Rolex Fastnet Race Archives

Crew member on UAE1 Abu Dhabi

Passing lands end

We are engaged in a very tight match race with Groupama as we pass just East of the Scilly Isles. After building up a pretty good lead over Team Sanya and Groupama we lost most of it in a one hour period where we struggled to get the boat going. We finally stopped to clear the foils and were immediately rewarded with an extra knot of speed. We were back on the pace just in time before Groupama passed us. Since then we have been shadowing each other with Groupama generally sailing lower and faster and us sailing slower but higher. Just before daybreak we were able to tack onto port about 100 metres directly in front of Groupama and we have been tied together with elastic ever since. Sometimes we stretch away only for Groupama to come right back at us. Right now we have about a half mile advantage but the wind is light and seas are choppy. Whilst we conduct our private match race Team Sanya is doing exactly what is expected of them. They are going well and sailing with the freedom that being an underdog allows. They have crept out early on port and just scraped passed Lands End. This could be a race defining moment for them - and us. We decided to let them go and stick with what the weather and routing software was telling us would pay off in the long term. Their tracker isn't working but if it was they probably look quite good right now. Everything is fine onboard Abu Dhabi and we are all just relieved to be somewhere near the pace. We are trying to rest up before what looks like a wet and windy night ahead of us. Something tells me that half a mile here or there might not make a difference when the wind hits us all later.

Ian Walker - skipper Abu Dhabi