round, when we started ripping downwind, Land’s End didn’t feel that far away at all. The fastest speed I saw was 36 knots.”
But fairly pedestrian compared to the 40+ knot speeds he was seeing during the America’s Cup in Bermuda? “Not at night in a seaway! These boats are awesome – get the boards set up right and they just fly. They are amazing bits of kit.”
Ned Collier Wakefield said of his new crewman: “Giles enjoyed it. We scared him quite a few times! He’s not used to heeling over quite so much! He was on the helm on that favourable run back from Bishop and he had a lot of fun. I think he might have the offshore bug – apart from the freeze-dried food… And the lack of sleep… And the cold…”
At the time Concise 10 finished, the first monohull, George David’s Rambler 88, still had 224 nm to go to the finish. Her ETA is now around 0300 tomorrow morning.
Back in the race proper the biggest monohulls are now round the Fastnet Rock and, thanks to their now sailing downwind are pulling ahead under IRC. At 0900 CET Rambler 88 was mid-Celtic Sea on a long gybe east, but had pulled into the lead, not just in IRC Zero, but overall under IRC, taking over the yellow jersey from the biggest boat in the Rolex Fastnet Race, the 115ft Nikata. These two giants displaced the smaller French boats Codiam and Pintia from the overall lead, although they remain ahead in IRC One and IRC Two respectively.
The bulk of IRC One is currently setting off across the Celtic Sea with Vittorio Biscarini’s Mylius 15e25 Ars Una leading the charge on the water while handicap leader Codiam was astern and to weather. Overnight IRC One divided equally up the sides of the Traffic Separation Scheme off Land’s End with the front runners on the water, Ars Una and James Neville’s HH42 Ino XXX, taking the eastern route and Richard Fearon’s RP45 Katsu and Dennis Maijer’s Farr 45 Bucket List leading the charge up the west side, closer to the Scilly Isles. With the wind veering into the NNW, the boats have all tacked and are close to laying Fastnet Rock.
IRC Two are following a similar regime, however their lead trio on the water, Gilles Fournier and Corinne Migraine’s J/133 Pintia, Nick and Suzi Jones’ First 44.7 Lisa (skippered by RORC Commodore Michael Boyd) and Frans and Carla Rodenburg’s First 40 Elke, all headed up the west side of the TSS while James Sweetman’s First 40 Joanna of Cowes led the group up the east side off Land’s End. The leaders in both groups tacked at around 0400 when they were close to laying Fastnet Rock.
Conversely the first group of boats in IRC Three took the eastern side of the Land’s End TSS with Ed Fishwick and Nick Cherry on their Sun Fast 3600 Redshift Reloaded leading (on the water) up the east side alongside Ian Hoddle’s sistership Game On. Meanwhile yesterday’s IRC Three leader on corrected time, Altikhan – Linxea Valoris & Benefits, the A-35 of France’s Johann Bouic, was first on the water heading up the west side of the TSS. However Arnaud Delamare and Eric Mordret’s JPK 10.80 Dream Pearls is now leading IRC Three on corrected time.
Incredibly, the leaders among the smallest, slowest boats in IRC Four are also up among the IRC Two and Three boats. Again, there have been significantly differing tactics here with the two French JPK 10.10s: the Loisins’ 2013 winner Night and Day and Noel Racine’s Foggy Dew taking the eastern route while the present IRC Four leader, Paul Kavanagh’s Swan 44 Pomeroy Swan, had gone west.
Among the professional classes, the stand-out performance remains that of the doublehanded crew of Paul Meilhat and Gwénolé Gahinet on the IMOCA 60 SMA, which is not only 23 miles ahead of the next boat in her class but also 7.5 miles in front of the first fully crewed VO65 Dongfeng Race Team. Among those VO65 crews competing on Leg Zero of the Volvo Ocean Race, the Chinese VO65 was first to round the Fastnet Rock at 07:58 this morning, followed eight minutes later by Team Akzonobel and then Mapfre. Bringing up the rear was Dee Caffari’s fledgling crew on board Turn the Tide on Plastic at 08:55. All seven VO65s initially headed south with MAPFRE the first to gybe east.
In the Class40s Phil Sharp and Imerys were back in the lead this morning about two thirds of the way to the Fastnet Rock however, five other boats were looking threatening, especially yesterday’s leader, Campagne de France, sailed by Halvard Mabire and Miranda Merron, the furthest north of the Class40s at present.