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Fastnet 2009

Aug 09, 2009 10 Comments by

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Greetings yachties,

Seems you have found my Fastnet ’09 story. If you have any random imges of the race you would like to share in this story-send ’em in.

Happy Sailing.

7) Fastnet Rock (10) []

Photo from NZL_Spindrift SOL

RAN 2 CONFIRMED OVERALL WINNER OF THE 2009 ROLEX FASTNET RACE

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Photo credit: Rolex /   Carlo Borlenghi

2009 Rolex Fastnet Race overall winner,RAN from Niklas Zennstrom

August 13, 2009

This afternoon the Royal Ocean Racing Club, organisers of the biennial British 608-mile classic offshore race, confirmed that Niklas Zennström’s Ran 2 is the overall handicap winner of the 2009 Rolex Fastnet Race.

Zennström’s Judel-Vrolijk designed 72-footer finished the race in an elapsed time of 63 hours, 1 minute and 33 seconds, which corrected out to 2 hours, 19 minutes ahead of the second-placed Italian America’s Cup team Luna Rossa on board their STP65.

“It is fantastic, we are very excited about it,” commented Zennström. “But it was also a gradual thing, because as we crossed the finish line we knew we had a good result. We had monitored some of the boats behind us, most notably Luna Rossa and Rosebud, which we thought were always going to be the closest competitors to us. And after we came in we spent the morning and actually the whole day yesterday monitoring the updates on the RORC’s OC Tracker and made our own calculations about the likelihoods for the other boats to catch up with us.”

Having failed to complete the last Rolex Fastnet Race, in 2007, the victory for Ran 2 was unfinished business. That race, sailed on board Zennström’s Marten 49, had been the first occasion that the present Ran crew had sailed together. Led by Volvo Ocean Race veteran Tim Powell, the all-star line-up includes seasoned race boat navigator Steve Hayles and America’s Cup sailors such as Adrian Stead and Emirates Team New Zealand’s Andy Hemmings, Richard Bouzaid and Richard Meacham.

Zennström launched his new 72-footer earlier this year, raced it at several events in the Mediterranean, including the Giraglia Rolex Cup, before it was shipped back to the UK, to compete in the Rolex Fastnet Race. “One of the key objectives when we were building Ran 2 was to be able to do offshore races, and the most obvious race we put on the calendar was the Rolex Fastnet Race. So it is great we have done so well in it.” Zennström explains.

This year they have also won the Swedish equivalent of the Rolex Fastnet Race, the Gotland Runt, aboard their previous Ran, a modified TP52.

“I think it is a really strong team,” concludes Zennström. “We have been sailing together for two years now and the team is getting stronger and stronger. We have been very thorough in our planning, both in terms of the design of the boat and our race preparations.”

Skipper Tim Powell was equally ecstatic about their Rolex Fastnet Race win: “Obviously it is a big achievement being such a prestigious race and one of the classics.” He adds that they had prepared well, believing some way in advance that a major part of the race would be upwind and, with Ran 2 being very powerful and fast upwind, they stood a reasonable chance. “We were focusing more on our class and the boats around us a lot more. But to have won the thing overall is an awesome achievement.”

Ran 2 did especially well outbound down the English Channel and by the key tidal gate at Start Point, they had pulled out a 10 mile lead over their Mini Maxi rivals. “That first 20 hours up the Channel was all important, tactically and navigationally, and as a crew we sailed very, very well,” says Powell.

Eddie Warden-Owen, CEO of the Royal Ocean Racing Club, says that this year’s Rolex Fastnet Race did favour the larger boats. “If you think that we’ve had spring tides, and really light winds, one of the big gains that the big boats made was on the first night when they came to Portland Bill and they were able to make the tide. You could see on the tracker that those who had managed to make it away from Portland Bill had a huge advantage, whereas the others were stopped and some had to put their anchor down. So the story of the race in many respects ended there, but we didn’t know which big boat was going to win.”

The opportunity for the smaller boats to win fizzled over the last 24 hours when windier conditions that might have provided them with a fast finish to make up for their deficit, caused by missing the tide at Portland Bill on the first night, failed to materialise.

“Ran sailed really well against the opposition and it is a well-deserved victory,” concluded Warden-Owen. “It is a young crew of British guys on the boat, even though it is owned by a Swede and they are very experienced America’s Cup and Volvo Ocean Race sailors. So, a good effort.”

At the end of this afternoon, 59 boats of 300 starters had reached Plymouth and berthed in Sutton Harbour in the heart of the Devonshire city. The latest arrivals included the first to finish in IRC Class 1, Nicolas Loday and Jean-Claude Nicoleau’s Grand Soleil 43, Codiam.

At present La Floresta Del Mar, Amanda Hartley’s Swan 56 can’t be beaten in IRC Z, having finished at 03:24 GMT this morning. While Codiam remains first on handicap in IRC 1, Marc Alperovitch and Jérome Huillard’s A-35 Prime Time is leading in IRC 2 and at 15:00 had just passed the Lizard with 43 miles left to go to the finish. Finally, Fabrice Amedeo’s X-332 Bateaux Mouches du Pont de l’Alma remains first in IRC 3, with 15 miles left to go to Bishop Rock. The majority of the fleet have now rounded the Fastnet Rock with the backmarker, the Bristol Channel pilot cutter, Morwenna, midway across the Celtic Sea with just over one third of the race course completed.

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Photo credit: Rolex /   Carlo Borlenghi

STREAMING INTO PLYMOUTH

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August 13, 2009

This morning, the tally of arrivals on the Rolex Fastnet Race is up to 43 after a busy night with the leading boats in the Class 40 and Zero fleets arriving.

Making possibly the best entrance last night was Robert Lutener and Martin Elwood’s IRC-optimised TP52, Cutting Edge. She crossed the finish line off Plymouth breakwater at 2100, at the same time as the British Fireworks Championship lit up Plymouth Sound.

“We had 20 knots reaching into Plymouth, just about made it past the breakwater to be greeted by 10,000 people. We got cheered coming in. We felt like proper rock stars,” recounted crewman James Grant, for whom this was his first Rolex Fastnet Race and first race longer than about 10 hours.

