Now downwind, homeward bound back from the Fastnet Rock, the overall IRC leadership has shifted in favour of the bigger boats. With this, there is some excitement sparking up around the Rolex Fastnet Race Village at Plymouth Yacht Haven with the women's Volvo Ocean Race team, Team SCA, moving into first position. This morning the pink VO70 had edged ahead in the IRC Canting Keel class, and this afternoon they have taken the overall lead.
However they are being seriously threatened by the all-male crew led by Ian Walker on Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing, currently just over a mile astern of Team SCA. While there are three male coaches sailing on board Team SCA, including Kiwi veteran and multiple Volvo Ocean Race winner Brad Jackson, the rest of the crew is female.
Former Olympian, multiple Laser Radial and Europe World Champion and Volvo Ocean Race sailor, Carolijn Brouwer, is on board, along with British Vendée Globe sailor Sam Davies and Olympic match racer Annie Lush. "We are currently ahead - it is very close, very exciting!" said Brouwer. "We have them [Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing] in sight for the whole night and they are just to windward behind us a little bit. It has been very competitive racing so far."
Brouwer, originally from the Netherlands, who was helming Team SCA at the start, said that although the Rolex Fastnet Race was the team's first official race, for the crew it represented another step in their training for next year's round the world race.
"We are in 9-10 knots of breeze and conditions are very, very tricky," Brouwer continued. "We have been doing a lot of manoeuvres and a fair few changes - we are just focusing on keeping them clean and tidy." They have used being in contact with the Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing VO70 to compare their performance. "Conditions are extremely tricky and it will only get trickier the closer we get to Plymouth. We just need to keep focused and keep chugging along, like we have over the last couple of days and hopefully it will all turn out okay."
At 1600 BST, Team SCA had 120 miles to go and was 27 miles from Bishop Rock to the west of the Scilly Isles.