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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.”

The Elliot 44 CR came through the first boat-breaking 12 hours of the race with flying colours, according to Grander. “The boat has been rock solid in all the races we’ve done, she’s taken us safely through heavy wind and high seas. We were able to push the boat probably about 95% on Sunday when the conditions were really tough. But people were tired and there were quite a few of us feeling seasick, me included.”

Since then, the softening breeze has required a different set of skills. “It’s been a very different race since Sunday, lighter winds and a lot of important decisions to be made which our navigator has done really well.” While he’s not complaining, Grander would probably prefer more breeze than the 10 knots they’re currently experiencing on the way back from the Fastnet Rock. “We will have some more wind at the Scilly Isles which will be useful. The bigger boats have had a good run of it up to the Rock and back. 

“We’ve had to do quite a bit of tacking to get to the Fastnet and now the smaller boats behind us are sailing straight there because the wind has shifted to the south. So that’s not ideal for our own race, but you can only work with the weather you have, no point in worrying about it.”

Morale on the Swedish boat is high, helped by the daily ritual of hot dogs in tortilla bread. “We have them with mayonnaise, mustard and ketchup, it’s one of the best bits of the day,” laughed Grander. 

About to round the Rock in the new, more southerly breeze are Phosphorus II and Stormvogel both of whom have moved up the rankings in the past few hours. Phosphorus II, owned by Mark Emerson, is a one-off Archambault 13, formerly Teasing Machine when successfully campaigned by Erik de Turckheim.

By IRC 1 standards, Stormvogel is a giant, the 1961 van de Stadt-designed 73ft ketch, considerably bigger than most of her competition. Stormvogel’s skipper Graeme Henry and his crew will be delighted that the breeze has shifted round and cut out the need for any further tacking up to the Rock. Once around the famous lighthouse, the beam reach back towards the Scilly Isles could suit them well.

Stormvogel, Greenwater Marine Limited's Stadt 74 Custom © Kurt Arrigo/RolexStormvogel, Greenwater Marine Limited's Stadt 74 Custom © Kurt Arrigo/Rolex