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Tom Kneen’s JPK 11.80 Sunrise has sewn up IRC Two in this 49th Rolex Fastnet Race. The Devonshire team crossed the Cherbourg finish line at 1004 BST this morning. Sunrise’s corrected time of 4 days, 6 hours, 45 minutes 4 seconds has given Kneen IRC Two victory by a huge margin. As Sunrise finished, her closest rival was just past the Lizard with more than 120 nautical miles still to sail.

After a hideous outbound beat down the Channel, when they never seemed to be in phase with the tide, Sunrise’s first break came after making the last minute call to go up the eastern side of the traffic separation scheme at Land’s End with Il Corvo as the majority of the frontrunners chose to go up the TSS’s west side.

Rounding the Fastnet Rock on Tuesday mid-evening, Sunrise already had pulled out a 1 hour 12 minute lead under corrected time.

But the key moment of her race came as, while she was forging past the Lizard, the wind utterly switched off for those astern as an area of high pressure rolled over them.

“There was a big ridge chasing us at 10 knots, so we just had to go faster than 10 knots the whole way down there,” explained Dave Swete, Sunrise’s sole pro sailor. “It never caught us, but it caught the rest of the guys which I think went down to our fighting hard at the start and when we were fighting current for the first half of the race.”

A jubilant Kneen shared his take on this: “The key moment was at the Scilly Isles when we were trying to hold on to the original wind to get us safely into the Channel. All of our weather routing said we’d be stuck in the light pressure, and we had chosen the sails that we believed we needed to deal with that.”

From there, the crew kept their fingers crossed, while looking over their shoulders. As they arrived in Cherbourg having straight-lined it from the Scilly Isles, their competitors were still on a very different part of the chart.

“We feel very fortunate to have made it here, arriving at a good time for the strong tides just before the finish,” said Kneen. “But there really was no relaxing until we actually crossed the finish line. Nothing is ever certain in this game.”

Sunset cross the finish line in Cherbourg Photo: Paul WyethSunset cross the finish line in Cherbourg Photo: Paul Wyeth

Tom Kneen is jubilant after winning IRC Two Photo: Paul WyethTom Kneen is jubilant after winning IRC Two Photo: Paul Wyeth


Scilly Isles park-up

Meanwhile the rest of IRC Two over the course of the early hours this morning compressed into a tight bunch to the west and south of the Scilly Isles as they parked up, unable to break free of the clutches of the ridge. Their restart only occurred at around 0600 this morning. This afternoon they were well on their way to the western side of the Casquets TSS.

A massive 17 hours off the lead is Scarlet Oyster, Ross Applebey’s Lightwave 48, followed by a group that includes the JPK 10.80s Richard Fromentin’s JPK 11.80 Leclerc Hennebont/Cocody and Dutchwoman Astrid de Vin’s Il Corvo, plus Swede Olof Granander’s First 40.7 Embla and Eric Fries’ Fastwave 6 from France. Of this group Fastwave 6 was the only one brave enough to attempt to extract themselves from the ridge by sailing south of the TSS to the south of the Scilly Isles with limited success. Based on current progress, this group is expected to finish on Friday morning.

The Scilly Isles parking lot also had a devastating effect on IRC Three. The lead trio coming into it - Louis-Marie Dussere’s JPK 1080 Raging-bee²; Alexis Loison and Guillaume Pirouelle’s JPK 1030 Léon, followed by Philippe Girardin’s J/120 Hey Jude - rounded the east side of the TSS to the west of the Scilly Isles only to hit the meteological brick wall mid-evening yesterday.

Robertson-Bomby lead in IRC Three

The IRC Three race restart has brought some new players into the mix with the British duo of Volvo Ocean Race sailor Henry Bomby and double Olympic gold medallist, turned doublehanded offshore sailor, Shirley Robertson on the Sun Fast 3300 Swell sauntering into the lead on corrected time. Swell also currently holds an 11 miles advantage over the defending champions Léon. Cheekily sneaking ahead of the previous front three is Aileau, the JPK 10.80 of Olivier Burgaud and Sylvain Pontu. Swell was making 9.4 knots but on a course suggesting they may be looking for relief from the Alderney Race south of Alderney this evening.

On board Léon defending champion Alexis Loison will also be wondering what he can do to reclaim the lead of IRC Two-Handed which Swell has taken off him in the overnight reshuffle.

From the Sun Fast 3300 Fastrak XII he’s racing doublehanded with Matt Smith, Nigel de Quervain Colley reported: “Very frustrating park-up to west of the Scillies last night, allowing some boats to gain a 20 mile advantage. Now playing catch-up. We had a fast ride up to the Rock - flew the Fractional Zero and pulled masses against the fleet – up to second in IRC Two-Handed at one point. But that’s the thing about yacht racing… we will remember the good bits and bury the bad!”

New faces at the front of IRC Four

A restart has also occurred in IRC Four. Ludovic Menahes and David le Goff on the JPK 10.10 Raphael had been emulating Sunrise and Ino XXX in grafting hard to extend away from the chasing pack, both on the water and under IRC corrected time…until they too hit the brick wall at the Scillies. First Raphael’s crew was unable to cover as they rounded the west side of the TSS to the west of the Scillies as the two British boats, Richard Palmer and Jeremy Waitt on the JPK 10.10 Jangada and Tim Goodhew and Kelvin Matthews on the Sun Fast 3200 Cora, sailed down its east side. However, the Brits found themselves first to be nailed by the ridge as Raphael and the majority of the IRC Four fleet that was behind her were faster to extricate themselves.

Racing doublehanded with Calanach Finlayson on the Sun Fast 3600 Diablo in IRC Three, Nick Martin shared his pain from last night: “I need counselling having sat there for several hours. We did pretty well up to the Rock and were in good shape. The leg back down wasn’t ideal - I think we lost the plan a little bit, but generally we did okay. But when we got to the Scillies it just went completely t**s up. We got stuck there with Jangada and Fastrak and Cora and there was nothing we could do about it. All the routing said to go that way, but it didn’t account for this wind loss and the tide was building and it was like a washing machine.”

