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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.

"We passed the Fastnet Rock at 01:07 BST (11 August) and had the honour of being the first in our class!” commented Louis-Marie Dussere from on board Raging Bee². “We passed close to the lighthouse without seeing it because of the fog - real Irish summer weather! We have had problems with sails and technical issues, like a lot of boats I suppose. But everything is fixed and Raging Bee2 is at 100%. The crew is in good shape, we have managed our sleep well and the food is good!”

“We are at the Fastnet Rock, we have seven knots of wind from the south, but soon we will be beating again,” said Alexis Loison just as Léon was approaching the Fastnet Lighthouse. There is a big fight in IRC Three, especially with Raging Bee, which is right behind us..”

Alexis Loison's doublehanded JPK 10.30 Léon © Paul Wyeth/pwpictures.comAlexis Loison's doublehanded JPK 10.30 Léon © Paul Wyeth/pwpictures.comRounding the Fastnet Rock in the world’s biggest offshore race is a memorable experience for any sailor. More so for the crew of Denis Murphy & Annamarie Fegan’s Irish Grand Soleil 40 Nieulargo. The crew are all from Cork and their family and friends motored out in the dead of night to watch Nieulargo round the lighthouse. By then the wind had piped up to 20 knots with a sea state to match.  

“Rounded my marriage/engagement location this morning at 3:26:15,” commented Nicholas O’Leary. “We got so close to Cork we could smell the gannets. We are trying to outrun a front arriving from the west and still in touch for the class. We could ‘smell’ the pints of stout from the Rock.”

At 08:00 BST on Wednesday 11 August, Léon was estimated to be leading IRC Three by approximately one hour after IRC time correction from Raging Bee². Fujitsu British Soldier was third, just five minutes ahead of Hey Jude after IRC time correction. Fifty teams are still racing in IRC Three, while 23 boats have retired or discontinued racing. For positions on all of the fleet visit the Rolex Fastnet Race Tracker Page.