Franco Manzoli sailed Cotonella over the finish line early this morning to win the Faraday Mill OSTAR

At 0441 local time Newport (09.41 UK) this morning Franco Manzoli sailed Cotonella over the finish line to win the Faraday Mill OSTAR 2005, completing the course in 18 days, 21 hours, 41 minutes.

As the now familiar sight of Cotonella’s mainsail sporting the underwear lady and the bow appeared through the darkness, it was a delighted, but slightly surprised Franco who waved at the race committee who had set out to welcome him in the early hours. As he crossed the line at a good speed in the light airs he was quite unaware he had won and the first question he put to the race committee, was: “How many others are in.”

For virtually the entire race, Cotonella has been in third place behind Spirit and the long time leader Branec IV. But, Manzoli, who chose early to sail a northerly course, has for the last week been able to maintain an almost direct line towards Newport. Whilst his rivals at the front, Branec IV and Spirit, drove south hoping to pick up better winds for a reach to the finish, the Italian and his ‘underwear boat’, benefited from sticking to his course over the closing stages having wind on his stern all the way to the line.

Before he reached dry land, speaking from on board the 40ft trimaran which looked in perfect condition after 3,000 miles of ocean racing race officials, Franco said: “I’m absolutely delighted, for the last day I had no idea I was in the lead. I stuck to my course and the wind has been good to me. In the last 24 hours I’ve had a 200-mile run with the wind on my stern, quite unlike the early part of the race.”

Franco also told the race committee that the first two weeks had been very tough, headwinds and big seas had made being on the multihull akin to working, eating and sleeping on a cross-country motorbike.

The race office is now on standby for the two other leaders who are expected in later today.