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First ever doublehanded crew to win Rolex Fastnet Race

August 16, 2013

History has been made at this year’s Rolex Fastnet Race. Pascal and Alexis Loison’s JPK 1010 sailing yacht Night And Day from France was victorious at the 2013 edition and is the first doublehanded crew ever to do so. A remarkable, near unthinkable achievement, which marks a new milestone for the legendary 88-year old race.

Sailing yacht Night and Day Overall Winner of the 2013 Rolex Fastnet Race - Photo by Rolex Kurt Arrigo

Sailing yacht Night and Day Overall Winner of the 2013 Rolex Fastnet Race - Photo by Rolex/Kurt Arrigo

Arriving in Plymouth at 07:19 BST Thursday morning after four long nights at sea, Night And Day enjoyed a blistering return leg from the Fastnet Rock. In the process the dynamic duo overhauled the corrected times posted by the crews arriving ahead of them and left no room to overtake for those still on the course. Victory represents a historic feat for the father and son from Cherbourg whose unforeseen triumph is a pure demonstration of teamwork, determination and preparation.

“Nobody said this was impossible to achieve,” reflected Pascal. “It’s extraordinary, like a dream. I am very happy to have won this race with my son. There are so many factors required to make it happen. We simply hoped to win the two-handed class. This is superb.”

“(The Rolex Fastnet) is one of the most prestigious races in the world, with some of the most refined boats there are,” said Alexis, a professional sailor and regular single-handed Figaro competitor. “We competed against over 300 boats, many professional with big crews. Our preparation was really good.”

Eddie Warden Owen, RORC CEO and the winners - NIGHT AND DAY - Photo by Rolex Kurt Arrigo

Eddie Warden Owen, RORC CEO and the winners - NIGHT AND DAY - Photo by Rolex/Kurt Arrigo

Victory crowns an already successful season for the two who have only owned the boat since February. “This is our second Rolex Fastnet together,” explained Pascal. “We know the English Channel very well having done a lot of races here. The racecourse is very complicated and fascinating. There is always something to think about at each point, turn, bay.”

Night and Day’s closest rival on the water was fellow French JPK 1010 Foggy Dew which crossed the finish line in Plymouth seven minutes later. “We found ourselves in a battle with them for first place,” reflected Alexis. “They are guys we know well, our friends, who are very experienced and a worthy rival.”

Offshore yacht racing is gruelling; a mental and physical challenge even for the crews with the most resources. Double-handed sailing is even tougher. Alexis revealed a simple strategy for conquering the inevitable fatigue: “During moments the boat was going well, we would take it in turns to rest. There is no rigorous organization (or watch system).” Confidence in their approach is natural: “It comes from sailing together for a long time.”

Rolex Fastnet Race finish line from Plymouth breakwater lighthouse - Photo by Rolex Kurt Arrigo

Rolex Fastnet Race finish line from Plymouth breakwater lighthouse - Photo by Rolex/Kurt Arrigo

The pair’s only regret is that they did not experience a dramatic view of the Fastnet Rock. “Every time we pass the Fastnet it’s foggy,” joked Alexis. “I’m not sure if it really exists!” “It was raining with 300m of visibility,” added Pascal. “We only saw the beam of the lighthouse. There were boats everywhere, stunning. It wasn’t a great advert for Ireland but a wonderful, quite surreal memory.”

Night And Day’s victory heralds a dominant performance by the over 50-strong French boats in this year’s Rolex Fastnet Race.  The top five boats and twelve of the current top 15 finishers on corrected time are from across the Channel.

This is a victory that fully captures the spirit and ethos of the Rolex Fastnet Race. “The most important thing is that the race can be won by anyone,” said the Royal Ocean Racing Club CEO Eddie Warden Owen. “Everyone thinks the professional, big boats are going to have an advantage but the 2013 race has just proved what the appeal of the Rolex Fastnet is all about. They are all here because they know they have a chance of winning.”

By 17:40 BST, 244 of the 336-strong international fleet had crossed the finish line in Plymouth. All remaining yachts have rounded the Fastnet Rock, including the last placed Duet and the 100 year-old former winner, Jolie Brise. There have been ten retirements.

The final prizegiving will be held on Mount Batten, close to the Rolex Fastnet Race Village at 17:00 BST on Friday, 16 August 2013.

International Rolex Fastnet Race 2013

August 16, 2013

More than 20 different countries from four continents are represented at this year’s Rolex Fastnet Race. About 40% of fleet and half the sailors are non-British. The biennial event, one of the world’s great ocean races and sponsored by Rolex since 2001, is revered and recognised all over the world.

The Rolex Fastnet Race 2013 record breaking fleet passing by The Needles - Photo by Rolex Kurt Arrigo

The Rolex Fastnet Race 2013 record breaking fleet passing by The Needles - Photo by Rolex/Kurt Arrigo

From the United States to Russia, the United Arab Emirates to Australia, the fleet reflects the continued international reach of the sport of offshore yacht racing pitting together the finest professional sailors and passionate Corinthians. From young Omani female sailor Raiya al Habsi, taking on the event for the first time, to 83-year old Dutchman Piet Vroon making the nautical pilgrimage to the Fastnet rock for a 25th time, the allure is irresistible.

