Rolex Fastnet Race News

News

Britain fights back

Britain's David Collins' Botin 52 Tala has a strong grip on IRC Zero © Paul Wyeth/pwpictures.com Britain's David Collins' Botin 52 Tala has a strong grip on IRC Zero © Paul Wyeth/pwpictures.com

In 2019 there was some embarrassment for the rest of the world with France ‘owning’ the Rolex Fastnet Race, winning nine of the 10 classes, albeit with the American Wizard team breaking the French run of overall wins in the race that had lasted since 2013.

Ironic now with the 2021 race finishing in Cherbourg, French boats may have lost their grip on several key territories within the Royal Ocean Racing Club’s premier event. Yes, there is no chance that British or international teams will make an impression on French grand prix classes with Cammas and Caudrelier aboard Maxi Edmond de Rothschild having sewn up the Ultime/Open Multihull class in a similarly dominant way to Dalin and Meilhat on Apivia this morning in the IMOCA class.

But at present in the IRC fleet there are two British boats and one German looking good for the IRC Zero podium, and two Brits and one Swede for the top three spots in IRC One. IRC Two sees another Brit holding a comfortable lead over a Dutch boat, with a French boat third. Significantly a British boat is looking strong to win the coveted Fastnet Challenge Cup for the overall IRC win, but at this stage, no lead is insurmountable.

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Allegra on course to win MOCRA class

Adrian Keller at the wheel of Allegra with crew including Paul Larsen winning the MOCRA Class Copyright ©️ Allegra/Helena Darvelid Adrian Keller at the wheel of Allegra with crew including Paul Larsen winning the MOCRA Class Copyright ©️ Allegra/Helena Darvelid

The 84ft Nigel Irens designed catamaran Allegra, sailed by Switzerland’s Adrian Keller, finished the 695-mile Rolex Fastnet Race course in an elapsed time of 3 days 18 mins and 38 secs and looks set to win the MOCRA Class. This follows Allegra's multihull class victory in the last RORC Caribbean 600.

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Day Four: Raphael first to Fastnet Rock in IRC Four

Raphael, JPK 10.10 sailed by Ludovic Menahes & David le Goff © Raphael Raphael, JPK 10.10 sailed by Ludovic Menahes & David le Goff © Raphael

1200 BST Wednesday 11 August

Just before 4 am BST on the fourth day of the Rolex Fastnet Race, Ludovic Menahes & David le Goff, racing JPK 10.10 Raphael Two-Handed, rounded the Fastnet Lighthouse - the first boat to do so in IRC Four. Raphael also led the class after time correction by over two hours. Racing a 10-metre boat in the Rolex Fastnet Race is an arduous task, coupled with the brutal conditions experienced in the first 24 hours, their performance so far has been nothing short of breath-taking.

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Day Four: IRC Two beam reaching in the Celtic Sea

Ross Applebey's Scarlet Oyster is moving up the leaderboard © Carlo Borlenghi/Rolex Ross Applebey's Scarlet Oyster is moving up the leaderboard © Carlo Borlenghi/Rolex

1000 BST Wednesday 11 August

Beating up towards the Fastnet Rock is making for slow going for the back half of the IRC Two fleet as the wind is blowing from an inconvenient north-westerly direction off the southern tip of Ireland. Once they're round, at least the boats will be able to free up their sails and pick up some pace.

Meanwhile the frontrunners in this division are making good ground back towards the Scilly Isles, the wind blowing from a south-west-southerly direction. While Minnie the Minx (Philip Cook’s First 40) and J’Ouvert (Simon Harris’s J/122e) are bringing up the rear of IRC Two, Tom Kneen’s JPK 11.80 Sunrise is coming the other way, strengthening her hold on the lead.

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Day Four: Leaders Round Fastnet Rock in IRC Three

Louis-Marie Dussere's JPK 10.80 Raging Bee² rounded the Fastnet Rock in pole position © Rick Tomlinson/www.rick-tomlinson.com Louis-Marie Dussere's JPK 10.80 Raging Bee² rounded the Fastnet Rock in pole position © Rick Tomlinson/www.rick-tomlinson.com

1000 BST Wednesday 11 August

In the early hours of the fourth day of the Rolex Fastnet Race, Louis-Marie Dussere’s JPK 10.80 Raging Bee² was the first boat in IRC Three to round the Fastnet Lighthouse. Visibility was poor, the wind was strong, but the glow of light from the legendary beacon lit up the breaking waves. Raging Bee² was not alone, the Army Sailing Association’s Sun Fast 3600 Fujitsu British Soldier, was just five minutes and 24 seconds behind and it was a mere seven seconds before Alexis Loison & Guillaume Pirouelle, racing JPK 10.30 Léon, rounded the famous landmark. Philippe Girardin’s J/120 Hey Jude was the next to round, just under eight minutes behind Léon. Henry Bomby and Shirley Robertson, racing Sun Fast 3300 Swell, was to follow, posting the fastest time in the fleet from The Lizard. The top five boats on the water rounded the Fastnet Rock within an hour, after two and a half days of gruelling racing.

