The lead group of 60s and the maxis are winning the race against time to the Rock. Elaine Bunting reports

French team Vincent Riou and Seb Josse are proving to be masters of the Open 60 class and are making fast progress towards the Fastnet Rock, which they should hopefully round late this evening.

But earlier today, Riou admitted to being “exhausted” after a long night of winds up to 40 knots. “We’re beaten up,” he says. “We’ve spent our time managing winds that have alternated between strong and light. Physically, we’re shattered.”

PRB heads up the class, leading from Bernard Stamm and Gwenael Riou in Cheminéees Poujoulat, while in 3rd place, Swiss husband and wife team Dominique Wavre and Michelle Paret are putting in a fantastic performance ahead of Alex Thomson and Andrew Cape on Hugo Boss.

This group, like the two maxis ahead, ICAP Leopard and Rambler, should round the Rock and face some very fast downwind sailing in north-westerlies tonight and early tomorrow. All being well, the course record could fall in this race of extremes.

The photo above by the talented Sally Collison is one of a stunning selection on her website at