In the Rolex Fastnet Race, Igor Simcic’s Esimit Europa 2 (SLO) has added line honours success to its glittering collection of victories. Arriving in Plymouth at 02:17.49 BST on Wednesday morning, the 100-ft Maxi was the first monohull yacht to finish, completing the 611-nm course in 60 hours, 27 minutes and 49 seconds.
Esimit Europa 2 thunders along
'I am very happy to have done it and finish first over the line,' said Simcic. 'It wasn’t a classic Rolex Fastnet with a lot of wind but this doesn’t mean it was any easier.' 'It was a huge up and down race as we sailed the 300 or so miles up to the Rock upwind and then (after the Rock) in very light downwind with a lot of gybes,' explained skipper Jochen Schümann. 'That’s why we are not close to a race record but it was long and challenging. It was my third Rolex Fastnet and more Mediterranean in terms of conditions - although the weather could have been a lot warmer!'
Esimit Europa 2 clinches her seventh Rolex offshore line honours title following successes at the Giraglia Rolex Cup (2010, ’11, ’12) and at the Rolex Middle Sea Race (2010, ‘11, ‘12).
The current Rolex Fastnet Race monohull race record remains the time set by Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing (UAE) in 2011: 42 hours, 39 minutes. Ian Walker’s crew were second over the line in 2013 – some five hours after Esimit Europa 2 - impressively ousting the larger but heavier ICAP Leopard in the final stages leading into Plymouth. 'It was a really enjoyable race,' explained Walker. 'It was great that Team SCA (another Volvo 70) were here to race against and they sailed really well.' Seven monohulls arrived in Plymouth within 13 minutes of each other, a demonstration of the high level of competition.
ICAP Leopard eventually crossed the finish line four minutes after Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing. It proved a frustrating second half of the race for the two-time line honours winner who parked several times. Two IMOCA 60s MACIF and Maître Coq, both from France, followed ICAP Leopard into Plymouth. In the captivating contest between the two 72-ft Mini Maxis, Hap Fauth’s Bella Mente (USA) finished narrowly ahead of defending Rolex Fastnet champion Rán 2 (GBR).
'We had a great race with Rán,' explained owner Hap Fauth, a Rolex Fastnet debutant. 'For a moderate race it was lots of work. Going upwind all the way through the Celtic Sea was a test for equipment and stamina of crew. We are pleased with how we performed. (ICAP) Leopard were ten hours ahead of us and we finished four minutes behind them!'
With both the multihull and monohull line honours decided, the focus now shifts to identifying the overall race winner. With Niklas Zennström’s Ran 2 – winner of the two previous Rolex Fastnet Races out of the running – the current leader on corrected time is Johnny Vincent’s TP52 Pace (GBR), one of 17 monohull boats to have reached Plymouth by 13:30 BST on Wednesday.
The vast majority of the 336-strong fleet has now rounded the Fastnet Rock and with wind speeds improving are making good progress to Plymouth. The leaderboard is likely to change several times over the coming hours with the prospects of the 40-ft boats looking encouraging.
'We’ve lost count of what day it is and how long we have been at sea as all that matters now is whether we are on watch or off watch,' reported the crew on Andrew McIrvine’s First 40 La Réponse (GBR), now 124-nm from the finish. The predominantly Corinthian crews still at sea are giving everything in the pursuit of Rolex Fastnet Race glory.
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