Max Klink's Botin 52, Caro has been declared winner of the 2023 Rolex Fastnet Race, the 50th edition of the event after a big breeze start on Saturday

Max Klink’s Botin 52, Caro, has officially been declared the winner of the Rolex Fastnet Race 2023, with the announcement coming early afternoon on Wednesday 26th July.

“This is a legendary group of sailors who I have been fortunate to sail with for a few years now,” said Swiss owner, Klink, “but when we set out on this race I never expected that we could win. It’s a dream come true, and all the more special that this is the 50th edition of such an iconic race.

“The first 12 hours we were just in survival mode, trying not to break anything, trying to keep the boat at 100 per cent. I wasn’t thinking about any title or trophy, it was just about getting through the conditions.”

Tactician aboard Caro for the race, Adrian Stead – himself a two-time winner previously with Niklas Zennström’s Rán – added: “Conditions were pretty extreme and to the west of Portland we found ourselves all sitting in the cockpit and sailing at 5-6 knots just to get through, just to make sure we didn’t break the boat.”

The team lost their wind instruments in those early moments and so had to complete the majority of the course without a significant amount of their instrumentation. But having weathered the early conditions well otherwise, they proved very quick, particularly after rounding the Fastnet Rock.

Stead admits they had the dream run back from the Isles of Scilly. “We pretty much straightlined it all the way and we realised we had a very good shot at winning IRC Zero so pulled out all the stops, got out some extra chocolate bars and had everyone hiking hard on the rail for the last few hours into the finish.

“We were fortunate how the weather worked out for us, but I think we did a great job of preparation and keeping ourselves in the game for as long as possible and we are so pleased how it all paid off.”

The Caro team had practised the start and all the way out to the Fairway Buoy on the Wednesday before the race start, with similar current and in 25 knots in order to ensure that they were acclimatised to the course start, and the conditions expected.

Caro crossed the finish line at 06:25:02 on Tuesday 25th July giving them a total race time of 2 days 16 hours 40minutes and 2 seconds. But they faced a long wait for confirmation of their win with the bulk of the fleet still out on the water and with several boats still hypothetically in contention.

However, the outlook was positive for the eventual winners as the wind dropped off for the fleets behind, particularly on Tuesday afternoon and evening when conditions turned very light, particularly in the English Channel.

Caro closing in on the Rolex Fastnet Race finish/ Photo: Paul Wyeth / RORC

Caro had already been declared winner of IRC Zero on Tuesday, so all eyes were on the slower fleets to see who might challenge. The wind was forecast to build again from the south-west overnight on Tuesday and during the course of the day on Wednesday 26 July, which potentially could have seen some of the smallest boats coming home in faster conditions towards the finish.

But, though the breeze did increase (and the forecast looks for much more wind and rain later on Wednesday night) the build did not come early enough for the smaller boats to put up any real challenge for the win.

“Max is a great owner, he’s got a fantastic team with a really well prepared boat and those are all the boxes you need to tick for a race like the Fastnet,” Stead concluded.

The winning crew on Caro are: William Parker, Wade Morgan, Ryan Godfrey, Justin Ferris, Jono Swain, James Paterson, Harry Hall, Cian Guilfoyle, Andrew McCorquodale, Andy Green, Adrian Stead and owner Max Klink.

Follow all our 2023 Rolex Fastnet Race coverage

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