No questions about Rambler’s record in Round Ireland Race

George David’s crew takes optimum wind advantage when finishing in Wicklow

A common phenomenon in offshore sailing is the “thousand yard stare” that occurs when sailors come ashore after days or weeks of intense competition and isolation afloat.

Yet there was little evidence of this at Wicklow Sailing Club this week as the Volvo Round Ireland Race ended. Two camps are apparent.

The first belongs to elite crews on the first four finishers that completed the 704-mile course in about two days – an incredibly fast time – so really weren’t at sea long enough for the stare to take effect.

The second camp belongs to the bulk of the 63-strong fleet that endured light winds for the latter end of the race and so were at sea twice as long. Indeed, some of the older slower boats are still at sea even as the prize-giving looms at Wicklow Sailing Club.

Instead of vacant stares, the finishers share wide grins: just completing the course has long been regarding as a result in itself, especially considering that a dozen boats were forced to retire from the competition.

And so two camps exist in the overall prize stakes as well.

In the classic round Ireland, handicapping generally means that the first boats home aren’t necessarily the overall winners, especially when huge exotic yachts are entered. Rarely does weather align to favour the bigger boats, usually with professional crews over the smaller club-level entries.

And for the same reason, record-breakers don’t enter the Round Ireland in the hope of new world sailing times. So what occurred this year took everyone by surprise.

In the event, the three 70-foot trimarans completed the course in under two days – 38 hours and 37 minutes was the finishing time set by Sidney Gavignet's Omansail, with Damian Foxall on board to break the team's own 2015 record.

Last year's record was set by picking the optimum weather window for a fast passage around Ireland and June wouldn't be regarded as an ideal month usually. The trimaran crews weren't hopeful yet four days before they actually finished, navigator Andrew Cape on George David's Rambler 88 predicted a passage time of 50 hours. In the end, his prediction was off by 24 minutes. Line honours While few doubted that the three MOD70's would lead the fleet home to take line honours, new world-record times were a bonus. But in an event designated primarily for monohulls, Rambler delivered a masterclass performance that soon proved untouchable.

While owner George David was pleased with line honours and a new course record that took over 15 hours off Mike Slade's 2008 record on ICAP Leopard, he was eyeing the slowly dying breeze.

Best of the chasing fleet was Eric de Turkheim's French entry Teasing Machine, slightly ahead of a clutch of Irish contenders including David Cullen's Euro Car Parks, Paul O'Higgins Rockabill VI and the Royal Ocean RC's Irish Commodore Michael Boyd.

As Rambler finished, the wind off the west coast was still favourable and was sweeping the fleet towards the finish with a feint but hopeful chance of beating David’s finishing-time.

But once again, the North Channel and Irish Sea halted progress and the American yacht’s outright win of this year’s race is in no doubt.