Rock around the Rock
Most of the big boys have finished the Rolex Fastnet Race and the Barbican is an impressive sight; Liara, Luna Rossa, Rosebud, Beau Geste, RÁN, the list is endless, the hardware unbelievable. This morning, picturesque Sutton Harbour in Plymouth hosted its first dockside presentation with Mike Slade and his ICAP Leopard crew claiming line honours for the 2009 Rolex Fastnet Race. Slade paid tribute to his competition; "You guys had us looking over our shoulder from start to finish." Niklas Zennstrom's JV 72, RÁN, looks a likely winner of the handicap prize overall, as Plymouth based, Nigel Passmore's TP 52, Apollo, missed out by over three hours, this afternoon. But there are 300 boats in this race and most of them are still battling away.
In the Two-Handed class Mike Moxley's HOD 35, Malice has been in top spot for the short handers, the entire race. Currently 221 miles from the finish and achieving a higher average speed than the competition. Still very much in touch though are Simon Brady's Figaro, Sonic Boom II and Nicolas de La Fourniere's X 34, Exile Mirabaud.
The Class 40s are having a real battle, Tanguy delamotte's Initiatives Saveurs - Novedia Group holds the lead by seven miles from Giovanni Soldini's Telecom Italia and Boris Hermann's Beluga Racing. This class could produce a real nail biting finish. The leaders are at Bishop Rock, on the last leg to the finish.
In IRC Zero, Amanda Hartley's Swan 56, La Foresta de la Mar, is leading with under 100 miles to go but being hauled in very slowly by Piet Vroon's Ker 46, Tonnere de Breskens which will be faster in light downwind conditions than the displacement Swan. Jens Keuhne's American RP 48, Sjambok, is in third.
Loday & Nicoleau's Grande Soleil 43, Codiam is storming away in IRC Class One; leading by 11 miles with 150 to go but having a significantly quicker speed over the ground than their nearest rivals; Jacques Pelletier'S X 43, L'Ange De Milon and Cyrille Legloahec A 40, Batistyl.
In IRC Class Two, the leading boat is Alperovitch & Huillard's, Prime Time. The French A 35 is a weapon downwind and is reveling in the conditions, in second place on handicap is the vintage J 35, Jackdaw, owned by David Walters who is having an excellent race with 200 miles to go, are slowly closing the gap on the leaders, just five miles ahead. Didier Darbot's, Sphinx 33 Parsifal, is in third place.
In IRC Class Three, Fabrice Amedeo's X 332,Bateaux Mouches du Pont de l'Alma, named after the romantic bridge near the Eiffel Tower, is in pole position but Fabrice Tropres' Dufour 34, Major Tom is really making the grade less than a mile behind their French compatriots. Some way back in third is Britain's David Lees, in his High Tension 36, Hephzibah.
The Lloyd's Yacht Club's Swan 53, Lutine, has raced in countless Fastnet races including this one but the yacht had a first in this year's Rolex Fastnet Race; as they rounded the famous rock, Andrew Jameson ‘popped the question' to Liz Lotz, another one for the record books; she said "Yes."