Tuesday, August 13, 2013

The Slow Road To Plymouth - Rolex Fastnet Race Update

Esimit Europa 2, the 100-ft Maxi skippered by Jochen Schümann, is set to claim monohull line honours at the 2013 Rolex Fastnet Race.
Esimit Europa 2 Photo: Rolex/Kurt Arrigo
At 17:00 BST she was 85-nm from the finish line in Plymouth, with the crew reporting an ETA of 01:00 BST Wednesday morning. In the prevailing light conditions, Esimit Europa 2 has a natural advantage over her nearest rival, Mike Slade’s heavier ICAP Leopard (GBR) and consequently throughout the day has been able to build what looks like an insurmountable lead. It currently stands at 20-nm.
Team SCA Photo: Rolex/Kurt Arrigo
Volvo 70 Team SCA (SWE) is making good progress on the heels ofICAP Leopard currently finding itself in a strong position with the IRC rating system taken into account. “Since the Fastnet Rock we have been pushing into this lighter stuff,” reported Team SCA’s Brad Jackson. “The boats behind us keep coming at us but we eventually hit some breeze and keep getting away. We’ll keep trying to do that for a while.”
Photo: Rolex/Daniel Forster
Among the chasing pack is Bella Mente who continues to prevail in the clash between the two 72-ft Mini Maxis. Hap Fauth’s American crew rounded the Fastnet Rock at dawn this morning and, despite having to repair a broken mainsheet, the crew were in good spirits, reporting:

“It was the first time some of us have seen the Rock, which is pretty cool. Rán 2 rounded the Rock a good distance behind us so we need to build on that lead a bit more for the anticipated light air finish.” Rán 2’s slow passage around the Rock bordered on tedium. “All this hard work for a small rock in the [Celtic] Sea!,” they jokingly blogged. “After rounding the Rock we are racing back towards Plymouth hopefully with more wind.” Bella Mentecontinues to enjoy a 5-nm advantage, 140-nm to finish.

The bulk of the 336-strong fleet is still en-route to the Fastnet Rock, the 611-nm race’s emblematic halfway point. It is proving a highly tactical, challenging race with numerous wind shifts to respond to. Crews are having to strategically manage their resources with many long hours at sea still forecast. 

Andrew Pearce’s Ker 40 Magnum 3 (GBR) currently 10-nm from the Rock reported: “Last night was much colder, although the increased fatigue probably played a part. We are reduced to a three-watch system of two hours instead of three in order to make sure a fresh watch is always on deck. Nevertheless, the relentless pace and difficult conditions mean tiredness is relatively inescapable.”

A sentiment likely to be felt throughout the fleet as they head into a third long night. At 17:00 BST, 29 yachts had rounded the Fastnet Rock. To date, there have been eight retirements.

Reminder: At 02.53.58 BST this morning, Dona Bertarelli and Yann Guichard’s Spindrift 2 crossed the finish line in Plymouth as the fastest multihull yacht at the 2013 Rolex Fastnet Race. The fleet’s largest yacht at 131-ft completed the course in an elapsed time of 38 hours, 53 minutes and 58 seconds following a painfully slow crawl into Plymouth.Banque Populaire finished second on the water 20 minutes behind.

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