Banque Populaire and Gitana 11 around the Rock

Banque Populaire blazing a trail around the Rolex Fastnet Race course

Monday August 15th 2011, Author: James Boyd, Location: United Kingdom

The two largest trimarans in the record-sized Rolex Fastnet Race rounded the Fastnet Rock off southwest Ireland at around 0930 this morning.

As expected Loick Peyron’s Maxi Banque Populaire was leading, but surprisingly just eight miles ahead of the Seb Josse-skippered Gitana 11, despite the latter being just 77ft compared to Maxi Banque Populaire’s monstrous 140ft. Maxi Banque Populaire rounded at 09:21:25, Gitana 11 at 09:38:18 followed by the first of the two MOD 70s, Steve Ravussin's Race For Water at 10:50:00 BST.

Last night both boats, along with the two MOD70 trimaran Veolia Environnement and Race for Water, overstood the Scilly Isles, in order to lay the Fastnet Rock in one tack and take advantage of a small left hand windshift while crossing the Celtic Sea between the Cornish coast and the south of Ireland. The reason Gitana 11 is so close is that after leaving the Scillies to starboard she tacked north for the Rock earlier than her larger rival, sailing a substantially shorter course as a result.

At the time the two on the water leaders round the Fastnet Rock this morning, the wind had dropped to 10 knots from the west southwest and the sea state had abated.

Meanwhile the heavyweight bout between the 100ft supermaxi monohulls, the crew on Mike Slade’s ICAP Leopard (GBR) are doing a fine job fending off the persistent attack of American George David’s faster Rambler 100 (USA). The two boats passed between the Scilly Isles and Land’s End at 0630 BST this morning but there were a large group of powerful boats nipping at their heels.

The three Volvo Open 70s passed between Land’s End and the Scilly Isles at around 0830 BST this morning and Mike Sanderson’s Team Sanya (CHN) had pulled off a similar move to Gitana 11 in tacking northwest earlier than her two rivals and this was enough to give her an 8 mile lead on her rivals, the Ian Walker-skipper Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing (UAE) and Franck Cammas’ Groupama 4 (FRA). However closest to the two supermaxis as they head out across the Celtic Sea was the Farr 80 Beau Geste (HKG), skippered by American Jim Swartz, just two miles ahead of Team Sanya at the latest update this morning.

However looking good on handicap in IRC Z was Niklas Zennström’s J-V 72 Rán, winner of the 2009 Rolex Fastnet Race, that was taking a similar westerly track to Abu Dhabi and Groupama 4, just four miles ahead of her.

This morning the bulk of IRCZ are rounding the Lizard, off the south of Cornwall, while IRC 1 is still mid-way between the Lizard and Start Point with Colin Buffin’s Swan 62 Uxorious IV (GBR) leading on the water.

IRC2 is close behind IRC1 with the trio of RORC Commodore Andrew McIrvine’s First 40 La Réponse, Neil Kipling’s J/122 Joopster and Samuel Prietz’s A-40 Vitaris Reponse leading the charge on the water.

Like IRC2, the majority of the IRC3 fleet were tacking a long tack out into the Channel. Alexandre Desprez’s Gibsea 414 Plus, Geronimo 2 was leading on the water. The leaders in IRC4 were also mid-way between Start Point and the Lizard with Harry Heijst’s S&S41 Winsome ahead on the water.

Overnight there have been a few more retirements. Aboard Nick Gale’s Sigma 38 Zanzara in IRC4 a crewman was lifted off with a broken leg at 0745 this morning. Zanzara is retiring into Weymouth. Meanwhile Richard Palmer’s J/109 Jangada Too in IRC 4 is retiring into Plymouth with electrical problems.

The weather situation remains complex with a compact depression to the west of Ireland, a substantially larger depression over Iceland and an area of high pressure over the Bay of Biscay. For those venturing across the Celtic Sea the movement of the small depression as it passes eastward across Ireland tonight and the passage of the two fronts accompanying it will be the dominant weather. The shift from the southwest to the northwest is now forecast to take place in the early hours of Tuesday morning. However an area of high pressure is due to move across the Celtic Sea on Wednesday and this will see the wind lighten substantially.




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