For an inshore sailor like Grant, the Rolex Fastnet Race was an unusual experience, including, for the Cutting Edge crew, anchoring for six hours off Portland Bill to await the tide to turn. Their boat was originally Patches, a one time Rolex TP52 Global Championship winner, and built for round the cans races. However some offshore optimisation remains to be done, as in the seaway the crew found themselves having to bail 14 buckets of water every hour.

“And all our instruments went down,” continued Grant. “Averaging 16-17 knots and broaching in the pitch black with the waves getting bigger and bigger in the Irish Sea – I was pretty scared at times to be honest. And we saw porpoises and pilot whales. That might sound romantic, but it was fantastic. In all, it was awesome, amazing experience.”

Two slawarts of British yachting arrived shortly after dawn. Former Commodore of the Royal Ocean Racing Club, David Aisher, finished at 04:23:20 GMT on board Yeoman XXXII, 32nd boat home and just ahead of Richard Matthews’ Oystercatcher XXVI. On handicap Yeoman is currently 12th, while Oystercatcher is fourth in IRC Z.

Yeoman had got off to a fantastic start, until they fell into a large wind hole off Lymington. They then went too close in to Portland Bill and were forced to anchor for around 40 minutes, although Aisher says it ended up costing them more like 90 minutes .

Unconventionally, en route up to the Fastnet rock, Yeoman went to the west of the Scillies rather than between the Scillies and Land’s End. “It is just where we were at the time with the tide,” explained Aisher. “We were going out from the Lizard and the wind was such that it was due to lift us and when it lifted us we just stayed on the wind and came up round outside the Scillies. If we had flicked over and gone inside we wouldn’t have got the long lift and we would have been fighting the tide through the gap, so we just went out and round.”

Racing on Oystercatcher was former America’s Cup helmsman Andy Green, who says he wishes they had gone outside of the Scilly Isles. “It would have been a big call, but we don’t have particularly advanced routing software.”

Of their Rolex Fastnet Race Green commented: “We had a great time and I think we did alright. It was not too heavy at any point. It was reasonably windy to the rock, nothing out of the ordinary, nothing more than 20 knots, on the wind, and tiller steering, so you know about it after three hours. Then downwind from the rock, we were doing 12-14 knots all the way home, and in a 42-footer that is pretty good going. We didn’t make too many mistakes and we had a good time. It was great.” Like Yeoman they had to anchor for around an hour.

The major competition that concluded shortly after dawn this morning was that of the Class 40s. In the end, Tanguy de LaMotte’s Initiatives Saveurs – Novedia Group managed to maintain her advantage from yesterday to take first place, de LaMotte sailing three up with Liz Wardley and Guillaume Lebrec.

De LaMotte arrived at 03:59:30 GMT, just over two hours ahead of Italian Giovanni Soldini’s Telecom Italia, scoring his best Class 40 result to date. “It was quite a big race, there are a lot of boats and it was very close between the top three at least. I was third in the Quebec-St Malo and I had a third with Liz on a doublehanded race and now a win ahead of the top guys. So I am looking forward to the Class 40 Worlds next week.”

Soldini says Telecom Italia came into her element yesterday in the slightly stronger downwind conditions to Bishop Rock and on to the finish and during this time caught up to within five miles of the leader. At the Lizard, shortly before the finish, they tried to coax the French boat inshore. “We tried to make some ‘gybes’ – you never know! – we were doing some suicide gybes! But he didn’t fall for it,” said Soldini.

Portimao Global Ocean Race winner, Boris Herrmann and his Beluga Racer came home third, just nine minutes after Telecom Italia.

“We never sailed together before and we knew the boat very little compared to the first and second placed boat, so we can be very happy with the result,” commented Herrmann. They had been slow to get out of the Solent, but were one of the few boats that managed to pick up places sailing along the south coast of the UK, moving up to second by day two, neck and neck with the leader. “After six hours side by side eating 50m out of him, we got in front, so it was a really exciting day with a lot of trimming and steering. But suddenly a sail slipped from the deck into the water and it was our very important Code Zero. So we made a crash gybe and got it back out of the water, but lost 250m and it took about six hours to get it back!”

Under handicap, Niklas Zennstrom’s J-V72 Ran 2 is looking favourite for an overall win under IRC, while Amanda Hartley’s Spanish-registered Swan 56 La Floresta Del Mar is looking equally strong in Class Zero, almost 90 minutes ahead of Piet Vroon’s Tonnerre de Breskens. French boats continue to lead the smaller classes. Yet to finish, Codiam still leads Class 1, while Marc Alperovitch’s A-35 Prime Time has taken over first place in Class 2 and Fabrice Amedeo’s X-332 Bateaux Mouches du Pont de l’Alma is ahead in Class 3.

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Fastnet 2009 sans logo

HEADING HOME

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Photo credit: Rolex /   Carlo Borlenghi

A steady influx of boats has continued to stream into Sutton Harbour in Plymouth’s historic Barbican quarter today, the first finishers in the 2009 Rolex Fastnet Race. At the end of the afternoon, 17 boats have arrived including eight IMOCA 60s led by Sebastien Josse’s BT IMOCA 60s, and including Volvo Ocean Race winner Mike Sanderson’s Team Pindar, home in seventh place and fourth in the IMOCA 60 class.

“We have amazingly tight racing between quite different boats if you saw them lined up on the dock,” commented Sanderson upon his arrival. “Seb Josse and Vincent Riou [former Vendee Globe winner, sailing on Akena Verandas] are incredibly experienced singlehanded sailors. I knew as soon as they were with us at Fastnet Rock that we were going to struggle.”

According to Sanderson he lost distance on the leaders en route back to Bishop Rock from the Fastnet when he didn’t direct Team Pindar far enough north. “North of the rhumb line was pretty advantageous. You saw Safran gain a lot there and Aviva lost a lot on the outside of us. So I need to learn my lessons and believe in the routing.”

This was Sanderson’s fifth Rolex Fastnet Race, his previous races on board boats like the maxis New Zealand Endeavour and Sayonara and the Volvo Ocean 60 Merit Cup. Otherwise it had turned out to be a challenging race, much better than the forecast had indicated before the start. “We always love some breezy reaching stuff in Open 60 world. A 600 mile windward-leeward isn’t ideal for these boats but it was great, even though the course wasn’t great for us to blast along.” His blue IMOCA 60, designed by Juan Kouyoudmjian, who also penned ABN AMRO ONE, his 2005-6 Volvo Ocean Race winner, is in the process of being sold but Sanderson hopes to remain involved with the boat when it transfers to its new owner.

