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Swings & Roundabouts for Fastnet Yacht Race Fleet As First Night Draws On

6th August 2017
Harry Heijst’s classic S&S 41 Winsome racing in Cowes Week 2017. With Laura Dillon as lead helm, Winsome is among the front runners in the current Rolex Fastnet Race Harry Heijst’s classic S&S 41 Winsome racing in Cowes Week 2017. With Laura Dillon as lead helm, Winsome is among the front runners in the current Rolex Fastnet Race

It’s classic Fastnet Race Day One evening conditions, with the fleet plugging to windward along the coast of Dorset, and the tide about to turn foul at Portland Bill writes W M Nixon. With the relatively rapid progress westward through the afternoon while the ebb was at its strongest, the Irish contingent in all its ramifications was having its moments of glory.

Of the boats mentioned yesterday in Sailing on Saturday as worth watching, at one stage we were in the dizzy position of having Peter Dunlop & Vicky Cox’s J/109 Mojito from Pwllheli, but with half her crew from the National YC, lying second overall, while Harry Heijst’s classic 41ft S & S Winsome, with Laura Dillon of Howth the No 1 helm, was in third.

With a fleet this size, the mix is re-jigged by the minute, and for a while our hottest hope was Paul Kavanagh’s vintage Swan 44 Pomeroy Swan, which is a regular and successful contender on the RORC programme in the English Channel, but is down in the entry list as being very much Irish.

fastnet start editThe Fastnet Race Start of the IRC Z & VO65 Classes Rambler 88, Sail No: USA 25555, Class: IRC Zero, Owner: George David, Type: Canting Keel Sloop Cqs, Sail No: AUS 11111, Class: IRC Zero, Owner: Ludde Ingvall, Type: Supermaxi

The Kavanagh boat was lying third as we started to write this, but now she has slipped back to 13th, while Winsome is very much back in the frame, she lies second overall while the current leader is the extraordinary two-handed JPK 10.10 Night and Day from France, overall winner of the 2013Race, and sailed by the Loison father and son team.

As for Mojito, she’s back in 32nd, which shows you just how cruel the pace can be in a fleet of 312 in the IRC Division, and with every possible permutation of boat size, type, and location being put to the racing test. Thus the currently best-placed J/109 is the Irish National Sailing School’s Jedi, showing at 29th but she’d been up a 20th for a respectable period.

Race tracker here

Up at the front of the fleet, Paul Meilhat’s IMOCA 60 SMA is setting a cracking pace. The word on the waterfront is that his co-skipper is our own Marcus Hutchinson, so that can be offset against the fact that Alex Thomson and Nin O’Leary took an inshore tack a while back with Hugo Boss, and didn’t do well out of it at all. They now lie ninth and are down to 9.1 knots while SMA is pacing away from the entire class at 10.4 knots.

George David’s Rambler 88 is starting to get into the hunt as the fleet sorts itself out from the different start times. It has been notable just how high she is able to point relative to some of the more specialist craft while still sailing at 12.4 knots, so after the up-coming six hours of foul tide with the smaller boats in the strongest area of it, we should see Rambler move up from her current 63rd overall in IRC./

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