Martin said they didn’t kedge as it was too deep and they were doublehanded and eventually they tried to get back to the west side of the TSS. “We did that successfully in the end, but it took hours and all the time all we could see on the tracker was the rest of the fleet going by from the bottom of the TSS, like a motorway - all the boats we had left behind hours and days ago were back. That was galling.”

Having fallen so far behind, Martin said that this afternoon they were trying “something different” and have taken a small flier north towards the Lizard in an attempt to reclaim some ground. “The routing saying this is the quickest way to Cherbourg but there are no other boats around. We’ll see if it pays off.”

At midday the IRC Four leaders on the water were fanning out across the Channel due south of the Lizard with Raphael furthest south, with Harry J. Heijst’s S&S 41 Winsome and Vincent and Jacques Rigalleau’s Sun Fast 3200 Enedis immediately to the north, and the Pinteauxs JPK 10.10 Gioia closest to the Lizard. Over the course of this afternoon Raphael has inevitably nosed back into the lead on the water.

However, leading on corrected time seems to be one of the smaller IRC Four boats: Benefitting greatly from the park-up has been Alain Guelennoc’s X-332 Trading-advices.com with Chris Choules’ Sigma 38 With Alacrity and Irish Offshore Sailing’ Sun Fast 37 Desert Star, skippered by Ronan O'Siochru currently second. But you wouldn’t put money on it remaining this way in 24 hours time.

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Day 5 0830 The ideal time for the projected IRC overall Fastnet Race IRC leader - James Neville's HH42 INO XXX - to reach the Fastnet Race finish in Cherbourg was by 20:30 hrs BST last night, in order to be still carrying some favourable tide while the breeze lasted. Well, she was there at 20:34. But her crew had little time to enjoy her exalted position, as a locally fresh westerly in the middle of the English Channel was having a very favourable effect on the projected placings of a small group of boats which had broken clear of calm conditions south of Land's End. They were racing towards the finish through the night to such good effect that one of them, ISORA sailor Andrew Hall's Lombard 46 Pata Negra from Pwllheli SC, was projected as becoming the new overall IRC leader.

But PN's moment of glory was relatively short-lived - the strengthening west-going ebb tide slowed her progress, and soon things were looking reasonably good for INO XXX again, such that when Pata Negra crossed the line around 08:00 this morning, the Neville boat was shown as corrected to more than two hours in the lead.

Pata Negra (Andrew Hall, Pwllheli SC) was shown for a while during the night as being the potential overall leaders of the Fastnet Race 2021, but when she finished at Cherbourg at 08:03 this morning she'd slipped back to real second behind INO XXX, and both boats are potentially challenged by the IRC 2 leader Sunrise, which had just ten miles to sail to the finish at 0900 this morning.Pata Negra (Andrew Hall, Pwllheli SC) was shown for a while during the night as being the potential overall leaders of the Fastnet Race 2021, but when she finished at Cherbourg at 08:03 this morning she'd slipped back to real second behind INO XXX, and both boats are potentially challenged by the IRC 2 leader Sunrise, which had just ten miles to sail to the finish at 0900 this morning.

JPK 11.80 Sunrise closes on Fastnet finish

However, INO XXX faces a fresh assault on her exalted position, for although the bulk of the remaining fleet were held back by calm conditions in the Land's End/Isles of Scilly area last night, the IRC 2 leading boat Sunrise (Thomas Keen GB) a JPK 11.80, is closing in on the finish with just 20 miles to go at 0800, making 9 knots with a favourable tide with projections giving her the overall lead and the IRC win, while INO XXX retains the IRC Class 1 win.

INO XXX crew celebrate an excellent raceINO XXX crew celebrate an excellent race Photo: Paul Wyeth

Meanwhile, things haven't been at all happy back in that area of often lumpy sea south of the Isles of Scilly and Land's End. In one part of it, very light airs or even complete calms had Kenneth Rumball and Pamela Lee in the leading Figaro 3 RL Sailing going virtually nowhere for a while, with a similar fate befalling the IRC 3 leader nearby, the JPK 10.30 Leon (Alexis Loison).

French yacht Palanad reaches the Finish line illustrating the near calm conditions French Class 40 yacht Palanad reaches the finish line illustrating the near calm conditions on the Fastnet Race track Photo: Paul Wyeth

They have got going once more, but not before Shirley Robertson & Henry Bomby in the Sun Fast 3300 Swell were shown as having taken both the IRC 3 and the IRC 2-Handed lead, which they are indicated as continuing to hold with just under 150 miles to sail, but there may be a technical fault at HQ in this position indicating.

On-board technical faults may have played a key role in what has been been a hugely frustrating light airs night for the Murphy family's Nieulargo from Cork west and south of the Isle of Scilly. It will be recalled that for 24 hours shortly after the start, they'd to do without wind instruments, but with a strong and steady breeze and a fresh crew they were little hampered.

Nieulargo from Cork has had a frustrating night.Nieulargo from Cork has had a frustrating night.

Nieulargo (RCYC) position

However, the area around the Isles of Scilly make for notoriously difficult sailing, and any crew need all the instrumental support they can get, so Nieulargo's fall from 8th in IRC 3 to 26th (in a class of 73) has been painful.

Meanwhile, in IRC 4, Irish Offshore Sailing's Ronan O'Siochru and Conor Totterdell from Dun Laoghaire racing the Sunfast 37 Desert Star have had a very good night of it, leaping from 13th up to sixth in class, and currently sailing at 5.6 knots on track for the finish 178 miles away.

Update 0930: Desert Star moves up to second in IRC

Tracker below

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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.

The situation changes in the smaller classes. There’s a wholly French podium in IRC three, with two Brits still gunning hard, while, again, in IRC Four French boats hold two of the podium positions separated by a Dutch boat. Despite the burgeoning British doublehanded scene, France holds six of the seven top spots in IRC Two-Handed.

Tala looks strong in IRC Zero

With the absence of Nicolas Groleau’s Bretagne Telecom this year, so David Collins steered his Botin 52 Tala across the finish line this afternoon with a strong grip on IRC Zero and remaining well in contention for a podium spot in IRC overall, finishing at 16:42 BST in 3 days 5 hours 2 minutes and 49 seconds, Tala beat German Jens Kellinghusen's Ker 56 Varuna by just over two hours on corrected time. Quietly confident, Collins & Co are keeping one eye on the likes of Richard Matthews’ brand new CF520 racing machine, Oystercatcher XXXV, which is due in this evening, but looking unlikely to topple Tala.