While ICAP Leopard scored the elapsed time win for a second consecutive time, the all-important handicap victory is looking increasingly like it will go to Niklas Zennström’s immaculately sailed 72 footer, Ran 2. Plymouth sailor Nigel Passmore and his IRC-optimised TP52 Apollo looked vaguely hopeful, but as the latest arrival their elapsed time corrected out to 3 hours 18 minutes outside of Ran 2’s corrected time of 4 days 2 hours and 30 minutes. This left Apollo fourth overall with the two STP65s Luna Rossa and Rosebud/Team DYT between them and the race leader.

Aside from the handicap win, one of the toughest competitions remaining on the water is going on in the Class 40 fleet where, once again, French shorthanded sailor Tanguy de LaMotte is leading aboard his Initiatives Saveurs – Novedia Group. At 1600 GMT his blue and white Class 40 was rounding Bishop Rock.

“Once we got around the Fastnet, we’ve been pretty quick,” commented round the world sailor, Liz Wardley, competing on board. Mid-afternoon they were “hooning along” in 15-22 knots of westerly breeze and relatively flat seas. Wardley reckoned the wind would veer to the northwest tonight and drop as they approached Plymouth tomorrow morning.

Having won the Transat and most recently the Les Sables-Horta-Les Sables race, here on the Rolex Fastnet Race, Italian Giovanni Soldini is in the unusual position of not leading the Class 40 fleet. However, relishing the big broad reaching conditions, his boat has been closing in on the leader. From 13 miles behind this morning, late afternoon he has closed to within six miles. According to Soldini, the reason for catching up today has purely been one of his powerful boat preferring the stronger conditions.

The reason why Soldini is in catch-up mode is partly due to snaring a net around his yacht’s keel bulb off the Lizard. “That was very bad for us,” said Soldini. “We’ll see if we can catch up Tanguy, but it is very difficult. We are catching up slowly, but I don’t think it will be enough. So we need to hope for some tactical opportunity.”

Among the large luxury rides that have reached Sutton Harbour is the well-appointed Performance Yacht 100, Liara, belonging to Tony Todd. Among the benefits of sailing on board this New Zealand-built super yacht has been the opportunity to shower and eat cordon-bleu food and a chance to delve into their extensive DVD collection, where we understand Bad Boys II was the favourite of the trip in the quieter moments.

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Mike Sanderson, Antonio Marrai, Eddie Warden Owen and Francesco de Angelis

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Photo credit: Rolex /  James Boyd

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Photo credit: Rolex /   Carlo Borlenghi

Fastnet 2009 sans logo

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Artemis Ocean Racing 2nd IMOCA 60 To Finish in Rolex Fastnet Race

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Artemis Ocean Racing skipper Samantha Davies, co-skipper Sidney Gavignet and crew, Graham ‘Gringo’ Tourell and Gareth Rowley, crossed the finish line of the classic Rolex Fastnet race at 0615 BST this morning (Wednesday, 12.8.09) to finish 2nd overall in the IMOCA 60 class.

The 608-mile race took Artemis Ocean Racing 2 days, 18 hours, 15 minutes and 41 seconds and the crew can take the utmost satisfaction in finishing less than an hour and a half after the winning IMOCA 60, BT.
Artemis ocean racing, rolex fastnet race 2009
“I think tactically we sailed the right route in terms of the wind and sailing round the coast – I don’t think we could have done anything more than we did,” said Sam at the finish. “I’m quite proud of our track on the chart and it’s encouraging but a bit frustrating at the same time not to be able to stay in touch with them in the lighter downwind stuff. It’s been pretty tiring, the sprints always are, and I probably need to go and sleep for 24 hours!

“I thought they [BT] had got away from us more because the tide turned against us at the Lizard so they shut the door very firmly behind them! I knew it was impossible to get back at them.”

Since the start of the Rolex Fastnet race on Sunday, 9th August at 1200 BST, Artemis Ocean Racing has been jousting for the lead. In the light downwind conditions out of the Solent, Artemis Ocean Racing and BT dominated at the front, then overnight Dee Cafarri’s AVIVA became their sparring partner. By 1000 BST on Monday (10.8.09) Artemis Ocean Racing had firmly taken the lead at Lizard Point, by which time they were pounding upwind in 20 knots as the boat enjoyed the robust westerly conditions.
Sam davies & sidney gavignet, rolex fastnet race
Sam and the crew led all the way across the Irish Sea and were the first IMOCA 60 to round the legendary Fastnet Rock at 0800 BST yesterday morning (Tuesday 11.8.09) but only 10 minutes ahead of the French duo onboard BT. Inevitably, the lighter and narrower BT overhauled Artemis Ocean Racing on this fast broad reaching leg and the crew had relinquished their lead at the 1500 BST positions. They rounded Bishops Rock in the early evening and turned east for the final 100-mile downwind stretch to the finish line off Plymouth with still everything to play for as less than 13 miles separated the two boats. That lead had been reduced to just 6 miles at 0500 BST this morning but BT held them at bay to take the finish line. Nonetheless, Sam and the crew were ecstatic with their result.
Sam davies & sidney gavignet, rolex fastnet race
This has been an outstanding performance for Sam and Sidney in their first real test since Artemis Ocean Racing underwent an extensive weight-reducing refit and ahead of the two-handed Transat Jacques Vabre race in November.  Considering the short number of hours that Sam and Sidney have had to sail together and acquaint themselves with the boat, their result is even more encouraging.

“I think between the two of us we have done a lot of sailing in the last year or so. Having done the Round Britain record on AVIVA that got me back on my toes, and sailing Roxy for over 2 years in Vendée Globe mode, has been a good build-up to stepping onboard Artemis. I wasn’t too worried about joining a new boat and learning how it works. Obviously, we’re learning a lot and there is still plenty to do.  We need to try and improve the performance in the areas where we’re lacking a little bit at the moment.  It’s encouraging though because we know where we need to work and we’ve learnt a lot in the last two and a half days. Now we are going to sail back with the designers and start making a plan on what to do with the boat both on and off the water in the next two months,” explained Sam. “We will take the boat to France at the end of August and that will be our TJV 1,000 mile qualifier – we will sail a big loop on the way down to Concarneau – and then we will be based in France sailing with the squad in Port La Foret.”