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Apivia – stand-out IMOCA performance

Rolex Fastnet Race victory in the IMOCA class for the hugely talented Charlie Dalin and Paul Meilhat on Apivia © Paul Wyeth/pwpictures.com Rolex Fastnet Race victory in the IMOCA class for the hugely talented Charlie Dalin and Paul Meilhat on Apivia © Paul Wyeth/pwpictures.com

An exceptional example of an extraordinary boat paired up with a hugely talented crew has been the combination of Apivia with doublehanders Charlie Dalin and Paul Meilhat competing in this 49th Rolex Fastnet Race. They arrived in Cherbourg early this morning scoring a resounding win in the 13-strong IMOCA fleet. This came as some small vindication after Dalin suffered victory slipping through his fingers in this year’s Vendée Globe after he was first home only to lose the top prize when Yannick Bestaven and Maître CoQ were awarded a time compensation.

Dalin, an anglophile having studied at Southampton University, enjoyed the Rolex Fastnet Race start, seeing old friends as his IMOCA milled around the Solent before the start. Once the gun had gone on Sunday, the foil-born Apivia leapt into action, and compared to her other 60ft IMOCA rivals looked like an 80 footer. Part of this was down to development work since the solo round the world race: “We have new foils and some new sails. You have to keep these boats evolving to stay at the top of your game,” Dalin explained. Passing the Needles, sailing upwind so fast they were flying, Apivia had already pulled out a two mile lead in the IMOCA class.

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Skorpios takes line honours in Cherbourg

Dmitry Rybolovlev’s ClubSwan 125 Skorpios took line honours in the Rolex Fastnet Race, completing the 695nm course in 2 days, 8 hours, 35 minutes and 5 seconds © Paul Wyeth/pwpictures.com Dmitry Rybolovlev’s ClubSwan 125 Skorpios took line honours in the Rolex Fastnet Race, completing the 695nm course in 2 days, 8 hours, 35 minutes and 5 seconds © Paul Wyeth/pwpictures.com

Dmitry Rybolovlev’s ClubSwan 125 Skorpios took line honours in the Rolex Fastnet Race this evening, after crossing the finish line in Cherbourg at 2015 BST. Their total elapsed time for completing the 695 nautical mile course from Cowes to Cherbourg was 2 days, 8 hours, 33 minutes and 55 seconds.

Competing in her first offshore race, the recently launched Skorpios came through a brutal first 12 hours of the race in good shape. As the breeze softened, Skorpios extended away from her chief rivals for line honours including previous winner George David’s Rambler 88 and the strong IMOCA fleet.

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Day Three: In IRC One Sailplane rounds the Rock in good shape

Matador, Jonas Grander's Elliot 44 racing in IRC One © Rick Tomlinson/www.rick-tomlinson.com Matador, Jonas Grander's Elliot 44 racing in IRC One © Rick Tomlinson/www.rick-tomlinson.com

1800 BST Tuesday 10 August

The lead in IRC One continues to ebb and flow between Matador and Sailplane, with Pata Negra now showing up to spoil the match race. As the fleet was rounding the Fastnet Rock, on IRC corrected time it was Rob Bottomley’s Mat 12, Sailplane, which held a 10-minute advantage over the new leaderboard interloper, Pata Negra, the Marc Lombard-designed IRC 46 campaigned by Andrew Hall and his son Sam.

Only 40 minutes off the pace is recently overtaken leader, Matador, which rounded the Rock late this afternoon, two miles behind INO XXX, James Neville’s HH42. Jonas Grander, owner of the 44ft Matador, got in touch soon after their milestone moment: “To be honest we’re pleasantly surprised at how we’re going. But we’ve sailed together a lot over the years, and we’re very coordinated as a crew.”

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First MOCRA multihull screams into Cherbourg

Jason Carroll's MOD70 Argo crosses the finish line off the light station on Fort De L'Ouest at 1522 BST © Paul Wyeth/pwpictures.com Jason Carroll's MOD70 Argo crosses the finish line off the light station on Fort De L'Ouest at 1522 BST © Paul Wyeth/pwpictures.com

While it is hard to draw attention in the Rolex Fastnet Race away from the fast and the glamorous at the front end of the fleet, we must spare a thought for the smaller boats among Sunday’s 337 starters. As the mighty Ultime trimaran Maxi Edmond de Rothschild was arriving in Cherbourg having devoured the 695 mile course in just over one day, Alaistair Cooke’s Sigma 36 Sundance was heading backwards on the tide at 2 knots, unable to round Start Point still with 570 long miles left to sail.