Collins was pleased with how they’d tackled the race: “The first bit was very tough, but this boat has seen some big weather before. The waves were short and steep, but the crew looked after the boat well. We were double-reefed at times because we were hitting the waves hard. Then the next part of the race was fascinating - tactically very challenging.” This is where Tala’s navigator, Campbell Field, earned his keep: “Campbell made some great calls, working out how to get past this last TSS zone for example, finding some counterintuitive moves that really worked well for us.”

As to Tala’s chances of winning the race overall, Collins was philosophical: “We’ve done what we came to do, which is try to win our class. As for the rest of it, all boats sail on a different bit of the ocean, experiencing different tide and different winds. What we do know is that whoever wins overall will have sailed their boat really well.”

Other potential IRC One challengers include Störtebeker, the Carkeek 47 from Hamburg skippered by Katrina Westphal, and Lady First 3, the Mylius 60 skippered by France’s Jean Pierre Dreau.

VO70 I Love Poland © James TomlinsonVO70 I Love Poland Photo: James Tomlinson

Strong Polish performance in IRC Zero

In the Celtic Sea, Polish entries were strong for IRC Zero victory, but the final hundred miles to the finish saw them slow and plummet down the rankings. Nevertheless the VO70 I Love Poland and VO65 Sailing Poland have put high-performance offshore sailing back on the map in their country. Grzegorz Baranowski’s VO70 is crewed by sailors primarily under 30 years old. For the Rolex Fastnet Race they had the added experience of British Figaro veteran Alan Roberts and former Volvo Ocean Race winner Martin Strömberg.

26-year-old navigator Konrad Lipski explained I Love Poland’s objectives: “Its aim is to bring in young sailors with strong backgrounds in youth, Olympic or other forms of racing, and give them an opportunity to gain experience.” Line honours victory in the 2020 Rolex Middle Sea Race was a great milestone, and now a solid performance in the Rolex Fastnet Race brings more credibility and momentum.

Running a similar youth development focus is the VO65 Sailing Poland, which had Bouwe Bekking as guest skipper. “It was good to see the 16 and 17 year olds coming through this race, sailing well,” said the Volvo Ocean Race veteran. “Maybe the result won’t be as good as it could have been because of the big compression, but that’s ocean racing - there’s nothing you can do about that. Now the boats behind us have the tide against them which will be a bit painful for some, that might gain us a bit of time back.”

A close finish for IMOCA's - 11th Hour Racing and CharalA close finish for IMOCA's - 11th Hour Racing and Charal Photo: Paul Wyeth

After the exceptional IMOCA win for Apivia early this morning, there was yet more compression in the fleet astern as the Vendée Globe 60 footers fell foul of the Alderney Race. Nonetheless the defending IMOCA champions, Jérémie Beyou and Christopher Pratt on Charal, maintained second, despite facing a stiff final challenge from Anglo-Swiss duo Simon Fisher and Justine Mettraux on 11th Hour Racing, third by a mere 27 seconds. “To push Charal for second and sneak past Arkea, Paprec was a great result for us in our first doublehanded race,” said Fisher, a fully crewed round the world race veteran, enjoying being skipper for the first time in a major race. “I am really happy with how it went and how Justine and I are working together. It was a belter of a race.”

Allegra favourite to claim prize in MOCRA class

The Nigel Irens 84 catamaran Allegra, sailed by Adrian Keller arrived at 11:28 BST this morning and looks set to collect the MOCRA prize. This follows Allegra’s multihull class victory in the last RORC Caribbean 600. Keller commented: “This is a happy moment. A week before the race, I was not sure if I could even get into England because of the restrictions, so getting to the start line was great and the outcome was fantastic. “I think we have now proved that Allegra is more than a floating apartment and demonstrated this type of boat can race and hold its own against racing designs. This was my first [Rolex Fastnet] race, and it was very exciting. I have a great deal of respect for the course. The start was very windy and coming out from Hurst Castle it got really tough. However, I will remember the Fastnet lighthouse - pitch dark, but you could see that light. That will be is a memory of a lifetime.”

While Oren Nataf’s speedy Pulsar 50 catamaran Rayon Vert regained a lot of ground in the last 24 hours she was almost two hours outside of Allegra’s corrected time.

The Nigel Irens 84 catamaran Allegra, sailed by Adrian Keller looks set to collect the MOCRA prizeThe Nigel Irens 84 catamaran Allegra, sailed by Adrian Keller looks set to collect the MOCRA prize Photo: Paul Wyeth

Leader change in Class40

In the early hours of this morning Luke Berry’s defending Class40 champion Lamotte - Module Création got rolled while crossing the Celtic Sea en route to Bishop Rock by Antoine Magre’s Palanad 3. Magre’s newer Sam Manuard Mach 40.4 design was then able to extend, passing Bishop Rock at around 0500. Since then Berry has also had to look over his shoulder to defend against Switzerland’s Valentin Gautier on Banque Du Leman (another Mach 40.4). Approaching the west side of the Casquets TSS, Berry managed to recover some ground but will be hoping for a last chance saloon opportunity playing the tides south of Alderney.

RORC Commodore James Neville and his HH42 INO XXX appear to have blitzed IRC One and are due in late this evening, also currently with a good chance of the overall prize this year. Over the course of today Andrew Hall’s Lombard 46 Pata Negra and Mark Emerson’s A13 Phosphorus II (ex-Teasing Machine) have been performing well, along with the 73ft van de Stadt ketch Stormvogel.

In IRC Two, Tom Kneen’s JPK 11.80 Sunrise, sailed by a RORC youth crew, passed Bishop Rock at around 1430 BST and was making good progress on course towards the finish having extended their lead to 40 miles over Dutchwoman Astrid de Vin’s sistership Il Corvo. Today the biggest risers have been Bernard Wilmet and Yannick Grecourt’s Hanse 470e and Ross Applebey’s Lightwave 48. The majority of IRC Two will round Bishop Rock this evening. However a significant meteorological feature will be affecting the boats around the Scillies this evening as a front rolls through bringing strong southwesterlies ahead of it, but weak northwesterlies behind it.