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Seen here racing around the world

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The Fastnet podium is wide open for Class 40

After three days of racing in the Rolex Fastnet Race, both of the Portimão Global Ocean Race Class 40s, Beluga Racer and Desafio Cabo de Hornos, have rounded Fastnet Rock and are sailing downwind towards Land’s End and the finish line in Plymouth.

At 0200 UTC this morning (12/08), Boris Herrmann and his team on Beluga Racer rounded the famous lighthouse off the southern tip of Ireland just five miles behind the leading Class 40, Tanguy de Lamotte on Initiative Saveurs – Novedia Group, with Giovanni Soldini’s team on Telecom Italia in hot pursuit in third place, nine miles ahead of the fourth place Red, the German Class 40 of Mathias Muellar von Blumencron.

At first light this morning, the Chilean team on Desafio Cabo de Hornos rounded Fastnet Rock in tenth place, 43 miles behind the lead boat. “The dawn was like something from a Celtic legend,” reports the skipper, Felipe Cubillos. “Very thick fog and we couldn’t see the lighthouse until we were just under 1,000 metres from the rock, although we could hear the light’s fog horn for the last four miles of our approach.”

Holding a mid-fleet position is not a great situation for the Chilean team and their losses to the leaders began at mid-morning on Tuesday. “We were five miles behind the lead boat at Land’s End and now we are nearly 50 miles behind,” explains Cubillos. “The boats north of us and closer to the coast at Land’s End and the class leader further south than us pulled away from us on both sides as we were stuck in calm conditions in the middle,” he continues. “It’s not ideal and there aren’t many tactical calls available before the finish,” admits Cubillos.

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FIRST ARRIVALS

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Photo credit: Rolex /   Carlo Borlenghi

August 12, 2009

Property developer Mike Slade’s ICAP Leopard secured a second consecutive line honours victory in the Rolex Fastnet Race in the early hours of this morning. With the mixed conditions the 100ft super-maxi was considerably behind the course record she set two years ago. Arriving at the Plymouth breakwater finish line at 00:09:36 GMT, her elapsed time on this occasion was 2 days 11 hours 9 minutes and 36 seconds, compared to 1 day 20 hours 18 minutes and 53 seconds in 2007.

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According to Ran 2 navigator Steve Hayles, they ended up arriving in Plymouth three hours earlier than he had anticipated yesterday. After the distance between the front runners compressed as they reached Bishop Rock, he says it was not the wind speed but the direction that saved them on the final run home. “It stayed a bit more westerly and it didn’t go around to the north, so we didn’t have all the issues of trying to get under the land. We ended up running down in here.” They then got less foul tide passing the Lizard, extending their lead over the boats astern.

This morning the lead boats in IRC Class Z have been rounding the Fastnet Rock, with the majority of the fleet still crossing the Celtic Sea outbound. Under handicap, Piet Vroon’s new Ker 46, Tonnerre de Breskens has taken the lead in IRC Z and is now most of the way back to Bishop Rock. French boats continue to dominate the small handicap classes. The Grand Soleil 43 Codiam remains in front of Class 1, having rounded the rock at 0300 GMT. Just short of the rock, the A35 Prime Time has taken over first place in Class 2, while the Dufour 34 Major Tom is still first in Class 3.

Finish times:
1) ICAP Leopard, Mike Slade (GBR) – 00:09:36 GMT
2) Beau Geste, Karl Kwok (HK) – 03:25:03
3) BT IMOCA 60, Sebastien Josse (FRA) – 04:00:15
4) Ran 2, Niklas Zennström (SWE) – 04:01:33
5) Artemis Ocean Racing, Sam Davies (UK) and Sidney Gavignet (FRA) – 05:15:41
6) Safran, Marc Guillemot (FRA) – 05:56:18
7) Team Pindar, Mike Sanderson (NZ) – 06:15:42
8) Aviva, Dee Caffari (UK) – 06:57:13
9) Luna Rossa, Flavio Flavini (ITA) – 07:01:54
10) Rosebud Team DYT, Roger Sturgeon (USA) – 07:45:37
11) Akena Verandas, Arnaud Boissières (FRA) – 08:34:51

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From Sam Davies 1330BST:

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“We are all really happy but it was just a quiet sense of achievement on board because the race is not over yet. Although, it’s great and we’re all really proud of being round each mark in first place, it is the finish that counts and everyone is really focused on that.

Gareth rowley, artemis ocean racing“We’ve got a lot more wind than we expected and it’s a lot further south, so instead of running dead downwind, we are actually on one quite fast broad reach under spinnaker and we’ve got all the advantages of Artemis’ righting moment helping us. That’s also helping us stay in front of BT as well, although it’s a great match as they are not far behind us and right on our line. We’re watching them and trying to match our speed to theirs. We’re trying to pull ahead when we can so we’ve got something in the bag when it goes light after the Scillies. We can’t see the whites of their eyes but we can see them! We saw them have a little wipe out earlier because it’s pretty on the edge sailing but they are sailing really well with just two of them on board.
Artemis ocean racing, rolex fastnet race 2009
“I do think they [AVIVA] will come back… I guess that’s the advantage of being behind as they picked up a new wind shift right away to head straight for the mark, so they will probably make a small gain out of that if the wind continues in this direction.

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CLOSING IN ON THE LEOPARD

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Photo credit: Rolex / Kurt Arrigo
August 11, 2009

The ‘when will they arrive?’ lottery has begun this afternoon in sunny Sutton Harbour, the new arrival point for the Rolex Fastnet Race in Plymouth.

While a line honours victory for Mike Slade’s 100ft super-maxi ICAP Leopard might seem obvious, the brand new Hong Kong 80-footer Beau Geste of Karl Kwok is closing on them. At 03:00 GMT this morning they were 35 miles behind and by 14:00GMT were only 24 miles astern. Over the course of the late morning and early afternoon the smaller boat was occasionally sailing three knots faster down the course.

