Maxi Banque Populaire V crew - Rolex Fastnet race Copyright : Team Banque Populaire / BFBP
If seriously fast boats and 600-plus mile racecourses are your thing, Fastnet 2011 was your race. For starters, the maxi-trimaran Banque Populaire, skippered by Loick Peyron and crewed by some of the world's best multi-hull sailors, broke the old multi-hull course record, making 1 day, 8 hours and 48 minutes the new standard. Ironically, Peyron bested his own record, which he set in 1999 aboard Fujicolor. It will certainly be interesting to see how long Banque Populaire's new record stands, and if it will fall at Peyron's hands...again.
Meanwhile, terrible luck struck George David's extremely well-sailed Rambler 100 (ex. Speedboat; the Juan K-designed 100-foot super maxi) just after she rounded Fastnet Rock when her keel fin fractured and her bulb fell off, immediately triggering a full capsize and turtle. 'Soon after rounding the Fastnet Rock, the wind went southwest, right on the nose,' said Rambler 100 project manager Mick Harvey. 'We were beating into big seas, launching Rambler off the top of full size waves. I was down below with navigator Peter Isler when we heard the sickening sound of the keel breaking off. It was instantaneous; there was no time to react. The boat turned turtle, just like a dinghy capsizing. Isler issued a Mayday and we got out of there as quickly as we could.'
All 21 sailors were safely rescued, but David and four other crewmembers were washed away from the upturned hull; they joined arms and treaded water for several hours until they were rescued. Wendy Touton, David's partner, had to be airlifted to the hospital to be treated for hypothermia. Thankfully, everyone is alright. Be sure to check the post-capsize interviews with David and veteran bowman Jerry Kirby, inside.
It should be noted that while Rambler 100 was a favorite to set a new monohull course record, this honor instead went to Ian Walker and his Abu Dhabi Racing crew on their new, Farr-designed Volvo Open 70, Azzam. Interestingly, Azzam smoked ICAP Leopard, the Farr-designed 100-footer that set the previous monohull record of 1 day 20hrs 18 minutes, across the line. Walker and company managed to shave 1 hour 39 minutes off of Leopard's 2007 run.
Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing, skippered by Ian Walker from the UK, at the finish of the Rolex Fastnet Race. Ian Roman/Volvo Ocean Race
'It was a fast, tough race and to cross the line with the record and the honors is a big relief and shows that we are really competitive,' said Walker. 'It's a great boost for the team, both the shore and race crews, to help them feel that they are part of a winning outfit. Winning can become a habit and it is certainly a habit we want to get into.' All three of the VO70s entered in the race Azzam, Groupama and Team Sanya [ex. Telefonica Blue]) did exceptionally well, adding much anticipation to the next Volvo Ocean Race, which starts in Alicante, Spain, in late October.
Check out the full Fastnet reports and multi-media galleries, inside.
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