Meanwhile the IRC Three leaders are approaching the TSS due west of the Scilly Isles and look set to leave it to port. The closest of fights among the frontrunners in any of the classes exists here with defending champions, Alexis Loison and Guillaume Pirouelle’s JPK 1030 Léon out in front but with several others in contention. Making best progress today out to the east are the British two-handed duo Volvo Ocean Race sailor Henry Bomby and double Olympic gold medallist Shirley Robertson on the Sun Fast 3300 Swell.

This afternoon the IRC Four frontrunners were two thirds of the way between the Fastnet Rock and Bishop Rock making 7 knots. Here David le Goff's JPK 10.10 Raphael continued to lead both on the water and under corrected time. However the fight is really on for second place with Francois Charles’ Dehler 33 Cruising Sun Hill 3 currently up to second from Harry J. Heijst’s S&S 41 Winsome.

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Day 4 1900: In the approaches to Cherbourg, the notorious tidal streams are running favourably for Fastnet Racers approaching from the west this evening until about 22:30 hrs, at which time smaller slower boats may find that a gate has in effect been shut in their faces as the west-going ebb in the English Channel – or more properly La Manche on this French side of the storied waterway – begins to ebb with increasing vigour westward, reaching a two to three hour peak around half tide of sufficient speed to bring some of the little'uns effectively to a halt.

With those smaller slower boats still well down the line as the 300-plus Fastnet fleet continues over its new extended 695-mile course with the finish at Cherbourg rather than Plymouth, it will take time over the next two or three days to get a full picture of what the Cherbourg finish really means.

For now, the fact that the winds off Cherbourg are extremely light means that even the fastest boats are going to find the tidal effect playing a greater-than-normal role, and despite the favourable tide a usually swift machine like Richard Matthews' 52ft Oystercatcher XXXV has been struggling to get over seven knots in the final approaches to the finish.

This makes it a ferocious race against time and tide for a boat 30 miles astern, a boat which used to be in the Matthews stable, but is now James Neville's INO XXX and is currently (18:30 hrs) making better than 8 knots over the ground.

All of this is largely of academic concern for most of the boats of Irish interest, as they're generally still on the long haul from the Fastnet Rock to the Bishop Rock in the Isles of Scilly, or east of the Bishop in the approaches to the English Channel. Thus while INO XXX currently leads IRC1 by an impressive margin, the Lombard 46 Pata Negra of Pwllheli SC (Andrew Hall) is now fourth in IRC1, but with a substantial 112 miles still to sail to Cherbourg.

The current 52ft Oystercatcher, number XXXV, in which Richard Matthews – holder of the Denis Doyle Memorial Trophy – is racing his 23rd Fastnet.The current 52ft Oystercatcher, number XXXV, in which Richard Matthews – holder of the Denis Doyle Memorial Trophy – is racing his 23rd Fastnet.

IRC 3 has been a special area of interest, but here the mega-talented Alexis Loison of France continues to lead with the JPK 10.30 Leon, and he also heads the IRC Two-Handed Division (his co-skipper is Guillaume Pirouelle), while the best-placed Irish continues to be the Murphy family's Grand Soleil 40 Nieulargo, in eighth position, with 231 miles to the finish.

In IRC4, Irish Offshore Sailing's Sunfast 37 Desert Star from Dun Laoghaire had almost got herself back into single figures, but during the past hour has slipped back to 13th with 274 miles to sail.

Up ahead, Kenneth Rumball and Pamela Lee continue to lead the now three-boat Figaro 3 two-handed class with RL Sailing, they've opened out a useful lead of better than two hours, and will shortly have less than 200 miles to race to the finish.

By the time they and the other Irish boats have got to this new Cherbourg line, we'll have a clearer picture of just how big a role that tide-riven approach to the finish is going to play. But it looks as though the big southwest winds expected tomorrow (Thursday) off the west coast of Ireland won't be spreading their tentacles sufficiently far to the southeast to significantly affect the Fastnet finish.

That said, apart from the biggest of the biggies, this race is still far from over with regard to the final placings

Live tracker below

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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.

While the Ultimes led the charge south across the Channel, Apivia led the IMOCAs but went even further towards France before tacking. This was because, uniquely, they managed to link up a series of benefits - positive tide at the Alderney Race, then a wind shift and then more positive tide off Brehat. “There was a very small window to get the combination exactly right. Our timing was perfect,” said Dalin. Their tack north was timed so that not only did they lay the west side of the TSS at Land’s End, but could stay on course to lay the Fastnet Rock.

Apivia - first IMOCA to finish the Rolex Fastnet Race Photo: Paul WyethApivia - first IMOCA to finish the Rolex Fastnet Race Photo: Paul Wyeth

Apivia after rounding the Fastnet Rock © Kurt Arrigo/RolexApivia after rounding the Fastnet Rock © Kurt Arrigo/Rolex

Amazingly, at the TSS Apivia converged with the ClubSwan 125 Skorpios, a boat more than twice her length. The two boats then match raced across the Celtic Sea to the Fastnet Rock, Apivia doing an impressive job to keep up. “That was good,” said Dalin. “It was a shame because if the wind had been maybe 15° left and 2-3 knots more we would have overtaken them for sure. At 60° TWA we were faster.” Such are the performance gains of the new generation foilers.

However, this was not to last. After rounding the Fastnet Rock 49 minutes astern of Skorpios and cracking sheets, the big boat sped away. The remainder of the race for Apivia was a complex case of playing tides and staying in the best breeze. This involved initially hugging the Cornish coast before ducking south of the Casquets TSS.

The trickiness of the situation in the Channel, from Bishop Rock on, was best demonstrated by the boats astern. When second placed IMOCA Jérémie Beyou and Christopher Pratt on Charal passed Bishop Rock at 1340 BST yesterday they held a 125 mile advantage over 10th placed HUGO BOSS. By 0500 this morning huge compression in the fleet had occurred and HUGO BOSS had closed to 28 miles of them. As a result, a busy morning is expected in Cherbourg with the bulk of the IMOCAs, the multihull leader under the MOCRA rule, Adrian Keller’s Irens 84 performance cruising catamaran Allegra, and some of the IRC Zero frontrunners all due.