The majority of the record-breaking 336 race starters share two common goals: the first naturally enough is to finish this 611-nautical mile test of skill and character. The second is to win the event overall and to claim the coveted Rolex Fastnet Challenge Cup and Rolex timepiece.

The Rolex Fastnet Race fleet in the spectacular UK yacht charter destination - the Solent - Photo by Rolex Kurt Arrigo

The Rolex Fastnet Race fleet in the spectacular UK yacht charter destination - the Solent - Photo by Rolex/Kurt Arrigo

American influence
At the inaugural Fastnet in 1925 – a race inspired by the United States’ classic Newport-Bermuda Race created in 1906 – all seven of the competing yachts flew British flags. A touch of foreign influence was still prevalent: Saladwin was sailed by Ingo Simon, a Spaniard, and the race’s first winner Jolie Brise was constructed in Le Havre, France. A year later the race welcomed its first official overseas entry, the American schooner Primrose. Her participation was announced in the New York Times, a sign of the event’s instant reputation across the Atlantic.

American boats have defined eras in the race. In 1928, Paul Hammond’s Nina was the country’s first winner, causing some controversy for its pursuit of speed and ruthless desire to win in an era where a more gentile sailing was considered ‘appropriate’. American yachts, typically faster and more sophisticated than their British counterparts of the time, dominated the 1930s. Dorade – designed and sailed by Rod and Olin Stephens – claimed victories in 1931 and 1933, Stormy Weather in 1935, Elizabeth McCaw took line honours in 1937. In the 1950s, it was the turn of Carina who secured back-to-back handicap successes in 1955 and 1957. A decade later and Ted Turner came to prominence with his groundbreaking American Eagle, claiming line honours in 1969 and 1971 with a race record to boot. Turner also triumphed with Tenacious in the tragic 1979 race. Only one American boat – Great News – has won the Rolex Fastnet Challenge Cup since although Nirvana set a race record in 1985.

A clutch of American boats have entered again this year, including the extremely competitive 72-ft sailing yacht Bella Mente, owned by Hap Fauth current Mini Maxi Rolex World Champion. This is Fauth’s first Rolex Fastnet, and he happily concedes he is the ‘senior rookie’ in his crew: “The Rolex Fastnet is an iconic race noted for very difficult conditions. It’s tactically and strategically challenging. It has very dangerous and frustrating moments. That’s why we are here. It’s extraordinary to put this many boats in a race: from 130-ft down to 30-ft. Its a great statement by the organizers.”

The 1960s marked a new era of the event and the globalisation extended to Australia whose sailors brought heightened professionalism and dedication. Australian success arrived in the shape of the legendary Syd Fischer’s Ragamuffin the winner in 1971, a year marked by the participation of acting British Prime Minister Edward Heath.

Superyacht Esimit Europa 2 at the start of the 2013 Rolex Fastnet Race - Photo by Rolex Daniel Forster

Superyacht Esimit Europa 2 at the start of the 2013 Rolex Fastnet Race - Photo by Rolex Daniel Forster

Channel hoppers
The largest overseas contingent comes from France with in excess of 50 boats at this year’s Rolex Fastnet. Back in 1928 L’Oiseau Bleu was the first French-owned vessel to start the race, although it wasn’t until Guerveur appeared in 1929 that a French boat completed the course. In 1965, Baron de Rothschild’s Gitana IV – one of the last heavy yawls to win the race – broke the 26-year race record. The crew were said to change attire each evening for a sit down dinner served to them. Overall French victory eventually arrived two years later under the guise of Pen-Duick III skippered by the legendary Eric Tabarly. Three French winners have followed, most recently the 33-ft Iromiguy in 2005.

François Gabart, this year’s Vendée Globe winner and co-skippering the IMOCA 60 Macif in 2013, is one of the latest generation of top French offshore sailors. “The Rolex Fastnet is very famous and prestigious in France. Since I was a kid I have thought about competing in this race. For a professional sailor to sail against non-professional sailors is nice, mixing with people who just love sailing. I’m proud to be part of this event.”

The fleet passing hurst castle on the approach to The Needles - Phoro by Rolex Kurt Arrigo

The fleet passing hurst castle on the approach to The Needles - Phoro by Rolex/Kurt Arrigo

Going global
No yacht has travelled further to the 2013 Rolex Fastnet than Australian Geoff Boettcher’s 51-ft Secret Men’s Business 3.5 from Adelaide. Given the logistical challenge it has taken to transport his yacht 16,000 miles to the UK, Boettcher is not here to simply make up the numbers. “As an Australian to come and do a Rolex Fastnet is huge. We’ve done so many Rolex Sydney Hobarts (the world’s other great 600-nautical mile offshore race which Secret Men’s Business 3.5 won in 2010), this is a great add-on to the crew’s career in sailing. We’re looking for a podium finish.” Boettcher is not the only former Australian Rolex Sydney Hobart winner in attendance. Andrew Saies (whose Two True won in 2009) is competing with a largely Australian crew on Two True Tarka.

