The 98ft maxi yacht Konica Minolta Zana takes line honours in BMW Round Ireland Yacht Race 6/7/06

Shortly before 2100 last night, Stuart Thwaites’ 98ft Konica Minolta Zana from Wellington, New Zealand crossed the finishing-line at Wicklow Sailing Club to take line honours in the BMW Round Ireland Yacht Race.

After four days and almost five hours at sea, headwinds tracked the fleet leader for the entire 704-mile course and denied the super-maxi either the course or race record.

Depending on breeze over the next 24 hours, Konica Minolta may emerge winner of Class Super Zero though the latest forecast calls for freshening weather to arrive from the south-west overnight which could aid the remaining big boats still racing.

“We tried to push all the headlands rather than go 100 miles offshore to hunt for breeze and we did see 25 knots at one stage,” said navigator Steve Hayles. “The last stage (south down the Irish Sea) was frustrating but all in all, it was awesome and I really enjoyed it.”

The course record remains at 57 hours set in 2005 by JP Chomette on City Jet Solune of France, while Colm Barrington’s 1998 race record of 76 hours and 23 minutes is also unbeaten.

Currently, 36 boats remain at sea racing and the next group of boats are expected to finish from mid-day on Thursday while it is likely to be Saturday before the overall winner can be confirmed.