Racing in IRC Zero -Richard Matthews’ new speedster Oystercatcher XXXV © Rick TomlinsonRacing in IRC Zero -Richard Matthews’ new speedster Oystercatcher XXXV © Rick Tomlinson

Consolidating their position as leader both on the water and under corrected time in IRC One, RORC Commodore James Neville and his HH42 INO XXX © Paul Wyeth/pwpictures.comConsolidating their position as leader both on the water and under corrected time in IRC One, RORC Commodore James Neville and his HH42 INO XXX © Paul Wyeth/pwpictures.com

Generally this morning, the Celtic Sea resembles the M25 with the bulk of the IRC fleet either approaching or exiting the Fastnet Rock.

Overnight suffering in the same compression in the Channel, the compatriots, the VO70 I Love Poland and VO65 Sailing Poland, lost their grip on IRC Zero. In their place this morning is David Collins’ Botin 52 Tala ahead of Jens Kellinghusen's Ker 56 Varuna and Richard Matthews’ new speedster, the CF520 Oystercatcher XXXV also featuring. This morning the bulk of IRC Zero is past Bishop Rock and back into the Channel where the leaders are mid-Channel passing Start Point, and currently laying the Cherbourg finish where they are due later this afternoon.

In IRC One, RORC Commodore James Neville and his HH42 INO XXX have consolidated their position as leader both on the water and under corrected time. But surprisingly moving into second place overnight has been the classic 73ft van de Stadt design Stormvogel. Her Italian owner has entered his classic ketch this year to mark the 60th anniversary of Stormvogel’s Fastnet Race line honours title. Currently the only IRC One boat to round Bishop Rock, INO XXX is now south of the Land's End TSS making 14 knots as Stormvogel is approaching the TSS due west of the Scilly Isles making 10.

As with INO XXX, so in IRC Two Tom Kneen’s JPK 11.80 Sunrise, sailed by a RORC youth crew, is building up a solid advantage on corrected time over Dutchwoman Astrid de Vin’s sistership Il Corvo. However, the other 11.80s, Eric Fries’ Fastwave 6 and Richard Fromentin’s Leclerc Hennebont / Cocody and Ross Applebey’s Lightwave 48 Scarlet Oyster are still nipping at their heels. Sunrise still had 70 miles to go to reach Bishop Rock, but most impressive was that only six boats in IRC One remain ahead of her.

Raging-bee² is battling with three others for the lead in IRC Three after rounding the Fastnet Rock Photo: Rick TomlinsonRaging-bee² is battling with three others for the lead in IRC Three after rounding the Fastnet Rock Photo: Rick Tomlinson

The first quarter of IRC Three is now around the Fastnet Rock. The four-way fight on the water continues between the Sun Fast 3600 Fujitsu British Soldier, Louis-Marie Dussere’s JPK 1080 Raging-bee², Philippe Girardin’s J/120 Hey Jude and class favourites and defending champions, Alexis Loison and Guillaume Pirouelle’s JPK 1030 Léon. Raging-bee² led around the Fastnet Rock shortly after 0100 this morning.

Under corrected time, Léon holds a small lead but Raging-bee² is gunning hard as are the high profile British two-handed duo Volvo Ocean Race sailor Henry Bomby and double Olympic gold medallist Shirley Robertson on the Sun Fast 3300 Swell, who are now also threatening Léon for the first time in the IRC Two-Handed class.

Runaway leader on the water in IRC Four is David le Goff's JPK 10.10 Raphael, flying the flag for France in place of regular winner Noel Racine. Significantly Raphael is also leading under IRC Four corrected time, having rounded the Fastnet Rock at 0400 this morning. The Pinteaux family’s JPK 10.10 Gioia is in the mix as is Vincent and Jacques Rigalleau’s Sun Fast 3200 Enedis and Harry J. Heijst’s S&S 41 Winsome as they head out for their return journey back across the Celtic Sea.

The door is set to close on the next Fastnet Rock roundings as a NNE-SSW orientated front moves across the fleet causing the wind to back into the northwest and lighten behind the front, creating slow spinnaker conditions for those returning from the Rock. It does however mean a faster leg for those already in the Channel who are boosted by 25 knots of reaching conditions.

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Day 4 0900:  As Afloat reported last night, Dmitry Rybolovlev's ClubSwan 125 Skorpios took line honours in the Rolex Fastnet Race yesterday (Tuesday) evening, after crossing the finish line in Cherbourg at 2015 BST.

Their total elapsed time for completing the new 695 nautical mile course from Cowes to Cherbourg was 2 days, 8 hours, 35 minutes, and 5 seconds.

The new Skorpios came through a brutal first 12 hours of the race in good shape, a significant credit to her builder Killian Bushe of Cork, who was at the heart of creating this 140ft behemoth in a 44-month work programme.

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 60 fleet, whose boats admittedly are less than half Skorpios' overall length.

With a slackening southwest to west wind in the final approaches to the finish, long-standing places were changed as the very fully crewed Rambler 88 managed to get past the Imoca 60 Apivia (Charlie Dalin & Paul Meilhat) for the second-in-monohull line honours slot, with Rambler crossing at 03:25 this morning (Wednesday) while Apivia was across at 04:16.

Dmitry Rybolovlev’s ClubSwan 125 Skorpios, skippered by Fernando Echavarri Photo: Paul WyethDmitry Rybolovlev’s ClubSwan 125 Skorpios, skippered by Fernando Echavarri Photo: Paul Wyeth

All three leading monohulls have already left Cherbourg for their base ports as the most straightforward way to comply with COVID-19 regulations. This means that as the bulk of the racers reach the finish towards the end of the week, the fleet gathered will not be fully representative of those who took on the Fastnet challenge, but in the circumstances, it has been a remarkable achievement that 335 compliant boats were able to start from the Solent on Sunday.

Today the main focus of interest will be on how the light south-westerly winds in the English Channel towards Cherbourg and the finish are affecting the rankings, with the fleet in the Fastnet Rock area – after sailing for a day in a firm sou'wester – now having to contend with a frontal system which is swinging the wind into the northwest for a while before tomorrow (Thursday) sees it backing again to stronger winds from the southwest.