Southern hemisphere success has not been confined to Australia. New Zealand with Ross Field’s RF Yachting took line honours and a race record in 1999. Neville Crichton won line honours in 2003 with Alfa Romeo and one of the country’s greatest sailors is back this year. “The Rolex Fastnet is one of the classics of our sport. It’s very tactical, challenging and great competition, all facets that we love. I’ve got wonderful memories of the race,” revealed Mike Sanderson, ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year in 2006, tactician on Bella Mente.

South America’s one and only victory arrived courtesy of Saga from Brazil in 1973. The Middle East has confirmed its blossoming emergence in competitive sailing with Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing, skippered by British Olympian Ian Walker, winning line honours and claiming the monohull race record in 2011. This year, Middle Eastern interest is extended with the participation of Oman Air Musandam.

Spindrift 2 Yacht at the start of the 2013 Rolex Fastnet Race - Photo by Rolex Kurt Arrigo

Spindrift 2 Yacht at the start of the 2013 Rolex Fastnet Race - Photo by Rolex/Kurt Arrigo

Swedish heritage
Sweden is another country with a particular affiliation with the Rolex Fastnet. Success first arrived in the 1950s. Circe (1951) and Anna Marina (1959) claimed line honours while Sven Hansen’s Sparkman & Stephens Anitra was overall winner in 1959.

In the late 1990s, Sweden was again a dominant force at the front end of the fleet with the same boat, originally named Nicorette and then Royal Blue, achieving line honours in 1995 and then again in 1997. The link with the event remains strong. Overall winner in 2009 and 2011 the Mini Maxi yacht Rán 2 sails under the British flag with predominantly British crew. Owner Niklas Zennström, however, is a Swede, and Rán 2 carries the initials of the Royal Swedish Yacht Club on its stern. The history of the race has had a marked impact on Zennström. “You take that trophy (the Rolex Fastnet Challenge Cup) and you see the plaques with all of the names of the yachts. There is a lot of history there, you see all the names, a lot of classic boats, boats that as a kid you watched and read about it.”

Oman Air Musadam flies two hulls on approach to the Fastnet Rock - Photo by Rolex Daniel Forster

Oman Air Musadam flies two hulls on approach to the Fastnet Rock - Photo by Rolex Daniel Forster

Homeward bound
Among this myriad of international yachting powers is Ireland, home to the race’s emblematic symbol – the Fastnet Rock. Only one Irish boat – Chieftain in 2007 – has ever won the event. Trying to improve upon that statistic is this year’s 12-strong Emerald Isle contingent including Ker 39 Antix, whose crew includes Anthony O’Leary and his son Peter. “The Rolex Fastnet is on the bucket list,” explained Peter, who competed at the 2012 Olympics. “I learnt to sail in Baltimore as a youngster and used to go out and watch the boats going around the Fastnet Rock. I grew up wanting to do the race. My father has done it and my mother did it in ’79. A good few boats will come out in Baltimore to see us pass the Rock although it will be strange disappearing and returning back to England.”

Professional British sailors who have sailed throughout the world still find the draw of the race irresistible. “The Rolex Fastnet Race is the one of the top offshore races in the world,” revealed Sam Davies, navigator on Volvo 70 Team SCA, a predominantly female crew. “I remember when I was young watching all the boats prepare for the Fastnet Race thinking there is no way I could ever sail 600 miles! For me just sailing the Channel was a long way. Now I am here doing my fifth Rolex Fastnet Race and really looking forward to it. I love sailing along the British coast. It’s beautiful and there are lots of tactical and navigational challenges.”

The international attraction of the race is unquestionable. The race organizers, the Royal Ocean Racing Club and in particular its CEO, Eddie Warden Owen who has 7 races under his belt are quick to recognize the status the race has achieved and its widespread popularity. “It’s the people’s Everest of the ocean,” says Warden Owen. “It’s a tough challenge but one people enjoy.” A view plainly echoed by the some 3,000 sailors drawn to the contest every two years and the intrepid yachtsmen who have gone before.

McConaghy Boats built super maxi Esimit Europa 2 takes Line Honours at Rolex Fastnet Race

August 15, 2013

Constructed by McConaghy Boats and designed by Reichel Pugh, the 100-foot super maxi sailing yacht Esimit Europa 2 (formerly Alfa Romeo) arrived in Plymouth on Wednesday morning, securing Line Honours Victory in the 2013 Rolex Fastnet Race. Charter yacht ICAP Leopard 3, also built by McConaghy and designed by Farr, arrived 3rd.