The reason, according to round the world race veteran, Steve Hayles, navigator on Niklas Zennström’s Ran 2, is that the boats astern of ICAP Leopard have enjoyed stronger wind from the northwest. “This breeze built from behind, it came down from the Fastnet Rock, so it has been a bad bit of timing for them. It was just unfortunate. We have more headed breeze and more of it. But to be honest we are suffering the same thing with the two STP65s behind us. We feel pretty happy with what we have done. We have stopped the rot here recently.”

Hayles says they are expecting the wind to veer towards the north in the next six to ten hours and to go light. “The breeze is going to drop below ten knots for sure. We will go around Bishop Rock at about 18:00 GMT. The last 90 miles to the finish, the routing has us doing it in nine hours, but my own thinking is that it is going to take 14.” So a breakfast time arrival in Plymouth. Significantly, and regardless of the slow finish, Hayles is quietly confident of Ran 2 winning under IRC handicap, which she is leading at present.

The IMOCA 60s still remain in contention, with BT IMOCA 60 around 22 miles astern of Beau Geste. Despite being sailed doublehanded, this afternoon she has overtaken the fully-crewed Artemis Ocean Racing. The first IMOCA 60s are expected home tomorrow mid-morning.

Since yesterday the cycle of the wind has changed phase and while en route from Land’s End to the Fastnet Rock yesterday, the fastest boats were heading north awaiting a shift to get them west; today the bulk of the fleet has been heading west waiting for a shift to get them north. Some of the outbound boats have even taken the unorthodox approach of going to the west of the Scilly Isles, rather than the conventional shorter course to their east. Many have been heading so far west that the faster boats returning from the Rock, have seen them coming the opposite way. “Earlier this morning we saw several. I am surprised to see quite so many – it is a pretty aggressive punt out to the west for those boats,” said Hayles.

One of the boats heading out west was Tanguy de LaMotte’s Initiatives Saveurs-Novedia Group, the new leader in the Class 40. According to Papua New Guinean round the world sailor Liz Wardley who is sailing on board, they were obliged to dive so heavily west because of the wind direction. “We had a huge lift on starboard, more than we expected and so we really had to wait for a huge knock before we could tack over. So yes, we are quite far west.” They finally tacked back to the north at around midday.

“We are hoping the wind is going to lift us a little bit more, so we can make the Fastnet in one tack, because we are 10 degrees low,” continued Wardley, adding that at around 15:30 GMT they had 16-17 knots from the west, with the wind building the further north they sailed.

Further behind, Katie Miller and Hannah Jenner, two-handed on Miller’s Beneteau Figaro 2, Hot Socks, were enjoying the conditions off Land’s End. There the wind was southwest and Miller was hoping that it wouldn’t build as they are unable to use their water ballast at present since the pump “has just died”.

They are recovering from a difficult first night when they had to make two attempts to anchor off Portland Bill in 45m of water. If getting the anchor down was a problem, getting it up for the two of them was even harder, the operation taking more than 45 minutes. “We are going to be muscle women by the time we get back,” commented Miller, who says that the Rolex Fastnet Race is personally proving to be as tough as the singlehanded transatlantic race she completed recently. “The race is so short compared to the Atlantic that you are constantly pushing the boat as hard as you can, so you almost sleep less than you would on your own.”

In terms of the handicap standings, little has changed since this morning in the larger classes where Ran 2 remains ahead in Class SZ. La Floresta del Mar leads Class Z three quarters of the way towards the Fastnet Rock, while Codiam is first in IRC 1, half way to the Rock. However Mike Moxley’s HOD35 Malice has taken over the lead in Class 2, despite a large dig out to the west , with David Lees’ High Tension 36, Hephzibah ahead in Class 3, the latter 10 miles northwest of the Scilly Isles.

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Photo credit: Rolex / Kurt Arrigo

FIRST AROUND THE FASTNET ROCK

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Photo credit: Rolex /   Carlo Borlenghi
August 11, 2009

At 00:26 GMT this morning Mike Slade’s 100ft supermaxi ICAP Leopard was the first boat in the 2009 Rolex Fastnet Race to round the Fastnet Rock off the coast of southwestern Ireland. In a 10-15 knot westerly breeze, Karl Kwok’s Farr 80 Beau Geste passed at approximately 04:44 GMT, followed by the IRC Class SZ leader on handicap, Niklas Zennström’s Judel-Vrolijk 72 Ran 2 at 05:08 GMT. Behind them were a gaggle of boats led by the first two IMOCA 60s, Sam Davies and Sidney Gavignet on the fully-crewed Artemis Ocean Racing, ten minutes ahead of Seb Josse’s BT IMOCA 60, the first doublehanded entry in the Rolex Fastnet Race.

Behind them at 08:00 GMT, en route to the Pantaenius buoy, the offset mark southwest of the Fastnet lighthouse, were two more IMOCA 60s, Volvo Ocean Race winner Mike Sanderson on Pindar, just ahead of Frenchman Marc Guillemot on Safran. The Italian America’s Cup team on the STP65 Luna Rossa rounded later, at 07:54 GMT, having suffered slightly by approaching the Fastnet Rock from a more northerly angle.

At the time, the Italians had Dee Caffari’s IMOCA 60 Aviva on their tail. Earlier Caffari reported: “We had more breeze than we anticipated overnight which means we will be rounding the Fastnet Rock just in time for breakfast. We have sight of at least four other IMOCA 60s showing just how close this race is.” Roger Sturgeon’s US entry, the STP65 Rosebud/Team DYT was expected at the Fastnet Rock an hour after Aviva.

The forecast is showing an area of high pressure encroaching on the southwest of the British Isles over the course of today. In order to remain in the strongest breeze, ICAP Leopard has taken a radical northerly route towards Bishops Rock, the next mark of the course, located to the west of the Scilly Isles, 150 miles southeast of the Fastnet. While Slade’s super-maxi is on a heading taking her towards the Bristol Channel, Beau Geste and Ran 2 are sticking closer to the rhumb line. With conflicting forecasts it remains to be seen which will be the better tactic – Slade’s approach is longer but should ensure they stay in breeze, the direct route is more risky, but shorter.