The HH42 InoXXX (James Grevillle) is now IRC Overall Leader in the Fastnet Race after a major re-shuffling of the leaderboard during the nightThe HH42 InoXXX (James Grevillle) is now IRC Overall Leader in the Fastnet Race after a major re-shuffling of the leaderboard during the night. Photo RORC/Paul Wyeth

Meanwhile, this morning's new circumstances have panned out very neatly for British skipper James Greville's HH42 Ino XXX, which has punched above her weight throughout the race without featuring unduly on any podiums to which she might have entitled. Yet now, due south of Land's End, she's making eastward at a brisk 13.7 knots and has leapt into both the IRC1 and the IRC Overall leads.

Second in IRC 1 and close south of the Isles of Scilly is the Swedish Elliott 44 Matador, 22 miles astern of Ino XXX, while Andrew Hall of Pwllheli SC with the Lombard 46 Pata Negra – IRC1 leader at the Fastnet – is now fifth in IRC1.

Nieulargo (RCYC) racing off Cork Harbour. She rounded the Fastnet Rock in the small hours of this morning at almost exactly the time predicted while she was still way back south of Land's End. Photo: Robert BatemanNieulargo (RCYC) racing off Cork Harbour. She rounded the Fastnet Rock in the small hours of this morning at almost exactly the time predicted while she was still way back south of Land's End. Photo: Robert Bateman

Irish interest in the small dark hours of this morning was focusing on Cork's own Grand Soleil 40 Nieulargo getting round the Fastnet, and she did so at 03:27, comfortably within the time estimate area given by Nin O'Leary off Land's End yesterday (Tuesday).

They got to the Rock three hours ahead of the veering which will consolidate their position on boats astern, but offwind sailing is not Nieulargo's greatest strength against more modern and much lighter boats. She was doing best – and very well at that – when it was rugged work direct to windward, but nevertheless, she still holds eighth position in class, where the leader persists in being Alexis Loison in Leon.

In IRC 4, Irish Offshore Sailing of Dun Laoghaire's Sunfast 37 Desert Star is in the final miles to rounding the Fastnet, and it was 0645 as the weather front began to go through in her area to bring headwinds for a mercifully brief period. She has been going well, and has moved up two places to 11th in Class.

There may not be many Figaro 3 boats racing, but Kenneth Rumball of Dun Laoghaire and Pamela Lee of Greystones have a lead of better than an hour over the next one, and are more than a third of the way down the long leg to the Isles of Scilly after rounding the Fastnet at 01:00.

Kenneth Rumball and Pamela Lee on the Figaro 3 RL Sailing rounded the Fastnet at one o'clock this (Wednesday) morningKenneth Rumball and Pamela Lee on the Figaro 3 RL Sailing rounded the Fastnet at one o'clock this (Wednesday) morning

The light airs in the midst of the English Channel have churned the placings big time. Yesterday evening we left the fleet with the two Polish former Volvo 70s, I Love Poland and Sailing Poland, lying first and second on IRC overall, a remarkable national showing. But now they're back in 6th and 12th, with 25 and 35 miles respectively still to sail to the finish. And there's an even longer way to go before the final placings can get posted in this most complex of races.

Live tracker below

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Irish boatbuilder Killian Bushe from Cork Harbour has been thanked by the Nautor Swan CEO for his role in the debut success of the massive ClubSwan 125 Skorpios that took monohull line honours in the
49th edition of the Rolex Fastnet Race last night.

The ClubSwan 125, Nautor’s Swan flagship of the ClubSwan line, the high-performance range of the Finnish yard, débuted remarkable success at the Royal Ocean Racing Club’s premier event, the Fastnet Race.

Bushe built the boat in a 44-month quality project as Afloat's WM Nixon references here.

Launched last July at the BTC Yard in Pietarsaari, she has achieved the result hoped when she hit the water.

Designed by Juan K, with the interior design by Adriana Monk, for the construction of the yacht the yard employed the most brilliant minds in the sailing industry for a high technology monohull, built and conceived to be faster than the wind.

The most advanced technology has been put at sailing service for this “beast” which is testing her at one of the most awaited events of the year, the Rolex Fastnet Fastnet.

Lining up against 337 yachts, on August 8th 2021, Skorpios crossed the start line at the Royal Yacht Squadron to begin her voyage to the Fastnet Rock, an amazing show which revealed her beauty and magnificence.

After sailing through the English Channel and across the Celtic Sea, on Monday Skorpios became the first monohull to round southwest Ireland’s most famous rock. Skorpios rounded just astern of the final Ultime trimaran, the Jacek Siwek-skippered elongated ORMA 60, Ultim’emotion 2, but of more concern was a boat less than half her length nipping at her heels.

Irish boatbuilder Killian Bushe from Cork HarbourIrish boatbuilder Killian Bushe from Cork Harbour

After rounding the rock, the breeze dropped off and Skorpios extended the lead on her rival for the line honours victory, George David’s Rambler 88, previous line honours winner, along with the rest of the IMOCA fleet.

Speaking with the Royal Ocean Racing Club following their win in Cherbourg, Skipper Fernando Echavarri was relieved to have come through the Rolex Fastnet Race with the boat intact. “The boat is very strong, we backed off on speed coming out of the Solent, but so was everyone else. We had an idea of what the boat might be able to do, but we didn’t know for sure, so we learned a lot on this race.”

After rounding the rock, the breeze dropped off and Skorpios extended the lead on her rival for the line honours victoryAfter rounding the rock, the breeze dropped off and Skorpios extended the lead on her rival for the line honours victory

Giovanni Pomati, CEO of Nautor, shared his thoughts following the result of Skorpios: “In this special moment in the history of Nautor I can’t avoid sending my thoughts and a great thanks to the international team that contributed to the building of this racing boat! I’d love to thank once again all the team behind: Enrico Chieffi, Juan K, Adriana Monk, Bob Wylie, Killian Bushe, Richard Ghillies, Roger Sandberg, the team at Nautor yard in Finland, the team at Nautor Swan Global Service that is now taking over the assistance to the boat, the Skorpios crew and shore team led by Fernando Echevannri and Pepe Ribes that’s contributing to the boat set up in great teamwork with Nautor. A huge congratulations and thanks to all of you for changing the pages of the sailing history.”