ESIMIT EUROPA 2, SLO1001, Owner- Igor Simcic, Sailed by- Jochen Schumann, Design- RP 100, Class- Canting Keel - Photo Rolex - Kurt Arrigo

ESIMIT EUROPA 2, SLO1001, Owner- Igor Simcic, Sailed by- Jochen Schumann, Design- RP 100, Class- Canting Keel - Photo Rolex - Kurt Arrigo

Whilst in IRC McConaghy boats are winning their divisions in class IRC Z (Pace, Reichel Pugh 52), IRC 1 (Magnum III, Ker 40), and IRC 1a (Magnum III, Ker 40)

The pan-European crew, skippered by Jochen Schümann, add Rolex Fastnet success to a glittering array of line honours victories including at the Giraglia Rolex Cup (2010, ’11, ’12) and Rolex Middle Sea Race (2010, ’11, ’12).

In the highly competitive class IRC 1a, McConaghy Ker 40s fill the top 4 positions in with Andrew Pearce’s Magnum III followed by Baraka GP, Aniene/Keronimo, and Hooligan VII with only minutes separated the 2nd 3rd and 4th placed yachts in this division, but Magnum III held a lead of over 2 hours over second placed Baraka GP.

McConaghy Boats have an enviable track record in this iconic biennial event, since the first Rolex Fastnet race was held in 2003:

2003: Line Honours: 1st Alfa Romeo, 2nd Zephyrus V, 3rd Nokia Enigma IRC: 1st Nokia Enigma, 2nd Alfa Romeo, 3rd Zephyrus V (all designed by Reichel Pugh)

2007: Line Honours: 1st – and new course record – ICAP Leopard 3 (Farr Yacht Design), 2nd Rambler (Reichel Pugh) IRC: Rambler, 2nd overall and 1st in class

2009: Line honours: 1st ICAP Leopard 3

2011: IRC: ICAP Leopard 3, 2nd overall and 1st in class, Keronimo (Ker 40) 1st in class

Maxi yacht EUROPA 2 takes line honours at 2013 Rolex Fastnet Race

August 15, 2013

As the first monohull yacht to complete the 611 nautical mile course in 60 hours, 27 minutes and 49 seconds, Igor Simcic’s 100-ft maxi yacht EUROPA 2 (SLO), has added line honours success at the 2013 Rolex Fastnet Race to its shining collection of victories, arriving in Plymouth at 02:17.49 BST on Wednesday morning.

Sailing yacht ESIMIT EUROPA 2, SLO1001, Owner- Igor Simcic, Sailed by- Jochen Schumann, Design- RP 100, Class- Canting Keel - Photo Kurt Arrigo

Sailing yacht ESIMIT EUROPA 2, SLO1001, Owner- Igor Simcic, Sailed by- Jochen Schumann, Design- RP 100, Class- Canting Keel - Photo Kurt Arrigo

“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 yacht 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 charter yacht 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.

ESIMIT EUROPA 2, SLO1001, Owner- Igor Simcic, Sailed by- Jochen Schumann, Design- RP 100, Class- Canting Keel - Photo Rolex - Kurt Arrigo

ESIMIT EUROPA 2, SLO1001, Owner- Igor Simcic, Sailed by- Jochen Schumann, Design- RP 100, Class- Canting Keel - Photo Rolex - Kurt Arrigo

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 Leopardinto Plymouth. In the captivating contest between the two 72-ft Mini Maxis, Hap Fauth’s Bella Mente yacht (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.

Line honours for Esimit Europa 2 Yacht at Rolex Fastnet Race 2013

August 14, 2013

Esimit Europa 2 yacht crossed the finish line in Plymouth, UK as first monohull yacht at the prominent Rolex Fastnet Race on Wednesday, 14th August 2013 at 03:17 CEST, with elapsed time of 60 hours and 27 minutes. Sailing yacht Esimit Europa 2 reached her 25th consecutive line honours victory.

Luxury sailing yacht Esimit Europa 2 at the 2013 Rolex Fastnet Race

Luxury sailing yacht Esimit Europa 2 at the 2013 Rolex Fastnet Race

Once more the 611-nautical mile long race lived up to its reputation of being one of the world’s most challenging races. Fortunately this time not because of stormy winds, capsizes and broken masts, but rather light winds during the entire course, where every single mistake is crucial in terms of losing the pace. 18-member Esimit Sailing Team, skippered by three time Olympic gold medallist and two time America’s Cup winner Jochen Schümann, was well aware of those conditions and therefore perfectly adjusted the yacht for the offshore challenge during its Cowes Week winning performances few days before the start at the Royal Yacht Squadron in Cowes on Sunday, 11th August at 14:50 CEST.

In the first couple of hours after the start, fleet of 5 yachts made a significant distance to the rest of over 340 competitors. Besides Esimit Europa 2 yacht the 5-member runaway fleet included a two time line honours winner charter yacht ICAP Leopard (GBR), Team SCA (GBR), current monohull record holder Abu Dhabi (UAE), luxury yacht Bella Mente (USA) and sailing yacht Ran (GBR). Passing Isles of Scily in the Celtic Sea, just two of them remained in the game – Esimit Europa 2 and ICAP Leopard.

