In 2007, Mike Slade's Farr-designed 100ft Maxi, ICAP Leopard (GBR) crossed the Rolex Fastnet Race finish line in an incredible elapsed time of 1 day 20 hours 18 minutes. Having trailed the 90-foot Rambler (USA) by just three seconds at the Fastnet Rock, Leopard turned on the afterburners, smashing the monohull record by nearly nine hours. ICAP Leopard was also victorious in the last Rolex Fastnet Race, winning line honours in 2009. But this year, ICAP Leopard is under serious threat from George David's Juan Kouyoumdjian-designed Rambler 100, which has proved to be even faster than ICAP Leopard:
"Having won the Fastnet Race twice, the big play is to win three in a row, which would be quite exceptional," commented Mike Slade. "During the RORC Caribbean 600, Rambler proved to be the faster boat in her ideal conditions, but the recent light airs in the Annapolis to Newport Race gave us hope. We were thrilled to lead the fleet out of the Chesapeake River, even though Rambler is a much lighter boat. Rambler 100 may also need to protect herself in bad weather, more than ICAP Leopard. We feel we have a good chance in light and heavy airs, it is the bit in between that we might have a problem! I am really looking forward to the Fastnet, it should be a very exciting race but above all else, I don't want to lose our record to Rambler, that would be heartbreaking and we will vigorously defend it."
Lee Overlay Partners vs Jazz
ICAP Leopard smashed the course record in 2007, but the handicap prize that year went to Ger O'Rourke's, Cookson 50, Chieftain. The canting keel flyer has since enjoyed tremendous success under the ownership of Adrian Lee, including an overall win for Lee Overlay Partners (IRL) at the inaugural RORC Caribbean 600. This year, Lee Overlay Partners has a very accomplished adversary in fellow Cookson 50, Jazz (AUS), owned by Chris Bull.
Adrian Lee is originally from Ireland but spent much of his adult life in America. For him, the Rolex Fastnet is more than just a race: "The boat won the race in 2007, it is what the yacht was built for and I see no reason why it will be any less competitive this year. For me the Rolex Fastnet Race is the definition of classic offshore yacht racing, just as Wimbledon is to tennis and the Grand National is to horse racing. When you approach the Fastnet Rock, you can literally taste Ireland and it is the spot where the Celtic Sea mixes with the Atlantic and all the history and romanticism that conjures up inside me is difficult to describe."Jazz navigator, Mike Broughton has been instrumental in putting together an extensive programme with Jazz:
"Our first big race was the Rolex Sydney Hobart and it was a very windy affair. Jazz just loves big breeze and we came second overall, just losing out in fading breeze at the end. The Jazz team has been sailing together for some time and Chris has a very professional approach. Realistically, we want 35 knots plus to beat the Maxis. Jazz and the crew have proved very capable in heavy weather and in those conditions, we will see the big race boats needing to back off."