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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, 35 minutes and 5 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.

Having only started sailing in the last few years, this was owner Dmitry Rybolovlev’s first offshore race which he experienced with his daughter Anna Rybolovleva, also her first-time offshore racing. “We’re very pleased with the boat, the team was great. We want to thank the whole team for such great efforts. We were trying to stay conservative, especially in the high wind at the start, but we’re excited to see what the boat can do in future races. Rounding the Fastnet Rock was kind of magical, it felt like a really special moment.”

Skipper Fernando Echavarri was relieved to have come through the Rolex Fastnet Race with the boat intact. “The boat is very strong, we backed off on speed coming out of the Solent, but so was everyone else,” said the Spanish professional. “We had an idea of what the boat might be able to do, but we didn’t know for sure, so we learned a lot on this race.

Dmitry Rybolovlev’s ClubSwan 125 Skorpios, skippered by Fernando EchavarriDmitry Rybolovlev’s ClubSwan 125 Skorpios, skippered by Fernando Echavarri Photo: Paul Wyeth

“The owner is super happy, he’s a good sailor but new to offshore sailing and he enjoyed the experience a lot. I think there is a very good chance we will be back for the Rolex Fastnet Race.”

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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 Ultimes 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.

“We messed up the finish, but not only the finish,” Coville admitted. “We had quite a safe start and actually it was quite tough to have so many tacks on such a big trimaran. The boat is going very well - we were happy with her. We have improved a lot, especially upwind in tough conditions. After the Casquets we were seven miles behind Maxi Edmond de Rothschild but we made a lot of navigation and tactics mistakes during the race. It was quite difficult to be honest with a lot of changes and a lot of different conditions, but very exciting.”

Coville added that on three occasions during the race their maxi-trimaran with its towering rig had run out of wind. “For me, the world’s two most fantastic races are the Rolex Sydney Hobart and the Rolex Fastnet Race. These races are just amazing. We should participate every two years in each of them!”

The next boats due into Cherbourg later today are the final Ultime, Ultim emotion 2, due south of Land's End at 0830 BST this morning with 150 miles to go to Cherbourg. She was just ahead of the leading monohull, the mighty ClubSwan 125 Skorpios. Overnight Skorpios has finally managed to shake off the lead IMOCA, Apivia, sailed doublehanded by Charlie Dalin and Paul Meilhat which early this morning was due south of the Scilly Isles.

Yves le Blevec and the team on Ultime Actual celebrate after arriving at the finish line in an elapsed time of 1d 18h 41m 22s © Team ActualYves le Blevec and the team on Ultime Actual celebrate after arriving at the finish line in an elapsed time of 1d 18h 41m 22s © Team Actual

At present nine IMOCAs have rounded the Fastnet Rock with Sam Davies on Initiatives Coeur lying fifth behind 11th Hour Racing and ahead of her partner Romain Attanasio on Fortinet - Best Western. Initiatives Coeur rounded the Fastnet Rock at 0500 BST this morning, but only after a struggle. “It was pretty tricky to get around because at night there is more coastal effect that knocks the wind away, so it was tricky tacking up to get around the Rock.

“The conditions at night were amazing. It was so nice to be in flat water. There was an amazing sunset. It did rain on us as is tradition before you go around the Fastnet Rock.”

Halfway to Bishop Rock this morning, Initiatives Coeur was in 10-14 knots of unstable wind under their Code 0 headsail. However, Davies warned that the boats behind were set to come in with new breeze: “I think the whole fleet will compress because behind us they have more wind and more header and ahead of us they are still spinnakering and gybing downwind.” The good news is that means a more straightforward run, in pressure, from the Scilly Isles to the finish off Cherbourg, where Initiatives Coeur’s ETA is 1000-1100 BST tomorrow.

Formation flying on a painful-looking starboard tack in the mid-Celtic Sea, were the leading Class 40s. Out in front, by a nose, remains defending champion Luke Berry on Lamotte - Module Création, followed by Pierre Casenave-Péré on Legallais and Italian Andrea Fornaro on Tales2 to their south. All the frontrunners were making 6.5-7.5 knots.

Currently, IRC Zero boats are dominating the overall IRC leaderboard, the winner of which will ultimately claim the coveted Fastnet Challenge Cup this year. While the ClubSwan 125 Skorpios is plainly the run-away leader on the water, it remains the Polish VO70 I Love Poland and the VO65 Sailing Poland which are prevailing under IRC corrected time. I Love Poland rounded the Fastnet Rock at around 02:30 BST this morning followed by Sailing Poland just under two hours later. Both are now making 10-12 knots directly towards Bishop Rock. Top British boat in IRC Zero, David Collins’ Botin 52 Tala this morning was approaching the Fastnet TSS, holding fifth place in class.

The two frontrunners have broken away in IRC One with less than 50 miles to go to the Fastnet Rock this morning, both making 6.5-7.5 knots. Overnight Swede Jonas Grander’s Elliot 44CR Matador has nosed ahead, but RORC Commodore James Neville’s HH42 Ino XXX holds a better position tactically to weather and will have less costly manoeuvres to make sailing along the top of the TSS approaching the Rock later today. Both are also doing well under IRC corrected time as is Rob Bottomley's Mat 12 Sailplane, Andrew Hall's Lombard 46 Pata Negra, while alongside her the venerable Stormvogel, celebrating 50 years of her line honours victory, has also had a good night.

Tala at the Fastnet RockTala at the Fastnet Rock

The IRC Two leaders on the water are now into the top third of the IRC One fleet. The lead duo, both JPK 10.80s Tom Kneen’s Sunrise and the Dutchwoman Astrid de Vin’s Il Corvo, headed up the east side of the Land’s End TSS yesterday, as the rest of the pack went west of it. They have since tacked to cover with the result that Sunrise has made a net gain of 18 miles on sistership Richard Fromentin’s Leclerc Hennebont / Cocody. Under IRC this trio is also looking good under corrected time, with Ronald Prins’ J/122e Sailmon JR on the ascent overnight.

the IRC Three leaders are approaching a quarter of the way across the Celtic Sea to the Fastnet RockIRC Three leaders are approaching a quarter of the way across the Celtic Sea to the Fastnet Rock. See live tracker below

Half way up the IRC Two fleet on the water, the IRC Three leaders are approaching a quarter of the way across the Celtic Sea to the Fastnet Rock. Here it is much tighter at the front with four boats fighting it out on the water. Sun Fast 3600 Fujitsu British Soldier is a nose ahead of Louis-Marie Dussere’s JPK 1080’ Raging-bee² and Philippe Girardin’s J/120 Hey Jude and Alexis Loison and Guillaume Pirouelle’s defending champions, JPK 1030 Léon. Loison/Pirouelle continue to hold a slender lead in the class, but hold a much stronger lead in the IRC Two Handed class, where Figaro sailor Loison proudly holds the record for the most number of victories.