Igor Simčič’s 30-meters maxi yacht Esimit Europa 2, sponsored by Gazprom, had to push hard to stay in the front of the same size excellent British yacht, forcing Andrew Cape (navigator) and Jordi Calafat (tactician) onboard Esimit Europa 2 use all their experiences to find better upwind sailing conditions.

Esimit Sailing Team

Esimit Sailing Team

Therefore, several tacks were performed all the way towards the Irish Fastnet Rock, where Esimit Sailing Team decided to take a westerly turn, while charter yacht ICAP Leopard stayed on the east side. This brilliant manoeuvre allowed the European flagged yacht, a true sailing Formula 1, to pick up speed when rounding Fastnet Rock at 2:00 CEST and increase the distance to Mike Slade’s superyacht FARR 100.

When sailing downwind on their way to Plymouth the racing conditions however favoured the British yacht due to its specifics, therefore Esimit Sailing Team had to push even harder to take the very well deserved trophy, one of the most renowned in the sailing world.

“Taking line honours at the Rolex Fastnet Race, as it is one of the greatest challenges among all offshore races, was always one of my biggest wishes. I am happy that my dream realized with the hard work of the entire crew. I am proud of our skipper Jochen Schümann and the engineering team, who did an amazing job in preparing the yacht in the best possible way for the demanding conditions we faced during the entire course. I would also like to thank our main sponsor Gazprom, supporters and endorsers, who share our vision of uniting Europeans through excellence, close cooperation and mutual trust. Only by that we can succeed and we have just proved it with this fantastic achievement,” stated Igor Simčič, owner of the Esimit Europa 2 yacht, who was joining his team for the race.

“The Rolex Fastnet Race once again proved to be a difficult race. We are exhausted, but very pleased with the final result. Basically, it was a race of two stages, upwind towards Fastnet Rock and downwind after rounding it. At the first stage we had a very good breeze of 16 – 20 knots, performing many tacks and we had to keep a close eye on our closest competitor ICAP Leopard. We knew that they are very strong sailing upwind, therefore we had to keep up the good pace and at the same time follow their performance. After rounding the Fastnet Rock and passing the mark, wind was decreasing even down to 5 knots at the final stage of the race, but with the correctly chosen tactics and sails we were in control at every single moment. Being in lead the entire course and taking line honours at the Rolex Fastnet Race is a great achievement and I am very proud of the performance of the crew and yacht,” added Jochen Schümann, Esimit Europa 2’s skipper.

After her successful performances in the northern Europe, including line honours at Kieler Woche in Germany, ÅF Offshore Race in Sweden and Cowes Week Big Boat Series, luxury yacht Esimit Europa 2 is returning to the Mediterranean, starting with Bernetti Lombardini Cup and Barcolana in the Gulf of Trieste. On her way from Trieste to Malta’s Rolex Middle Sea Race, Esimit Europa 2 yacht will try to break the course record between the two maritime cities (Medot Sailing Trophy).

Superyacht Esimit Europa 2 to claim monohull line honours at Rolex Fastnet Race 2013

August 13, 2013

Skippered by Jochen Schümann, the 100-ft Maxi yacht Esimit Europa 2 is expected to claim monohull line honours at the currently running Rolex Fastnet Race.

Superyacht Esimit Europa 2 leading the fleet at the 2013 Rolex Fastnet Race - Photo by Rolex Kurt Arrigo

Superyacht Esimit Europa 2 leading the fleet at the 2013 Rolex Fastnet Race - Photo by Rolex/Kurt Arrigo

At 17:00 BST she was 85-nm from the finish line in Plymouth, with the crew reporting an ETA of 01:00 BST Wednesday morning. In the prevailing light conditions, Esimit Europa 2 has a natural advantage over her nearest rival, Mike Slade’s heavier charter yacht ICAP Leopard (GBR) and consequently throughout the day has been able to build what looks like an insurmountable lead. It currently stands at 20-nm.

Volvo 70 Team SCA (SWE) is making good progress on the heels of ICAP Leopard currently finding itself in a strong position with the IRC rating system taken into account. “Since the Fastnet Rock we have been pushing into this lighter stuff,” reported Team SCA’s Brad Jackson. “The boats behind us keep coming at us but we eventually hit some breeze and keep getting away. We’ll keep trying to do that for a while.”

Searching for wind on approach to the fastnet rock - Photo by Rolex Kurt Arrigo

Searching for wind on approach to the fastnet rock - Photo by Rolex/Kurt Arrigo

Among the chasing group is sailing yacht Bella Mente who continues to prevail in the clash between the two 72-ft Mini Maxis. Hap Fauth’s American crew rounded the Fastnet Rock at dawn this morning and, despite having to repair a broken mainsheet, the crew were in good spirits, reporting: “It was the first time some of us have seen the Rock, which is pretty cool. Luxury yacht Rán 2 rounded the Rock a good distance behind us so we need to build on that lead a bit more for the anticipated light air finish.” Rán 2’s slow passage around the Rock bordered on tedium. “All this hard work for a small rock in the [Celtic] Sea!,” they jokingly blogged. “After rounding the Rock we are racing back towards Plymouth hopefully with more wind.” Bella Mente continues to enjoy a 5-nm advantage, 140-nm to finish.

