French boats rule Fastnet waves

Courrier Du Leon the provisional winner but confirmation still awaits Gery Trentesaux

The last of the 358-strong Rolex Fastnet Race fleet successfully rounded the famous rock off West Cork yesterday afternoon marking the closing stages of the epic 605-mile course

Weather, as always, ruled the waves and in particular this fleet that was locked into a dead calm for a full day off Land’s End on Monday before freshening conditions on Tuesday afternoon gradually eased their pain.

That was followed by more demanding conditions on Wednesday with near gale force headwinds that ensured a full range of tests for the thousands of crew-members taking part.

It also ensured that the race became a lottery of sorts with neither giant nor club racer particularly favoured.


Even in the stakes for line honours, the multihulls saw a tight race though they don’t form part of the main Fastnet Race, trophies for which are awarded to monohull entries.

Whole distance

Yann Guichard’s 143-foot Spindrift may have led the race on the water but the smaller MOD 70-footers nipped at his heels the whole distance and were barely more than one hour behind throughout the course.

French entry Courrier Du Leon skippered by Gery Trentesaux, well-known to many Irish Commodores' Cup teams, is the provisional overall winner but with a substantial part of the fleet still at sea, the result can't be confirmed until the full handicap corrected times have been calculated to eliminate another potential winner.

If he does slip from the lead, French boats dominate the provisional top-10 standings under overall IRC handicap.

Meanwhile, Irish hopes rested on as many as a dozen entries. Anthony O’Leary’s new “Antix”, formerly Catapult that was the overall winning boat for last year’s victorious Irish Commodores’ Cup team is listed as 56th after becoming a casualty in Monday’s driftathon.

The line-up including Royal Ocean Racing Club Commodore Michael Boyd who skippered Quokka and included other Irish sailors including Barry Hurley and navigator Stephen Lee.

Meanwhile, light airs and tricky currents have brought disappointment to the Irish sailors competing in the Rio 2016 pre-Olympic test regatta in Brazil this week.

With just three races remaining yesterday to qualify for the medal race, Annalise Murphy of the National Yacht Club is out of contention for the medal race final today in the Laser Radial event.

Mid-series shocker

Murphy opened the penultimate day yesterday with a U-Flag starting disqualification that further added to her woes in last place in the 28-strong competition.

In the 49er Skiff event, Ryan Seaton and Matt McGovern recovered well from a mid-series shocker and were in 10th place in their class last night thanks to two second places.

In the Laser Radial, James Espey lies 26th out of 38 boats while in the women's 49erFX event, Andrea Brewster and Saskia Tidey lie just outside the top 10 in 14th overall.

“The main goal for the week is learn as much as possible about the venue,” commented James O’Callaghan in a video statement on social media yesterday. “It’s been a very challenging week and I think it’s fair to say that the results are not what we’d like them to be.”

The series concludes with medal race events for the different disciplines over the weekend beginning today. Further training events are planned for the Irish squad in Rio in the winter months.