This morning the bulk of the Rolex Fastnet Race fleet are between the Lizard and one third of the way across the Celtic Sea towards the Fastnet Rock. Midway to the Rock, the Jamie Olazabal-skippered Swan 56 La Floresta Del Mar is still leading in Class IRC Z, while the three small IRC Classes all have French handicap leaders: the Grand Soleil 43 Codiam in IRC 1, while Didier Darbot’s Sphinx 33 Parsifal still leads IRC 2 and is located just to the north of the Scilly Isles, just ahead of Fabrice Tropes’s Dufour 34, Major Tom, the new IRC 3 leader.

Depending upon her progress today, ICAP Leopard is expected in Plymouth late this evening.

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Photos credit: Rolex /   Carlo Borlenghi

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BOUND FOR THE ROCK

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Photo credit: Rolex / Kurt Arrigo
August 10, 2009

After a tricky first night at sea, the mid-fleet in the Rolex Fastnet Race have experienced a rainy grey day at sea as they slog upwind westward along the English south coast.

As expected the big boats have broken away with Mike Slade’s 100-foot supermaxi ICAP Leopard, rounding Land’s End at around 0930 GMT and by 1500 she was halfway to the Fastnet Rock turning mark.

“It is a nice sunny day outside here, it could be a lot worse,” commented Slade, adding that the sea was flattening out after a bumpy ride up the Channel. Since rounding Lands End, with the wind from the west, ICAP Leopard, as well as the boats chasing her, have headed on a more northerly course, compared to the direct route to the Fastnet Rock.

As Volvo Ocean Race navigator Simon Fisher explained from on board Team Pindar, third placed in the Open 60 fleet and 41 miles from Slade’s race leader: “Big picture, the wind is going to come around to the northwest eventually. So we are off to the right in the hope that we have a nice shift, while trying to get into the best position relative to the other boats around us, in order to make the most of that.” The question for the boats presently mid-Celtic Sea is when the wind will veer from the west to the northwest and if they can lay the Rock in one tack when this shift comes.

At 1500 GMT, ICAP Leopard was just 25 miles ahead of Karl Kwok’s Farr 80 Beau Geste and 34 miles ahead of Niklas Zennstrom’s Judel-Vrolijk 72, Ran 2.

“We expect the breeze to come down a little bit, particularly once we have rounding the rock and are heading back. So, we have to be careful we don’t fall in a hole,” Slade continued. “But the boat is loving this bouncy stuff. We are going at 11.75-12 knots doing about 42deg TWA, and we are enjoying ourselves. I am looking forward to a beer in Plymouth, but I will have to wait a day and a half I have the feeling!” To date the most wind ICAP Leopard has seen is 22 knots.

Despite her length advantage, even ICAP Leopard experienced a hard time last night as she negotiated the English Channel. “The hardest part was the sloppy seas and light air in Lyme Bay, and trying to avoid being sucked up north at Start Point or into Plymouth Bay, and trying to get down around the Lizard. Ray Davies and Hugh Agnew have done a great job and have kept us out of trouble,” said Slade. ICAP Leopard’s ETA at the Fastnet Rock is expected to be 0100GMT.

Slade believes that this year the Rolex Fastnet Race will favour the small boats as was the case in 2005. “The breeze is going to fill in behind us once we are round the Rock. It looks like it will fill in for the next day and half to two days and it will bring the small boats in on handicap.”

Behind, the leading Open 60s are doing well to stay in contact with the larger Mini Maxis. Sam Davies and Sidney Gavignet on board Artemis Ocean Racing continue to lead, but with less than four miles separating her from Marc Guillemot’s Safran and Pindar. Their ETA at the Fastnet Rock is around 0500-0600 GMT tomorrow morning. Some such as Alex Thomson’s Hugo Boss have not been so fortunate – Thomson’s black boat some 47 miles behind the leaders at 1600.

The Open 60s also suffered last night. “It was very light and very shifty with the pressure coming from here and there, it was a question of trying to position ourselves in the best place to take advantage of all the puffs and shifts,” said Simon Fisher. “It was very tricky and hard for us as well because we are in one of the most powerful boats, but that is part of the package.” Pindar was never completely becalmed, but there were some slow moments and their competitors who went inshore, suffered horribly.

Among the smaller Class 40s, last night was make or break according to how rapidly you could overcome the foul tide. When the wind shut down Initiatives Saveurs-Novedia Group was one of a mass of boats that were forced to deploy their anchor to prevent themselves behind sluiced east back up the course by the tide.

“Just before Portland Bill, we had to anchor in 45m of depth, but only for half an hour – the wind kicked in again, so it was not too bad,” recounted French skipper Tanguy de LaMotte. De LaMotte reckons it was a lot worse for others. “The guys who were inshore had really big trouble to get wind and they had to wait for longer. So I think that is where we got up front.” At 1600 off Falmouth, Initiatives Saveurs-Novedia Group was third among the Class 40s, with German Boris Herrmann’s new Beluga Racer neck and neck for the lead with Conquerants de Normandie – Bovis Lend Lease Italy.

De LaMotte says the most wind they have seen has been 20 knots and it has been constantly upwind, not particularly taxing and okay for getting sleep.

Typically the larger boats were affected less last night off Portland Bill. From the US, Bryon Ehrhart’s TP52 Lucky, took the option to head offshore out of the worst of the current, but suffered more longer term. “We weren’t sure where our competition was,” said skipper Rodney Hagebols, adding that thanks to their offshore tactics, they didn’t have to anchor. “Today was the first boat that we have seen, an OD48. All the other boats were inshore and we went for the new breeze.”

At the end of this afternoon Lucky had rounded the Lizard but was well behind Nigel Passmore’s TP52 Apollo, but ahead of the other TP52s John Merricks II and Cutting Edge.

Under handicap, Niklas Zennstrom’s Ran 2 was leading IRC SZ, while Jamie Olazabal’s Spanish Swan 56 La Floresta del Mar was just past the Lizard at the front of Class IRC Z. Half way between Start Point and the Lizard, Cyrille Legloahec’s A40RC Batistyl was leading IRC 1 with Didier Dardot’s Sphinx 33 Parsifal ahead in IRC 2, just past Plymouth, and just south of the IRC 3 handicap leader, Bateaux Mouches du Pont de l’Alma, the X-332 of France’s Fabrice Amedeo.

