Monday, August 31, 2009

Snails Pace For Rolex Fastnet Race

J/133 JIVARO Wins IRC 0-B
(Cowes/ Plymouth, England- August 9th-12th)-  While the previous Rolex Fastnet Race is remembered for the course record time being demolished, the only record broken in this year's running of the Royal Ocean Racing Club's biennial 608 nautical-mile classic was one relating to competitor patience, as light winds at the start and end, combined with powerful spring tides, made for a 'tactically challenging' race, and one of the longest in recent years.

Running from Cowes to Plymouth via the Fastnet Rock off southwest Ireland, the race again proved it remains one of the world's most prestigious offshore yacht races. The 300-boat entry limit was reached quickly, attracting boats from a wide spread of nations. The bulk came from the UK and France, but there were potent entries from the USA, Hong Kong, Ireland, Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands and others coming from afar afield as Chile and Australia.
Although the doomsayers were forecasting no wind for the start, in the end it could not have turned out better with an easterly wind forcing spinnakers to be hoisted in all eight classes - a magnificent colourful spectacle for competitors and the spectators crowding the Cowes seafront, alike. All was good, with the tide shooting the boats west in the early part of Sunday afternoon. Then the wind shut down at the Western extremity of the Solent, with particular abruptness on the mainland shore. After this first roll of the dice, a new south-westerly breeze filled in gently, but with insufficient strength to power the majority of the fleet past Portland Bill on the first night.
Portland Bill was probably the defining moment of the race, with most of the big boats managing to make it past before the tide turned foul. The majority were forced to set their anchor and kedge, typically for an hour or so, but in some instances for up to six hours, to prevent themselves being ripped back east.  While the early stages looked to be favouring the big boats, they by no means had it all their own way. The wind remained on the nose down the Channel, then inconveniently veering northwest causing them to remain upwind while crossing the Celtic Sea towards the Fastnet Rock.
In the sixty boat IRC Class 0-B the J/133 JIVARO sailed by Yves Grosjean from France won its class and just ahead of him is another J/133, the well-campaigned BATFISH III raced by Bill Blain and crew from England that fought hard at the last few turns into Portsmouth Harbor to finish fourth.  A fellow J/133 JAMMY DODGER raced by Neil Martin from England had been a front runner for much of the race but a few zigs which should've been zags cost them some places, dropping them to a well-earned sixth overall in the perplexing conditions.

The J/122s were racing in the twenty three boat IRC Class 1-A and European/French favorite PEN AZEN raced by avid campaigner Philipe Delaporte fought hard towards the end of the race to salvage a well-earned fifth overall and the J/122 NUTMEG IV sailed by fellow Frenchman Francois Lognone finished a well-deserved third overall!

A remarkably consistent season led to a strong performances by the team on board  David Walters' J/39 JACKDAW.  In the thirty boat IRC Class 2-A they've taken advantage of the shifting, light air conditions to win their class overall!  Job well done David and crew!

The thirty boat Doublehanded Class has Simon Curwen's J/105 VOADOR as top J in seventh overall followed by Richard Palmer's J/109 JANGADA TOO in eighth and just down the ladder was Martin & Johnston's J/105 DIABLO-J.  For more info.