The bulk of the 336-strong fleet is still en-route to the Fastnet Rock, the 611-nm race’s emblematic halfway point. It is proving a highly tactical, challenging race with numerous wind shifts to respond to. Crews are having to strategically manage their resources with many long hours at sea still forecast. Andrew Pearce’s Ker 40 Magnum 3 (GBR) currently 10-nm from the Rock reported: “Last night was much colder, although the increased fatigue probably played a part. We are reduced to a three-watch system of two hours instead of three in order to make sure a fresh watch is always on deck. Nevertheless, the relentless pace and difficult conditions mean tiredness is relatively inescapable.”

Sunset sailing for Esimit Europa 2 yacht at the end of the first day - Photo by Rolex Kurt Arrigo

Sunset sailing for Esimit Europa 2 yacht at the end of the first day - Photo by Rolex/Kurt Arrigo

A sentiment likely to be felt throughout the fleet as they head into a third long night. At 17:00 BST, 29 yachts had rounded the Fastnet Rock. To date, there have been eight retirements.

Reminder: At 02.53.58 BST this morning, Dona Bertarelli and Yann Guichard’s superyacht Spindrift 2 crossed the finish line in Plymouth as the fastest multihull yacht at the 2013 Rolex Fastnet Race. The fleet’s largest yacht at 131-ft completed the course in an elapsed time of 38 hours, 53 minutes and 58 seconds following a painfully slow crawl into Plymouth. Banque Populaire finished second on the water 20 minutes behind.

Rolex Fastnet Race 2013: 131ft superyacht Spindrift 2 first to round the Fastnet Rock

August 13, 2013

Yesterday, on August 12, at 14:03 BST, Dona Bertarelli and Yann Guichard’s 131-ft Maxi Trimaran Spindrift 2 became the first yacht to round the Fastnet Rock, representing the symbolic halfway point of the 611-nautical mile Rolex Fastnet Race.

Superyacht Spindrift 2 just ahead of Banque Populaire yacht as she passes the Fastnet Rock on Monday afternoon - Photo by Rolex Kurt Arrigo

Superyacht Spindrift 2 just ahead of Banque Populaire yacht as she passes the Fastnet Rock on Monday afternoon - Photo by Rolex/Kurt Arrigo

Superyacht Spindrift 2 rounded the Rock on the south-western tip of Ireland mere seconds ahead of the Armel le Cleac’h-skippered Banque Populaire yacht as the two multihulls enjoyed a intriguing tactical tussle, attacking the final approach to the Rock from opposite directions. The speed machines are currently engaged in a gripping duel to the finish in Plymouth. At 17:00 BST Spindrift 2 retained a narrow lead, travelling at a consistent 30 knots some 200-nm from the finish. The arrival of the first multihull is expected in the early hours of Tuesday morning.

Sunset sailing for superyacht Esimit Europa 2 at the end of the first day

Sunset sailing for superyacht Esimit Europa 2 at the end of the first day - Photo by Rolex/Kurt Arrigo

As forecast, luxury yacht Esimit Europa 2 has assumed leadership of the monohull fleet. The 100-ft Maxi guided by Jochen Schümann moved ahead at 19:30 BST on the first evening having taken time to force her way through the fleet after starting in the final group. She is expected to reach the Fastnet Rock later this evening. Her nearest rival on the water is Mike Slade’s two-time line honours winner charter yacht ICAP Leopard with the two Volvo 70s Team SCA (SWE) and Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing (UAE) stacked narrowly behind.

Luxury charter yacht ICAP Leopard at sunset on the first day

Luxury charter yacht ICAP Leopard at sunset on the first day - Photo by Rolex/Kurt Arrigo

Niklas Zennström’s sailing yacht Rán 2 (GBR), in pursuit of a third straight overall Rolex Fastnet Race victory, is currently second best in the duel with fellow 72-ft Mini Maxi yacht Bella Mente. At 17:00 BST, Hap Fauth’s American crew had created a 5-nm gap between the boats still some 360-nm from the finish. With the light conditions forecast for the continuation of the race, a third win for Zennström is in the balance. Despite the intensity of the contest, there was still time for some humour from the Bella Mente crew: “We seem to be an enjoying an English summer: overcast, upwind and cold!”

Luxury yacht Ran 2 in close pursuit of Bella Mente yacht after the race start

Luxury yacht Ran 2 in close pursuit of Bella Mente yacht after the race start - Photo by Rolex/Kurt Arrigo

The bulk of the fleet is clustered on the approach to Land’s End facing a second tactically demanding night at sea as they make slow progress to the Rock. Of the 336 race starters, seven have retired, the most high profile being the Maxi multihull Prince De Bretagne who reported a technical failure.

