With the brisk north wind holding its strength and more off Cornwall to speed the leading Fastnet Race finishers comfortably on the direct course to the line at Plymouth through the night, automatic predictions of final results based on performance in the preceding but slower stages of the race are inevitably of only limited value writes W M Nixon.
George David’s Rambler 88 achieved her ambition of finishing before midnight on Tuesday in some style, as she was in by 22:14hrs last night, and was in port in solitary glory for nearly four hours before the Australian Supermaxi cqs (Ludde Ingvall) crossed at 03:08 this morning. The experimental cqs posed no problems to Rambler’s hold on the IRC win overall, while the next boat in Paul Meilhat’s IMOCA 60 SMA at 03:24 was likewise no threat, as she is not in the IRC Division.
However, she’d sailed a brilliant race, and within the nine-strong IMOCA 60 class was in a league of her own, with more than an hour in hand on the second finisher, Jean-Pierre Dick’s Stmichel-virbac.
The first successful challenge to Rambler 88 was in by 03:41. This was Tom Brewer’s JV 115 Nikata, the biggest boat in the race, but rating quite significantly lower than Rambler 88. Nikata had been very well sailed. But it’s worth noting that to complete the 605 mile race, she sailed a total distance of only 689 miles. Yet Rambler 88, leading the fleet on the water but dealing with increasingly different wind situations to Nikata further back, had covered a time-consuming 730 miles by the time she got to Plymouth.
With other boats now pouring in, Rambler was rapidly slipping down the leaderboard, and she is currently in 13th overall,, while Nikata has gone down to 7th. Class placings are acquiring increasing prominence, and while SMA was deservedly celebrating a high achiever win in the IMOCA 60s with an hour’s gap, the new Volvo 65s had a cracker of a race, true One-Design stuff with Dongfeng Race Team getting there just one minute ahead of Mapfre, while Team Brunel was only six minutes after that.
The leaderboard in IRC overall of those with the race completed has been undergoing regular changes since Rambler first got there, and with four boats home and dry, the leader-in-dock is the German Ker 56 Varuna (Jens Kellinsgshausen), with Nikata second, but there can be celebration in Ireland, as third place of those with the race done is currently held by Mikey Ferguson campaigning the no-longer-in-class IMOCA 60 Artemis Ocean Racing – he finished ahead of Rambler on corrected time, and though he’d sailed an exceptionally good race, it gives us some indication on how the IMOCA 60s might have shown against the fleet in open competition.
Ferguson had put up a good challenge against Hugo Boss (Alex Thomson & Nin OLeary), which did indeed show some very impressive bursts of foil-assisted speed on her way back from being last official IMOCA 60s to round the Fastnet yesterday afternoon, but she was still in 8th place – only one class place gained - when she finished in Plynouth at 06:52 this morning, just 12 minutes ahead of the old de-classed war horse Artemis.
We mentioned in one of yesterday’s reports that in most classic offshore races, at some stage a Cookson 50 is going to appear out of the woodwork and start giving everyone a hard time. The American Cookson 50 Privateer (Ron O’Hanley) is continuing with the starring role first manifested at Lizard Point while still outward bound. In fact, the IRC numbers board is currently showing that Privateer will become the overall IRC leader when she finishes around 1030 this morning in solitary glory in best Cookson 50 style, but just how long she’ll hold that lead with an Armada of other craft heading towards Plymouth at a very fast rate of knots remains to be seen.
The huge fleet is now spread out to an absurd degree, with boats relaxing in comfort in port while far to the northwest, many small craft are still bashing along – albeit in easing winds away out there in the ocean - to reach the Fastnet Rock. Our RORC Commodore Michael Boyd is well round, however, and he currently lies 20th overall in the First 4.7 Lisa, which has him second in IRC 2.
The lads from Donegal in the RP 45 Katsu (Alan Hannon, skipper Richie Fearon) are currently showing next best, but in a changing situation they’re back in 29th overall, while early leader Pomeroy Swan (Swan 44, Paul Kavanagh) has slipped to 45th.
The Irish National sailing School’s J/109 Jedi has the Fastnet Rock well astern, but in the softer winds now out there she’s on 6.9 knots towards Plymouth, and while 11th in IRC 3, is 58th in IRC overall. But she still looking very much a contender for the Roger Justice trophy for sailing schools, although there are some much larger boats in this specialist division, and in a big boat race Jedi will do well to hang in there.
As to the trans-Channel J/109 Mojito (Peter Dunlop & Vicky Cox) she is close ahead of Jedi, and is 8th in IRC 3 and 54th overall.