Just 12 miles astern of the IRC Three leader, also heading out into a relatively clement Celtic Sea, are the IRC Four frontrunners. They are slightly more spread out with David le Goff's JPK 10.10 Raphael leading on the water from Harry J. Heijst’s S&S 41 Winsome, which is having a spectacular race. Both are looking strong under IRC corrected time as are Tim Goodhew and Kelvin Matthews on their Sun Fast 3200 Cora and Francois Charles’ Dehler 33 Cruising Sun Hill 3.

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Day 3 0900: The Rolex Fastnet Race 2021 has been continuing its theme of conditions seeming to favour the largest or the fastest boats. This may not mean that every biggie is doing well – far from it – but as of 8:30 this (Tuesday) morning, on-water mono-hull leader, the ClubSwan 125 Skorpios, was eastward bound and already due south of Land's End, having rounded the Fastnet at almost exactly 18:00 hrs yesterday (Monday) evening, and now with just 155 miles to sail to the new finish at Cherbourg. Her closest challenger in straight mono-hull finishing terms, Charlie Dalin's brilliantly-sailed Imoca 60 Apivia – less than half Skorpios's overall length – was due south of the Isle of Scilly.

Around them are many much smaller boats, still gallantly plugging to windward with a long way to go out to the Fastnet, though a slow backing of the west wind may favour the mid-fleet craft later today.

The ClubSwan 125 Skorpios with the Fastnet Rock in her wake Photo: Carlo Borlneghi/RolexThe ClubSwan 125 Skorpios with the Fastnet Rock in her wake Photo: Carlo Borlneghi/Rolex

France's Charlie Dalin is having a brilliant year with his Imoca 60 Apivia. On January 27th he was first to finish in the Vendee Globe, and in the current Rolex Fastnet Race, his out-of-the-box tactic of plotting his early windward work to go south of the Channel Islands proved to be a win move and below at the Fastnet Rock Photo: Thomas NewmanFrance's Charlie Dalin is having a brilliant year with his Imoca 60 Apivia. On January 27th he was first to finish in the Vendee Globe, and in the current Rolex Fastnet Race, his out-of-the-box tactic of plotting his early windward work to go south of the Channel Islands proved to be a win move and (below) at the Fastnet Rock Photo: Thomas Newman

France's Charlie Dalin is having a brilliant year with his Imoca 60 Apivia. On January 27th he was first to finish in the Vendee Globe, and in the current Rolex Fastnet Race, his out-of-the-box tactic of plotting his early windward work to go south of the Channel Islands proved to be a win move and below at the Fastnet Rock Photo: Thomas Newman

At the Rock itself, however, winds are light, and as Apivia sweeps effortlessly past the Isles of Scilly, way back at The Rock her fellow Imoca 60 Hugo Boss is still struggling to get round, showing a frustrating speed of only 3.2 knots.

In the overall picture, some boats of special Irish interest continue to show well. ISORA skipper Andrew Hall of Pwllheli with the recently-bought Lombard 45 Pata Negra is maintaining the battle for the IRC 1 lead, and though at time of writing she is shown at fourth in class, she is well on her way our to the Rock, and has had her share and more of being in first place.

The interesting Lombard 45 Pata Negra – on several chartered occasions, she was a boat of success for Irish crews – is now owned by ISORA skipper Andrew Hall of Pwllheli SC, and is in contention for the IRC1 winThe interesting Lombard 45 Pata Negra – on several chartered occasions, she was a boat of success for Irish crews – is now owned by ISORA skipper Andrew Hall of Pwllheli SC, and is in contention for the IRC1 win

IRC 3 continues to see France's multi-talented Alexis Loison in the lead with the JPK 10.30 Leon, and at times he heads IRC2H as well. But Cork's Grand Soleil 40 Nieulargo (Denis Murphy & Annamarie Fegan) continues in the top six and occasionally in the top three, and makes steady progress.

Meanwhile, Dun Laoghaire's Kenneth Rumball with Greystones' Pamela Lee in the Figaro 3 RL Sailing are pacing impressively with the Lison crew on Leone, and maintain their lead in the three-way duel of the Figaro 3 2H division.

The Sunfast 37 Desert Star (Irish Offshore Sailing, Dun Laoghaire) continues to do well in IRC 4The Sunfast 37 Desert Star (Irish Offshore Sailing, Dun Laoghaire) continues to do well in IRC 4 Photo: Afloat

In IRC 4, Dun Laoghaire's indefatigable Sunfast 37 Desert Star (Irish Offshore Sailing) took the slightly risky option of sailing east of the TSS directly off Land's End. But unlike others, they avoided light airs off that most westerly headland, and this morning they're indicated as staying solidly in 4th in IRC 4.

The veteran Polish Volvo 70 I Love Poland (Grzegorz Baranowski) continues to hold the IRC lead in both Class Zero and Overall, she's halfway to the Isles of Scilly from The Rock, and already – after Wizard's notable win in 2019 – the speculation is developing that the old classic Volvo 70s have found a new lease of life as steadily successful Rolex Fastnet Race contenders.

The Volvo 70 I Love Poland currently leads IRC overall. For several years she has been based at Cascais in Portugal in order to maximize training opportunities for Poland's growing offshore racing enthusiasm. Photo: James TominsonThe Volvo 70 I Love Poland currently leads IRC overall. For several years she has been based at Cascais in Portugal in order to maximize training opportunities for Poland's growing offshore racing enthusiasm. Photo: James Tominson

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