A highly successful Aberdeen Asset Management Cowes Week 2013

August 13, 2013

As this year’s Aberdeen Asset Management Cowes Week came to its end on Saturday evening, organisers Cowes Week Limited (CWL) reflected on another highly successful regatta, which was marked by an increase in overall entry as well as visitor numbers, plus online interaction figures, which already surpass the totals seen for the whole of 2012.

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With the exception of a forced lay-day on Tuesday 6 August, the conditions provided some champagne sailing throughout the Week and at the overall prize-giving on Saturday evening, there were many happy faces. Stuart Quarrie, CEO of Cowes Week Limited commented: “It’s been a fantastic, very rewarding week. The weather gods have been smiling on us and it’s a testament to the huge efforts of our entire team that this year’s regatta has been so successful”.

Martin Gilbert, CEO of title sponsor, Aberdeen Asset Management, added: “There was a terrific buzz around this year’s event and there was a tremendously exciting atmosphere. Our guests all had a great time and it felt like the event achieved even more positive press coverage than in previous years. We’re all tired but happy after the week, it couldn’t have gone any better.”

Stand-out performances of the Week included Lady Penelope from the East Coast racing in the Squib class who not only won her class, but cleaned-up by also taking the Overall White Group Trophy and the Aberdeen Asset Management Overall Winner Trophy. Commenting on the White Group win, Malcolm Hutchings said: “We are overwhelmed. It is fantastic to have finally won White Group after three years of trying and we are particularly pleased to be taking the trophy back to the east coast”. Local Islander Adam Gosling racing in IRC Class 4 with Yes! took a class win and the winning title across the Black Group fleet.

Aberdeen Asset Management Cowes Week 2013

Aberdeen Asset Management Cowes Week 2013

The number of crews participating in the Aberdeen Asset Management Under 25 Trophy grew significantly following the introduction of the youth initiative by Aberdeen in 2012 and over twenty boats raced for the Trophy this year. The crew of under 25 year-olds racing the J/80, J.A.T claimed glory at the end of the Week.

The Young Skipper Trophy this year went to Alistair Barter on the Sonar Bertie who was runner-up to Paralympic gold medallist Andy Cassell’s Jenny in the overall results for the class.

The largest class to race at the regatta was once again the XODs boasting a fleet size of 80 boats, and it was John Tremlett and his crew who took overall victory in the class for the first time with Lass, having enjoyed top results over many previous years in the Victory class.

The Big Boat Series lost a day of their three-day schedule on Tuesday but enjoyed some great racing on Wednesday and Thursday with Niklas Zennström’s sailing yacht Rán just beating the US newcomer to the event, the mini maxi yacht Bella Mente, in the class results for the Series. However, despite just missing out on overall glory, Bella Mente was awarded with the inaugural local letterbox Newcomer Trophy at the end of the Week; a stunning new addition to the regatta silverware collection which they were delighted to take back to the US.

Full results information is detailed on the official event website where a replay of the live commentated footage from throughout the Week is also available until the end of August.

Highlights ashore throughout the Week included:
▪    A packed schedule of family activities in support of Family Day (Sunday 4 August);
▪    A celebration of women in sailing on Ladies Day (Thursday 8 August), which saw the presentation of the Ladies Day Trophy to Paralympic gold medallist, Helena Lucas, racing throughout the Week on her SB20, Volvo. Helena also claimed an overall 3rd position in the end of Week class results; plus
▪    A very special evening of entertainments on Friday 9 August with a display from the awe-inspiring Red Arrows (thanks to funding support from local letterbox), as well as from the de Havilland DH.110 twin boom, twin-engined 1950s–1960s British two-seat jet fighter, Sea Vixen, with both displays followed by the traditional fireworks display.

The post-event survey is now online inviting competitors and visitors to the regatta to share their feedback to help organisers make further improvements to the regatta.

Entries are now online for the 2014 regatta and anyone entering between now and the end of the year will not only take advantage of a Super Early Bird entry fee, but will also be in with a chance of winning a fantastic range of prizes including a rebate on their entry fee, free berthing in Cowes and a host of other benefits and goodies provided by the regatta sponsors and the main event venues.

Rolex Fastnet Race 2013: Esimit Europa 2 Yacht leading the monohull fleet

August 12, 2013

Sunday, 11th August at 14:50 CEST, saw the Royal Yacht Squadron in Cowes, England, play a host to the start of one of the world’s tactically most difficult races – Rolex Fastnet Race. For the 18-member Esimit Sailing Team with Jochen Schümann (skipper), Andrew Cape (navigator), Jordi Calafat (tactician), as well as Alberto Bolzan (helmsman) as afterguard, the main aim is to arrive as the first monohull yacht to Plymouth.

