It's midnight, the wind has died, the tide is about to turn against them and only one boat has finished... for the frontrunners in the Fastnet fleet, 20 miles to run is another four or five hours away
It’s midnight, the wind has died, the tide is about to turn against them and only one boat has finished… for the frontrunners in the Fastnet fleet, 20 miles to run is another four or five hours away. It’s as though the Fastnet fleet had forgotten that they should be racing, no sense of urgency and certainly inconsiderate to those in Plymouth waiting-up all night to witness their arrival! The crew of Stealth had set their sights on being the first monohull home. The aptly named 92-foot black sloop with grey sails, owned by Italian industrial magnate Giovanni Agnelli, is skippered by round the world race veteran Paul Standbridge.
However the 2 hours, 5 hours, 8 minutes and 1 second record is already beyond reach, and Stealth’s crew can forget last orders, at their current rate of progress they’ll be lucky to be back in time for breakfast! Their midnight sched reports a snail’s-pace boat speed of four knots, and at least 20 miles to run. Wind is down to 5 knots true and the 50 percent neap tide is about to turn against them. Either way, the ‘dog-watch’ gets to make landfall if they’re lucky. If the wind dies completely there is a good chance that Nicorette’s ’95 record of winning with the greatest margin could be in danger of falling into the hands of Eure et Loir.
The Volvo 60s are still some way behind locked in their own battle. Very evenly matched, News Corp, SEB, illbruck and Assa Abloy keep chopping and changing positions. Morning Glory is close on the tail of Stealth, though it is unlikely that she will get the better of her larger and quicker rival. As for the Open 60s, it is unclear where they are or whether one will muscle into Plymouth unexpectedly. It is likely that these upwind flyers took unfavourably to the windward battle to the Fastnet rock, and fared badly compared to the Volvo 60s.
All we can do is wait and see. The outlook for tomorrow (or later tonight and this morning) is for light winds and rain. Considering that some of the smaller boats are yet to round the Lizard, it could be a long, drawn-out race.
Pictured left is the winner crossing the line: Francis Joyon’s 60ft trimaran, Eure et Loir.