Over the course of today Brian Skeet and Nicolas Malapert racing doublehanded on the Sigma 38 Marta faced a similar problem as they passed Start Point, only to see it again as they were drawn backwards at the mercy of the tide.

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Day Three: British Soldier leads IRC Three into the Celtic Sea

Denis Murphy's Grand Soleil 40, sailing in IRC Three © Rick Tomlinson/www.rick-tomlinson.com Denis Murphy's Grand Soleil 40, sailing in IRC Three © Rick Tomlinson/www.rick-tomlinson.com

1200 BST Tuesday 10 August

At midday on the third day of the Rolex Fastnet Race, about half of the IRC Three fleet has left the Isles of Scilly to port to race through the Celtic Sea towards the Fastnet Rock.

The Army Sailing Association’s Sun Fast 3600 Fujitsu British Soldier, leads the class on the water, just under two miles ahead of Louis-Marie Dussere’s JPK 10.80 Raging Bee². Philippe Girardin’s J/120 Hey Jude is third. The leaders are still beating, but the wind has abated to about ten knots. It must feel almost serene after the pounding taken over the first two days.

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Day Three: Handbrake turns at the Rock for IRC Zero

Lady First 3, Mylius 60 sailed by Jean Pierre Dreau © Rick Tomlinson/www.rick-tomlinson.com Lady First 3, Mylius 60 sailed by Jean Pierre Dreau © Rick Tomlinson/www.rick-tomlinson.com

1200 BST Tuesday 10 August

The Fastnet Rock has seen a flurry of IRC Zero competitors doing the big handbrake turn this morning along with a bunch of IMOCAs. 

I Love Poland continues to set the pace in IRC Zero, Grzegorz Baranowski’s Volvo Open 70 now holding a six-hour advantage over second placed.

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Slow boats past the Scillies

Thomas Coville’s Sodebo Ultim 3 finished the Rolex Fastnet Race in Cherbourg on Tuesday morning (10 August), completing the 695nm course in 1d 20h 16m 36s © Kurt Arrigo/Rolex Thomas Coville’s Sodebo Ultim 3 finished the Rolex Fastnet Race in Cherbourg on Tuesday morning (10 August), completing the 695nm course in 1d 20h 16m 36s © Kurt Arrigo/Rolex

Ironic after Sunday’s brutal start, less than 48 hours in and across the Rolex Fastnet Race fleet competitors have been struggling in light winds, especially around the Traffic Separation Scheme between Land’s End and the Scilly Isles and, for those right at the front of the fleet, off Cherbourg.

Since last night’s arrival of Maxi Edmond de Rothschild, to a tumultuous reception from the assembled crowds in Cherbourg’s Port Chantereyne, this morning two more Ultime maxi-trimarans have finished with Yves le Blevec’s Actual arriving in an elapsed time of 1d 18h 41m 22s, followed by Thomas Coville’s Sodebo Ultim 3 in 1d 20h 16m 36s.

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Day Three: Sunrise v The Crow in IRC Two

Astrid de Vin's Il Corvo, the name means 'The Crow' in Spanish. © Rick Tomlinson/www.rick-tomlinson.com Astrid de Vin's Il Corvo, the name means 'The Crow' in Spanish. © Rick Tomlinson/www.rick-tomlinson.com

0700 BST Tuesday 10 August

IRC Two is living up to expectations of being a close battle between the JPK 11.80s, a design that has proven highly potent in previous editions of the Rolex Fastnet Race. More surprising is the fact that the French teams are trailing their JPK 11.80 rivals from Great Britain and the Netherlands.

Currently heading the IRC Two standings on corrected time is Tom Kneen’s Sunrise which is engaged in an upwind duel with Astrid de Vin's Il Corvo [Spanish for ‘The Crow’] to the Fastnet Rock, with the British boat six miles ahead of the Dutch and about two hours in front on corrected time.

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Day Three: Raphael leads IRC Four at Land's End

Francois Charles’ Dehler 36 Sun Hill 3 racing in IRC Four ©Paul Wyeth/www.pwpictures.com Francois Charles’ Dehler 36 Sun Hill 3 racing in IRC Four © Paul Wyeth/www.pwpictures.com

0700 BST 10 August

By the morning of the third day of the Rolex Fastnet Race all of the boats still racing in IRC Four had passed Lyme Bay. The leaders on the water have made Land’s End and are readying themselves to pass the Isles of Scilly and into the Celtic Sea. Ludovic Menahes & David le Goff, racing JPK 10.10 Raphael are still leading on the water; an admirable achievement for one of the smallest boats in the race as well as sailing doublehanded. Harry Heijst’s S&S 41 Winsome has recorded the best 24-hour run in the class and is second on the water having skirted close to the exclusion zone overnight.

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