Superyacht Esimit Europa 2 at the 2013 Rolex Fastnet Race

Superyacht Esimit Europa 2 at the 2013 Rolex Fastnet Race - Photo credit to Esimit Europa/Ian Roman

The 18-member crew, led by skipper Jochen Schümann, performed a clean start in light wind conditions. In one hour the 30-meters maxi yacht Esimit Europa 2 left Solent Channel, heading northwest into the English Channel with average speed of 10 knots. In the late afternoon Esimit Sailing Team performed first in series of tactical tacks to catch more winds, turning north closer to the mainland. At that point the fleet of IMOCA 60 class yachts was ahead of her as they have started the race 1 hour and a half before Esimit Europa 2.

By keeping good pace and performing a few tacks the European flagged yacht managed to overhaul the entire fleet and is now leading the monohull fleet of over 340 participants. On Monday at 11:00 AM CEST Esimit Europa 2 already passed the Isles of Scily and had the advantage of about 6 nautical miles in front of the nearest competitor – British 100-feet charter yacht ICAP Leopard – which has took line honours at Rolex Fastnet Race twice before (2007, 2009).

Current yacht’s speed is 11.10 knots, while she has 388 nautical miles ahead of her to see the finish line in Plymouth. Currently, positioned 3rd, 4th and 5th are yachts Team SCA (GBR), the current monohull record holder Abu Dhabi (UAE) and sailing yacht Bella Mente (USA).

According to superyacht Esimit Europa 2′s navigator Andrew Cape, current monuhull record of 42 hours and 30 minutes is most likely safe this year due to light to medium shifting winds forecasted for the entire race.

Rolex Fastnet Race 2013: Smooth Start

August 11, 2013

The 45th edition of this year’s Rolex Fastnet Race is in full swing, following the largest and most impressive start in the event’s 87-year history. Today, Sunday, August 11, 2013, saw 335 yachts set off on the iconic 611-nautical mile race from Cowes, Isle of Wight to Plymouth via the Fastnet Rock on the southern tip of Ireland.

The Rolex Fastnet Race 2013 Record Breaking Fleet passing by the needles - Photo by Rolex Kurt Arrigo

The Rolex Fastnet Race 2013 Record Breaking Fleet passing by The Needles - Photo by Rolex/Kurt Arrigo

An overcast, virtually windless morning gave way to increasing sunshine and a gently building breeze in time for the first yachts to start from the Royal Yacht Squadron. The fleet’s fastest boats, the multihulls, featuring Spindrift 2, the largest yacht in attendance at 131-ft, and Banque Populaire yacht were first away and were soon making rapid progress through The Solent teeming with spectator boats.

Seven more starts followed over a two-hour period with the largest monohulls including 100-foot Maxi superyacht Esimit Europa 2 (SLO) and charter yacht ICAP Leopard (GBR) in the final group. In little over an hour they had overhauled many of the smaller yachts in the fleet and were passing The Needles, at the western end of the Isle of Wight.

Superyacht Esimit Europa 2 leads the maxis away from the race start

Superyacht Esimit Europa 2 leads the maxis away from the race start - Photo by Rolex/Kurt Arrigo

Final preparations this morning had seen the international crews intently focused on deciding early strategy. “The start is critical,” explained Mike Sanderson, 2006 ISAF Rolex World Sailor and winner of the Volvo Ocean Race. The tactician on the 72-ft American Mini Maxi yacht Bella Mente, which started in the final group, continued: “It’s a wonderful feeling moving through the fleet, however you’ve got to be careful. We are likely to still be coming through boats as it gets dark on the first night.” His thoughts were echoed by Sam Davies, navigator on the 70-ft Team SCA from Sweden. “We have 300 boats to sail through, most of which we will probably overtake somewhere in the Solent,” she revealed. “We have to be really alert and sometimes accept we can’t go where we want to go. It requires a lot of concentration. For the spectators it will be magnificent.”

Charter yacht ICAP Leopard threads throughthe fleet off hurst castle

Charter yacht ICAP Leopard threads throughthe fleet off hurst castle - Photo by Rolex/Kurt Arrigo

Mark Richmond, helmsman on Dutchman Piet Vroon’s strongly-fancied Ker 46 Tonnerre de Breskens 3, was also concentrating on the race’s first few hours. “It’s key for us to get away and not get stuck with the smaller boats. The weather can do anything and there are always complications out of your control. Two years ago we were leading the event at Land’s End and the wind then shut down coming back from the rock!”

With the course currently experiencing light winds from the west, the first half of the race to the Fastnet Rock will be upwind and tactically challenging. Crews will be fully engaged in correctly positioning their yachts on the racetrack and getting the most from the breeze on offer. The forecast suggests the wind will pick up between Tuesday night and Wednesday morning pointing to the smaller boats being favoured in the race for the overall title.

At 17:00 BST, the leading multihull boat was Spindrift, which had just passed Weymouth travelling at 22 knots. Meanwhile, IMOCA 60 Macif (FRA) was approaching Weymouth and leading the monohull fleet.