The forecast shows the wind veering to the northwest across the race course tonight and continuing to veer north and lighten by tomorrow morning.

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Photo credit: Rolex / Kurt Arrigo

CONDITIONS COME GOOD FOR SPINNAKER START

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Photo credit: Rolex /   Carlo Borlenghi
August 9, 2009

Morning dockside rumours of delays and divisions of boats having to kedge on the start line were roundly proven wrong as the Rolex Fastnet Race fleet, as well as spectators along the Cowes shoreline, enjoyed a magnificent, colourful spinnaker start. Thankfully the unfavourable forecast for the start – no wind followed by a south westerly filling in from the west – had not panned out, with instead a welcome 10 knots from the east propelling the 300 strong fleet westwards down the Solent.

First away, punching into the last of the flood tide, were the IMOCA 60s. With their ‘big gear’ unfurled seconds before the start, it was Dee Caffari’s Aviva that made the most positive start towards the pin end. However she was soon overhauled by Seb Josse on BT IMOCA 60 sailing in slightly better breeze on the island side of the course. By the 1430GMT position report, the leading IMOCA 60s were already halfway across Christchurch Bay with Mike Sanderson’s Pindar leading, narrowly ahead of Aviva, BT and Arnaud Boissieres’ Akena Verandas.

With the tide having turned favourable to flush the remaining classes west, it was the small IRC classes that were next up . By the 1430 update they too were out through the Needles, with David Lees’ High Tension 36 Hephzibah leading from the 2005 Rolex Fastnet Race winner Iromiguy, Jean-Yves Chateau’s Nicholson 33 in IRC 3B, just ahead of David Collins’ Swan 43 Cisne, leader in IRC 3A.

For the boats heading west down the Solent, the transition to the south westerly breeze occurred for most off Yarmouth resulting in a short lull before they were put hard on the wind. Fortunately the boats were driven west towards the new breeze by the tide.

With the largest boats catching up the smaller ones, Christchurch Bay was becoming grid-locked mid-afternoon, with the IRC 2 leaders David McLeman’s J/109 Offbeat and David Walter’s J/39 Jackdaw having cruised most of the way through the Class 3 fleet, as had Jacques Pelletier’s X-43 L’Ange de Milon and Andrew Jackson’s First 40.7 Genie, leading their respective halves of IRC 1.

Despite having started an hour later than the IRC 3 boats, even the IRC Zero fleet had caught up, with John Shepherd’s Ker 46 Fair Do’s VII leading on the water from Jack Pringle’s Farr 45 Fraxious.

In their planning of the starts, the Royal Ocean Racing Club had left the best to last. On schedule at 1440 BST, it was the turn of the Class 40s to take their start with the breeze still from the east. Here it was the two Verdier designs, Giovanni Soldini’s Telecom Italia and the Felippe Cubillos’ Chilean yacht Desafio Cabo de Hornos which made the best starts. By the time they exited the Solent Soldini was tied for the lead with Andrew Dawson’s Spliff and Mike West’s Kerlaria. Five to six miles short of St Alban’s Head, at 1600GMT Tanguy de LaMotte reported from the Class 40 Initiatives Saveurs – Novedia Group that they were upwind, albeit port tack favoured, and that having put in a few tacks to get offshore they were making 5-6 knots, but the wind was slowly dying on them.

Finally there came the biggest boats in the fleet, led off the line by Mike Slade’s towering Rolex Fastnet Race record holder, the 100ft super-maxi, ICAP Leopard. Luna Rossa, with Flavio Flavini helming and Volvo Ocean Race winner Torben Grael on tactics, followed in their wake with Niklas Zennstrom’s Ran 2 leading Karl Kwok’s Farr 80, Beau Geste up the mainland side.

By the 1500 update, ICAP Leopard had already pulled ahead of all the IRC boats with only the IMOCA 60s ahead of her on the water. Among the Mini Maxis Beau Geste, thanks to her longer waterline length, had pulled ahead of Ran 2 and the STP65s Luna Rossa and Rosebud/Team DYT, although probably not enough to lead on corrected time.

Prior to the start America’s Cup helmsman and Beau Geste skipper Gavin Brady, for whom this is his third Rolex Fastnet Race, said that they were still on a “steep learning curve phase” with their newly launched boat. “We have had the opportunity to do three races this week which was good for us to learn the boat, but it is never fun, when you have a brand new boat, to look at the scoreboard at the end of it. So we know from on board the boat that we have a lot more speed to get out of it, but like any new boat at the moment there is a long list of things to do to get there. If the Rolex Fastnet Race was in one month’s time we’d be a lot better off.”

Like the other Mini Maxis, Beau Geste has a very strong crew including former Luna Rossa helmsman Francesco de Angelis and from Volvo Ocean Race winner Ericsson 4, New Zealanders David Endean and Phil Jameson.

In the Rolex Fastnet Race, Beau Geste has the second highest IRC rating, to ICAP Leopard, but given the newness of the boat Brady felt it unlikely they would be nipping at heels of ‘the big cat’. “We are very respectful of the fact that they are 100-foot long with a canting keel. ICAP Leopard would have to have a pretty bad race and we’d have to have an extraordinary good race to beat them; but this race has seen strange things before and you have to navigate the Celtic Sea and the currents. I think we have an outside shot, but the rating tells the story: they owe us seven minutes an hour.”

The 2009 Rolex Fastnet Race could well be decided this evening as the wind drops and the majority of the fleet struggle to make it around Portland Bill without having to kedge.

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Photo credit: Rolex /   Carlo Borlenghi

Two handed Division

One of the strongest sub-divisions of the Rolex Fastnet Race fleet are the two handed, twenty eight boats sailing just two up. The 2007 winners in the class, Simon Curwen and Paul Peggs, both former Mini Transat competitors, aboard Curwen’s J/105, Voador, made a strong start in Class 2, alone in gybing early towards the island side.

Many will be following up-and-coming British solo sailing star Katie Miller, freshly returned from the singlehanded transatlantic race in her Beneteau Figaro 2, Hot Socks, which she is racing two handed in Class 1 with fellow solo sailor Hannah Jenner. Miller very nearly didn’t make the Rolex Fastnet Race start when some delamination was discovered in Hot Socks’ keel structure. Her boat was only relaunched yesterday thanks to some 11th hour assistance by Endeavour Quay in Gosport.

