Once in a lifetime?

Kurt Arrigo / Rolex
We look at the battle of the three hulled titans in the Rolex Fastnet Race
The Rolex Fastnet Race this year has been blessed with a distinct rarity - a line-up between the world’s two largest racing trimarans, Dona Bertarelli and Yann Guichard’s Spindrift 2 (ex-Banque Populaire Maxi) and the Armel le Cleac’h skippered Banque Populaire (ex-Groupama 3). They once sort of raced across the north Atlantic, but left New York at different times, chasing the outright fully crewed west to east record. But the Rolex Fastnet Race was the first time that the pair of three hulled giants has lined up in proper yacht race. It should be pointed out that both crews are relatively new to their boats having only recently acquired them from their previous owners. And neither crew had much chance to train on them before this race – Spindrift having been tied up MOD70 racing (and capsizing) in the Route des Princes and le Cleac’h focussing on his Solitaire du Figaro campaign with Banque Populaire. Very impressive in this race was that despite a huge length disparity, three boats in the multihull fleet led on the water, with Spindrift port tacking the fleet off the line on Sunday (40m long trimarans are useful bits of kit for achieving this), but with the MOD70 (half her size) Oman Air-Musandam ahead after she was the first to tack north, being one of the minority to slip north between the Longships exclusion zone (TSS) and Land’s End. Then on the beat across the Celtic Sea she was in turn overhauled by the 31.5m long Banque Populaire. According to Yann Guichard, they made a mistake in splitting with the other boats just before the TSS. “We just waited five minutes too long before tacking [north] and then there was the TSS, so we had to continue and after the wind did a big left,