'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