Despite the last minute panic, Miller was looking forward to a light wind race. “Last year the only IRC race I won my class in was when we had a really light crossing going to Cherbourg. So a bit of light upwind conditions to the Fastnet and some stronger downwind conditions back to Plymouth – that should work well for us.”

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Photo credit: Rolex /   Carlo Borlenghi

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Photo credit: Rolex /   Carlo Borlenghi

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Photo credit: Rolex /  Kurt Arrigo

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Good Start for Artemis Ocean Racing in 2009 Rolex Fastnet

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Artemis ocean racing, rolex fastnet race 2009
In a light north-easterly 5-7 knot breeze and hazy sunshine, Artemis Ocean Racing started the 2009 Rolex Fastnet race at 1200 BST crossing the Royal Yacht Squadron start line off Cowes. The Rolex Fastnet race is a bi-annual highlight on the offshore racing calendar – the 608-mile course is tackled by both professional racers and amateur cruisers – and thousands of spectators lined the island shoreline to watch the start. The 2009 edition of the race marks the 30th anniversary since the tragic 1979 race that saw 15 sailors lose their lives in horrendous storm force conditions.
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Sam davies, artemis ocean racing, rolex fastnet 2009
Skipper Samantha Davies and her crew, including co-skipper Sidney Gavignet, boat captain, Graham Tourell and Gareth Rowley, made the tactical decision to start close to the Cowes shoreline as opposed to their nine IMOCA 60 rivals who chose the northern-most end of the line. Their tactic to take advantage of an ebbing tide close to shore, along with the right sail choice for the downwind start, paid off well and within minutes Artemis Ocean Racing was up with the frontrunners heading west out of the Solent followed by hundreds of spectator boats. Ten miles into the race and Artemis Ocean Racing were ranked 2nd in the IMOCA 60 class, behind Sébastien Josse on BT at the 1300 BST positions, and ahead of her teammate Artemis The Profit Hunter, racing with a crew of talented youth sailors skippered by Simon Clay, who were third. By the official 1600hr rankings, Artemis Ocean Racing was leading the fleet.

The weather conditions for this race are looking fairly moderate as Sam explained before the start: “The forecast is predominantly light for today, around 7-9 knots until midnight, then it should start to build as we head towards Lands End and we might see 17-20 knots. It will start dropping at the ‘rock’ and decreasing as we head back across the Irish Sea. We hope to be finished by Wednesday evening.”
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Right now the weather models are quite different but Sam and Sidney were expecting to be on a long starboard tack out to mid-Channel before tacking around dawn tomorrow as the breeze shifts slightly to the south of west and heading back in towards the Lizard Peninsular. After the landmarks of the Lizard and Lands End (ETA Monday evening) it is upward in 10-12 knots all the way to the Fastnet Rock (ETA Tuesday late afternoon). After the ‘rock’ it will be fairly good downwind conditions to the Bishop Rock lighthouse at the Scilly Isles (ETA 1000hrs Wednesday) and then continuing downwind to the finish line at Plymouth (ETA Wednesday 2100hrs).

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INTERNATIONAL SAILING STARS GEAR UP FOR CHALLENGING CLASSIC

August 8, 2009

Since it was first run in 1925, the Royal Ocean Racing Club’s biennial Rolex Fastnet Race has earned a reputation for being one of the toughest events in the international yacht racing calendar. This has come about from the brutal conditions it can occasionally throw at competitors, as well as the complexity of the race course. Over the 608 mile long course, crews must negotiate tidal gates off the numerous headlands along the English south coast, as well as the open ocean as they cross the Celtic Sea to the Fastnet Rock, 10.8 nautical miles off the coast of southwest Ireland, before returning around the outside (west side) of the Scilly Isles to the finish in Plymouth.

The Rolex Fastnet Race this year has attracted A-list sailors from around the world, and the strongest international line-up of grand prix race yachts amongst the 300 boats setting sail from Cowes tomorrow, Sunday 9th August. Peppered throughout the fleet are stars from the America’s Cup, plus the Volvo Ocean Race and Vendee Globe round the world races.

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RACING TO A BETTER FUTURE

Mayflower Marina, located in Plymouth, is supporting charity Toe in the Water as it strives to re-inspire injured service personnel from all over the UK to see beyond their injuries, through the use of competitive sailing.

Competitive sailing is a physically and mentally challenging sport which provides a unique opportunity for injured servicemen and women to race on equal terms with, and against, their able-bodied competitors.

The charity, which was formed in July 2008, has just celebrated its first birthday at the annual Cowes Week Regatta and will be heading down the coast to compete in the Dartmouth Town Regatta on August 25th. The boat they will be entering has been loaned by the Army Sailing Association, whose own race team will be taking part in the 2009 Rolex Fastnet which departs on the 9th of August.

Once the Army Race team has completed the renowned race, the boat will berth in Mayflower Marina, free of charge, for ten days, making full use of the marina’s new £2.5m facilities. The team, which includes service men and women from all over the country, will undergo vigorous training before racing in the Dartmouth Town Regatta on the 24th August

Charles Bush, managing director of Mayflower Marina, commented: “Toe in the Water is a really worth-while charity and we are pleased to be supporting it in any way we can. Many of the team here at Mayflower are ex-service personnel so it is definitely a cause close to our hearts. We will keep our fingers crossed that both teams do well in the Fastnet and the Dartmouth Regatta.”

Lloyd Hamilton, Director of Racing for Toe in the Water, added: “It is the hugely generous support of organisations like Mayflower Marina that make what we do possible. Being able to use competitive sailing, which we all love, to re-inspire the guys who have done so much for us is fantastic. It is great that Mayflower Marina can berth us and, as a new charity, we are hugely grateful for and continue to be overwhelmed by the support from the marine and professional racing circuit.”

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10 Responses to “Fastnet 2009”

  1. Transat AG2R says:

    Transat AG2R…

    Transat AG2R 2010 La Mondiale : le site d\’Henri-Paul Schipman et Pierre Canevet est en ligne. Suivez chaque jour leurs billets transmis depuis leur bateau par satellite….

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