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Third Time Lucky for Sun Hill III

Sun Hill III's crew celebrate victory in IRC Four © Paul Wyeth/www.pwpictures.com Sun Hill III's crew celebrate victory in IRC Four © Paul Wyeth/www.pwpictures.com

IRC Four is the smallest IRC class in terms of numbers for the Rolex Fastnet Race but the passion has shone through in tough conditions. The last of the IRC Four warriors in the 50th edition of the Rolex Fastnet Race are still at sea, and for many of them the incentive for the last big push is to makes tonight’s Prize-giving in Cherbourg. 

The IRC Four podium is now decided. François Charles' Dehler 33 Sun Hill III (FRA) finished the race on Thursday 27 July, after nearly five days at sea. Sun Hill III have won IRC Four, and placed 22nd overall in a fleet of 358 boats racing under IRC. 

Second after IRC time correction is one of the smallest boats in the race, Marc Willame’s JPK 960 Elma (FRA), racing doublehanded with Antoine Jeu. Completing the podium is Chris and Vanessa Choules' Sigma 38 With Alacrity (GBR), the top fully crewed team in IRC Four and once again top Sigma 38 for the Rolex Fastnet Race. Samuel Duménil and Antoine Runet racing JPK 960 Casamyas was provisionally third in class, but received a scoring penalty for being over the line at the start.

Sun Hill III, François Charles Dehler 33, finished the race in first place after nearly five days of racing © Paul Wyeth/www.pwpictures.comComing into sight of the Cherbourg forts: Sun Hill III, François Charles Dehler 33, finished the race in first place after nearly five days of racing © Paul Wyeth/www.pwpictures.com

Launched in 1996, Sunhill III is raced by a group of four friends from Morlaix Bay, near Roscoff, Brittany. This was the third Rolex Fastnet Race for Sunhill III, third in class in both 2019 and 2021, and it was third time lucky for the 50th edition in 2023.

“This was the hardest Fastnet Race that we have ever done but we are very happy,” commented François Charles dockside at the finish. “The start was very tough and then we had another storm after Land’s End and the last 24 hours was very difficult - we flew the spinnaker during the day but at night it was taken down, because racing at 18 knots in the dark with big waves, you need to be in total control. This is always a hard race and after each one, we have said never again, but we keep coming back for the challenge. Also we are all riggers and we have a new type of carbon cable and this is a really good way to see how it performs. It is not difficult for us to enter the Fastnet, we have our own boat and our own team. Of course we are constantly looking at ways of improving Sun Hill III, but that is all part of the enjoyment.

"We have made the podium twice before, but never won our class so we are very, very happy to win as a team of friends. We have spent many good times together; we have laughed a lot in this race and many RORC races before.”

Today, Friday 28 July, the Sun Hill III crew of François Charles, Jean-Gabriel Jourdan, Jordan Ropars, and Olivier Leroux will lift the Iolaire Cup as winners of IRC Four at the Rolex Fastnet Race Prize-giving.

The marina in Cherbourg-en-Cotentin is fast filling with competitors; less than thirty yachts are still racing on Friday morning © Arthur Daniel/RORCThe marina in Cherbourg-en-Cotentin is fast filling with competitors; less than thirty yachts are still racing on Friday morning © Arthur Daniel/RORC

By Louay Habib