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Hugo Boss Finally Reaches Fastnet Rock: 'Foiling Boats Like This Don’t Go to Windward'

8th August 2017
Hugo Boss at the start of the Fastnet Race on Sunday, little thinking they would have to beat every inch of the way to the Rock Hugo Boss at the start of the Fastnet Race on Sunday, little thinking they would have to beat every inch of the way to the Rock

'Foiling boats like this don’t go to windward'. That frank statement this morning from Nin O’Leary aboard the glamorous IMOCA 60 Hugo Boss which he is co-skippering with Alex Thompson in the Rolex Fastnet Race 2017 goes part of the way to explain why Hugo Boss lies ninth – last, in fact – of the official IMOCA 60s as she rounds the Fastnet Rock at 1500hrs this afternoon writes W M Nixon.

It has certainly been agonising to watch the big downwind flyer’s painful upwind progress these past two days, as the black boat has been outsailed by older foil-less IMOCA 60s. In fact the current class leader, the veteran SMA skippered by Paul Meihat, is all of 72 miles ahead and well down the run towards the next turn at the Bishop Rock off the Isles of Scilly.

But even as we watch Hugo Boss’s speed has gone up to 12 knots and rising, and though the likelihood of easing breezes poses a problem for Thomson & O’Leary, the next 12 hours or so will be very interesting

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Published in Fastnet
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Fastnet Yacht Race 

This race is both a blue riband international yachting fixture and a biennial offshore pilgrimage that attracts crews from all walks of life:- from aspiring sailors to professional crews; all ages and all professions. Some are racing for charity, others for a personal challenge. For the world's top professional sailors, it is a 'must-do' race. For some, it will be their first-ever race, and for others, something they have competed in for over 50 years! The race attracts the most diverse fleet of yachts, from beautiful classic yachts to some of the fastest racing machines on the planet – and everything in between. The testing course passes eight famous landmarks along the route: The Needles, Portland Bill, Start Point, the Lizard, Land’s End, the Fastnet Rock, Bishop’s Rock off the Scillies and Plymouth breakwater (now Cherbourg for 2021 and 2023). After the start in Cowes, the fleet heads westward down The Solent, before exiting into the English Channel at Hurst Castle. The finish is in Plymouth, Devon via the Fastnet Rock, off the southern tip of Ireland.

  • The leg across the Celtic Sea to (and from) the Fastnet Rock is known to be unpredictable and challenging. The competitors are exposed to fast-moving Atlantic weather systems and the fleet often encounter tough conditions
  • Flawless decision-making, determination and total commitment are the essential requirements. Crews have to manage and anticipate the changing tidal and meteorological conditions imposed by the complex course
  • The symbol of the race is the Fastnet Rock, located off the southern coast of Ireland. Also known as the Teardrop of Ireland, the Rock marks an evocative turning point in the challenging race
  • Once sailors reach the Fastnet Rock, they are well over halfway to the finish in Plymouth.
  • The lighthouse first shone its light on New Year’s Day in 1854
    Fastnet Rock originally had six keepers (now unmanned), with four on the rock at a time with the other two on leave. Each man did four weeks on, two weeks off

At A Glance – Fastnet Race

  • The world's largest offshore yacht race
  • The biennial race is 605 nautical miles - Cowes, Fastnet Rock, Plymouth
  • A fleet of over 400 yachts regularly will take part
  • The international fleet is made up of over 26 countries
  • Multihull course record: 1 day, 8 hours, 48 minutes (2011, Banque Populaire V)
  • Monohull course record: 1 day, 18 hours, 39 minutes (2011, Volvo 70, Abu Dhabi)
  • Largest IRC Rated boat is the 100ft (30.48m) Scallywag 100 (HKG)
  • Some of the Smallest boats in the fleet are 30 footers
  • Rolex SA has been a longstanding sponsor of the race since 2001
  • The first race was in 1925 with 7 boats. The Royal Ocean Racing Club was set up as a result

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