Light winds forgotten – big grins and tight finishes as the 2015 Rolex Fastnet Race competitors cross the finishing line in Plymouth.
Battling for line honours in the Royal Ocean Racing Club’s Rolex Fastnet Race continued all the way to the Plymouth finishing line last night in both the maxi-multihull and monohull divisions.
The giant trimaran crossed the line at 22:57:41 BST in an elapsed time of two days 10 hours 57 minutes and 41 seconds, more than a day outside of her own record, set in the 2011 race.
“It was a fantastic race, quite difficult from the start to the end,” said Bertarelli. “The wind was quite light and not really made for this type of boat. We are the biggest, but we are also the heaviest. All day today we were neck and neck with Prince de Bretagne, which kept on coming back into us.”
Spindrift 2, the world’s fastest offshore race boat, was only completely becalmed on one occasion as she was passing the TSS by the Scilly Isles in this generally ultra-light weight Rolex Fastnet Race. Bertarelli described it:
“We had the gennaker glued to the mast and we didn’t know where the wind was coming from and we could see Prince de Bretagne coming closer and closer. It was scary…”
Honours for Comanche, moral victory for Rambler 88
The monohull line honours battle was similar to the multihull one with a dominant boat – Jim Clark and Kristy Hinze Clark’s giant 100 footer Comanche – finding it tough to shake off a persistent opponent, in her case George David’s Rambler 88.
Ultimately their race went to the wire with Comanche arriving at the line off Plymouth Breakwater four and a half minutes ahead.
“It was a classic finish to what will become a not-so-classic Rolex Fastnet Race,” recounted Comanche skipper Ken Read. “It was honestly one of the most bizarre races I’ve ever been in in my life – starts and stops and people being left behind for dead and then all of a sudden they are sailing around you – it was phenomenal.”
Rambler 88 owner George David was more than satisfied by the performance of his smaller boat against the mighty Comanche, finishing six hours ahead on corrected time under IRC.
He said this year’s race was different from his last two, which were both heavy in 25 knot winds and added: “this was just placid all the way. It took us forever to get around the Rock. But coming down from there was a great sail, a beautiful day, 8-9 knots and it was nice coming up the Channel last night. We had a good time. The boat worked well and we had a good result.”
Pre-race, both Comanche and Rambler 88 were re-moded for light winds. Comanche sailed with four fewer crew than normal, whereas Rambler 88 shed just one but removed her radical side foils that David says typically turbo charge the boat’s speed in 18+ knots of wind. They also raced with no spinnakers – all combining into a substantial reduction in their IRC rating.
Like all of the maxi monohulls, Rambler 88 parked up at the Rock and David reckoned they travelled just 10 miles on the tide in five hours.
A sombre moment
In the race four years ago George David and his partner Wendy Touton came very close to losing their lives when their previous boat, Rambler 100, lost its keel shortly after rounding the Fastnet Rock. They and three other crew became separated from the upturned hull of their boat but shortly before dusk were eventually rescued.
“We had a moment of silence at 5:40 in the afternoon on Monday, which would have been the time that we flipped over at the Rock. It was dramatic moment,” said David sombrely.