Giovanni’s Agnelli’s 92ft sloop Stealth has arrived in Plymouth at the end of her first Fastnet race, taking monohull line honours 19 hours after the 60ft trimaran Eure et Loir finished
The sleek, all black, 92ft Stealth spirited herself across the line in Plymouth at 0359 this morning – at least so we are told, the fog and darkness swallowed the boat whole. She was expected 2200 yesterday but the high pressure has snuffed out much of the wind in the Channel and slowed her final approach.
Under her master, Whitbread and America’s Cup veteran Paul Standbridge, Stealth took 2d 10h 58m 58s to complete the course. Standbridge was frustrated to arrive five hours outside the record having taken six hours to cover the last 10-12 miles. An extra five knots of breeze could have brought her the record as well as line honours.
Dennis Conner’s Stars & Stripes helmsman Kenny Read was also disappointed to miss out on the record but enjoyed the race and foresaw a revival of offshore racing. “If we had kept any semblance of a breeze we would have broken the record. This is my third Fastnet and I’ll tell you what, at times it was really, really fun. There was hardly any time to sleep, there was always another tactical decision. I think the trend is leaning back to distance races. The windward/leeward scene is all burned out.”
Even as late as the Scillies, Standbridge and his crew believed the record was within their grasp but, like Standbridge’s 1985 Fastnet on the Whitbread maxi Atlantic Privateer, the final stages took far longer than expected. “By the Lizard, we were parked and dodging the tide,” said Standbridge. “And, in the poor visibility, we saw no-one after Poole Bay. It was like the old days, just racing alone.”
That said, to come within five hours of the race monohull record without hoisting a spinnaker once is no mean feat. Stealth is very fast.
The race organisers are expecting Hasso Plattner’s 80ft Morning Glory, helmed by Dean Barker and crewed by Team New Zealand, and Ludde Ingvall’s 79ft Nicorette with Shirley Robertson onboard. After those two, the VO60s are expected but their progress early this morning was very slow because of adverse tide but the 35-mile stretch too the finish should see them home early this afternoon.
Out on the track, 75 percent of the fleet has yet to round the Fastnet Rock, 240 miles from the finish, but this morning’s 12-15 knot southwesterly should sweep most of the competitors round the Rock today.