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Slow Fastnet finish for world's quickest trimarans
12:03pm Tuesday 13th August 2013 in Sport
The world's two fastest offshore racing trimarans had to endure the world's slowest finish in the early hours of this morning in the Rolex Fastnet Race.
Having jockeyed for the lead since leaving Cowes on Sunday, the Dona Bertarelli and Yann Guichard co-skippered Spindrift 2 was ahead past the Lizard in the early hours of this morning – only for the wind to switch off within two miles of the finish.
Even the world's largest racing trimaran, with her 47m tall wingmast, was unable to find any wind when it counted.
As she parked, with Plymouth tantalisingly near, Armel le Cleac'h and the crew of the 31.5m trimaran Banque Populaire were able to ghost in.
As the navigation lights on the French Vendée Globe hero's maxi-trimaran grew ever bigger, at one point closing to within half a mile, it looked like she might sail around Spindrift 2.
However, at the last moment, the frontrunner found the lightest zephyr to ghost across the finish line at 02.53.58 BST.
Due to the upwind and light conditions this year, Spindrift 2’s elapsed time of 38 hours 53 minutes and 58 seconds was more than six hours slower than the course record that this same boat managed in the race two years ago.
Despite being so close, it was another 22 minutes 41 seconds before Banque Populaire crossed the line.
For Dona Bertarelli this was her first ever offshore race, although the conditions at the finish were more akin to those she experienced when she won Switzerland's top yacht race, the Bol d'Or Mirabaud in 2010.
“We’re very pleased, very happy to be here because the outcome was not certain,” she said.
“We knew it would be difficult, especially with the light conditions, but we managed to manoeuvre well, keep up good speed and have the right sails up to stay ahead of Banque Populaire.”
Yann Guichard was relieved with the outcome, following the tense finish.
“We are so happy to win the first race for the team with this boat. It is not easy to manage 14 people on board, so it is great to win here.”
Guichard felt the only part which hadn't gone according to plan was when they had gone up the west side of the Traffic Separation Scheme off Land's End, while both Banque Populaire and the MOD70 Oman Air-Musandam had gone up the east side.
“We spent too much time on starboard tack and lost 10 miles there, but we were first around the Fastnet Rock and then downwind we had a battle with Banque Populaire, at the same speed, same angle - gybe, gybe, gybe...”
le Cleac'h, who has finished second in the last two Vendée Globe solo round the world races, was pleased to have arrived so close to Spindrift 2, despite his maxi-trimaran being 8.5m shorter.
“To finish 20 minutes behind is very good for our team and for our crew: we thought Spindrift would be much faster than us,” he said.
In the canting keel monohulls, Esimit Europa 2 was first monohull around the Fastnet Rock at 01:17 BST this morning, followed 38 minutes later by Lymington sailor Mike Slade's ICAP Leopard.
They are currently half way back to Bishop's Rock.
However, it is the Volvo Open 70s that lead the class.
The mostly female crew on Team SCA rounded the Fastnet Rock at 03:19, 28 minutes ahead of the Ian Walker-skippered Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing.
In addition to leading IRC Canting Keel, Team SCA - featuring Hamble’s Sam Davies – is currently an impressive third overall under IRC.
With IRC One still en route for Fastnet Rock, they are seeing the first of the breeze backing into the southwest.
As a result they are no long tacking and so the IRC One leader, still Nicolas Loday and Jean Claude Nicoleau's Grand Soleil 43, Codiam, has become the latest boat to take the overall lead under IRC rating.
Ahead of her, the 72ft Mini Maxis in IRC Zero have rounded Fastnet Rock with Hap Fauth's Bella Mente passing 65 minutes ahead of Niklas Zennström's Ran 2.
Bella Mente continues to lead the big monohull class on handicap.
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