Franck Cammas and Charles Caudrelier take the Rolex Fastnet Race line honours and set a new race record on Maxi Edmond de Rothschild - with less than 60 seconds dividing the Ultimes on the finish line

Before the start of this year’s Rolex Fastnet Race it was far from clear that the race record for the 603-mile bluewater classic would be in any danger, with predominantly light winds forecast for the larger boats. However, the 100ft Ultime trimarans put on a spectacular finish in Plymouth this afternoon as Maxi Edmond de Rothschild pipped Macif by just 58 seconds on the finish line, both Ultimes also smashing the race record.

Volvo Ocean Race winners Charles Caudrelier and Franck Cammas took Multihull line honours in just 1d 4h 2m 26s, beating Loick Peyron and the crew of Banque Populaire’s 2011 time by 4h 45m.

Francois Gbart and Jimmy Spithill on Macif had led the race since rounding the Fastnet Rock earlier this morning, but were beaten in the final approach to the line by the Gitana team on Maxi Edmond de Rothschild.

Article continues below…

Maxi Edmond de Rothschild‘s skipper Franck Cammas commented: “Just after they gybed onto the layline for the finish we crossed them and decided to overlay. It was our last chance to see if there was something still possible. But until five minutes before we finished we never thought it was possible!”

Macif skipper Francois Gabart, the reigning Vendée Globe winner and single-handed round the world record holder, added: “They gybed a little bit outside of us and I was thinking ‘it looks like they’re in a good position’. Plus they were going really fast downwind and even at the Lizard I was thinking ‘it’s going to be tough to keep them behind’.

“After the last gybe they were two miles away and we were between them and the finish so it looked good for us. But they were able to fly while we had a problem with our rake system and we couldn’t adjust it…”

The two giant Ultimes enjoyed some of the closest racing this embryonic development class has yet seen, never more than four miles apart throughout the race. The light winds transition zone which halted much of the fleet yesterday evening proved little handicap to the foiling trimarans, who covered each other to hold a northern route along the English coastline.

The two giant trimarans crossed the finish line just seconds apart

Cammas explained: “Before the start we wanted to go north, but after the start we got a new forecast which showed that the south was better. In fact Macif gybed north and we hesitated but then decided to stay with them, because we wanted to race them. In fact on the northern route the faster you were the better it was. We were faster than our routing in the first bit because there was more wind, and faster than the polars because it was flat water.”

Winning trimaran Maxi Edmond de Rothschild did not have an entirely smooth race: they went aground on the Shingles Bank at 25 knots while leading the Ultimes out of the Solent, destroying the tip of a daggerboard. They also hooked a large fish around their daggerboard shortly after passing the Fastnet Rock, which required them to back down to disentangle themselves, which allowed Macif past.

For double America’s Cup winner Jimmy Spithill on Macif, the race was his Fastnet debut, after standing in for the injured Pascal Bidegorry.

Spithill commented after finishing: “That was my first Fastnet. It was quick – I probably won’t ever do it quicker than that!

“The power of these boats is incredible because they are big machines. With other foiling boats your limit is waves but with these, because of their scale and the shape of the foils, you can push them hard.”

Sodebo Ultim 3, Sail no: FRA73, Class: Open Multihull, Owner: Thomas Coville, Sailed by: Thomas Coville, Type: Ultim 32/23

Thomas Coville’s new Sodebo Ultim 3 finished in 3rd place, 1h 24m after the leader.

The race is now on for the monohull line honours, with the first boats expected into Plymouth early tomorrow morning. First around the Rock this afternoon was Rambler 88, with the monohull frontrunners rounded the Rock in 25-30 knots, the strongest south-westerly breeze seen so far in this race.