Arguably the heart and soul of the Rolex Fastnet Race are the sailors racing in Class IRC Three and IRC Four. Sutton Harbour Marina in Plymouth is now ram-packed with finishing yachts and 135 of them have been racing in Class Three and Four. The boats come in all shapes and sizes and fly the flags of nine different countries; Belgium, Britain, Finland, France, Germany, Holland, Ireland, Sweden and the United States.
Noel Racine's Foggy Dew, repeating their success in 2007, won IRC Class Three. The 33' JPK built in Morbihon Brittany, France is a real pocket rocket, which enjoys fast downwind conditions, however this year, the race for Foggy Dew was mainly upwind.
"It was a very hard battle with the other JPK Wasabi, we were neck and neck all the way to the Fastnet Rock and then the wind died and shifted unexpectedly and Wasabi got there before us by about 40 minutes. So after that we really had to do a lot of hard work," said Racine.
"We had good strategy in the Celtic Sea and as we reached Bishop's Rock, we were just a few metres ahead of Wasabi but still behind on corrected time. 90-miles from the finish, we were beating into light wind and it was there that we made up our time, tacking on every wind shift. This year was very different to 2007, it was a like a 600 mile regatta with several races. The Rolex Fastnet Race is a very interesting race, there are many different parts, you have to change your thinking all the time, to win you have to be able to adapt."
Vincent Willemart's Belgian JPK 10.10, Wasabi was just a close second to Foggy Dew, whilst Alexandre Desprez's Gibsea 414 Geronimo 2 performed well to clinch third place.
Jean Yves Chateau's Iromuguy was the victor in IRC Four. The Nicholson 33 has enjoyed incredible success with 18 race wins, since Chateau purchased the yacht in 1993. The French team has won class for the RORC Season's Points Championship on three separate occasions.
This year's Rolex Fastnet win was their second. In 2007, Iromiguy was the overall winner of the prestigious race. Jean Yves Chateau is a doctor from Bologne sur Mer and his crew is from all over France:
"This was a very different race for us compared to our overall victory in 2007 and probably much harder for us to win. The fetch from the Fastnet Rock back to the Isles of Scilly does not suit Iromiguy, we are a narrow hull shape and also the light winds did not help us as we are a heavier boat compared to most of our class, so it was a very satisfying win. The crew of Iromiguy has raced together for a long time and teamwork and understanding were an important part in our victory. The crew come from all over France but we love to come together to race Iromiguy."
Yves Lambert's Standfast 37, Persephone was just 14 minutes behind Iromiguy on corrected time with David and Mark Lees, Lymington based High Tension 36, Hephzibah in third.