Lead monohulls around the Rock
Following the arrivals of the first two maxi-trimarans (read the full story of this here), third to arrive was the MOD70 Oman Air-Musandam. After a little over 40 hours at sea, the Oman Sail team ghosted across the finish line in Plymouth just 83 minutes behind the leaders Spindrift 2, and exactly one hour after Banque Populaire.
Meanwhile, in the canting keel monohulls, Esimit Europa 2 was first monohull around the Fastnet Rock at 01:17 BST this morning, followed 38 minutes later by Mike Slade's ICAP Leopard. They are currently half way back to Bishop's Rock. However it is the Volvo Open 70s that lead the class. The mostly female crew on Team SCA rounded the Fastnet Rock at 03:19, 28 minutes ahead of the Ian Walker-skippered Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing. In addition to leading IRC Canting Keel, Team SCA is currently an impressive third overall under IRC.
With IRC One still en route for Fastnet Rock, they are seeing the first of the breeze backing into the southwest. As a result they are no long tacking and so the IRC One leader, still Nicolas Loday and Jean Claude Nicoleau's Grand Soleil 43, Codiam, has become the latest boat to take the overall lead under IRC rating.
Ahead of her, the 72ft Mini Maxis in IRC Zero have rounded Fastnet Rock with Hap Fauth's Bella Mente passing at 05:22 BST, 1 hour 5 minutes ahead of Niklas Zennström's Ran 2. Bella Mente continues to lead the big monohull class on handicap. Johnny Vincent's 52ft Pace is expected to be the next IRC Zero arrival, just before lunchtime.
Most recently a deluge of IMOCA 60s have been rounding the Fastnet Rock. In the battle between the latest generation VPLP-Verdier designed sisterships, MACIF and Maître CoQ, the former regained the lead just before reaching the Fastnet Rock at 07:30 this morning. They remain locked in their own private match, with Alex Thomson and Spanish co-skippered Guillermo Altadill 3.5 miles astern in third, aboard Hugo Boss.
The Class 40s leaders are now three quarters of the way towards the Rock and it remains the brand new Spanish boat, Tales II, of Gonzalo Botin, that holds the lead. Race favourite, Sebastien Rogues' GDF Suez, is lying second, with another brand new boat, the Tom Humphreys-designed, Vaquita, in third.
Among the Figaros it comes as little surprise that Xavier Macaire and Yves Ravot's Maluel is ahead, as Macaire finished second in this year's Solitaire du Figaro. After spending most of the night heading on a long leg west from the Scilly Isles, the boats have just tacked north. With this Henry Bomby and Richard Tolkien on Rockfish, have moved up to second place.
"We were quite slow for the first part of the night but we managed to get back into it," said Bomby. "We are tracking, while it looks like others aren't.
"All of yesterday we were within 100m of Sam [Matson] and Robin [Elsey]. They kept on attacking us and we just managed to hold them off. But it was really pleasant with lots of sunshine and really flat sea."
Bomby, whose sponsor, Mitch Tonks, has just opened a restaurant in Plymouth, is expecting to reach the finish on Thursday afternoon. Compared to the Figaro class' singlehanded three-week-long La Solitaire, which he sailed in June, being doublehanded has been a big change. "I've had more sleep and more to eat than I did in the entire Solitaire!"
As the big multis were finishing, so backmarker, Gerard Jonker's Nicholson 43, Emily, racing in IRC 4, had only just passed Plymouth, still outbound towards the Rock.
At breakfast time they had just reached the Lizard. "It was a long first night, but we stayed offshore a bit when a lot of our competitors stayed inshore," Jonker reported. "The crew is in good spirits, especially as we have scrambled eggs this morning for breakfast. As we approach Land's End, the wind looks to be going light again, so at the moment it looks like we could take a week to finish the race."