The Maxi Edmond de Rothschild leads the sprint into Cherbourg
The first group to set sail from the Royal Yacht Squadron in Cowes shortly after 11:00 UTC yesterday, the Maxi Edmond de Rothschild and the fleet of multihulls are leading the way in this 49th edition of the Rolex Fastnet Race. The particularly boisterous conditions of the start 25 to 30 knots of headwind have gradually given way to a more moderate breeze and a downwind leg since rounding the Fastnet. That said, Franck Cammas and Charles Caudrelier’s have managed to lengthen their stride and are devouring the miles at top speed. With a lead of nearly 100 miles over their pursuers, the sailors of Gitana Team are leading the chase towards the finish line, off Cherbourg-en-Cotentin, which they’re expected to reach this evening.
An undisputed lead

Snatching the reins from the opening miles, even before exiting the Solent, the men on the five-arrow giant have managed to hold onto their lead the whole way. Particularly speedy upwind having sailed some truly inspired trajectories, they quickly stole a march on Sodebo and Actual Leader and were going it alone to the Scilly Isles and then the south coast of Ireland. Once there, they were the first to hang a left this morning, leaving the legendary Fastnet lighthouse in Gitana 17’s wake shortly before 08:00 UTC with a comfortable 40-mile cushion ahead of their closest rival. As soon as they rounded the rock, they hoisted the large J0 (gennaker) for the return leg to Cherbourg. Once powered up on a downwind point of sail, the Maxi Edmond de Rothschild’s speeds quickly picked up to 30 knots, enabling the crew to double their lead.   

The wind is set to gradually ease across the race zone and notably on the approach to the Cotentin peninsula, which could slow the progress of the crew on the Maxi Edmond de Rothschild in the closing miles of the race. However, the latest ETAs (estimated time of arrival) are predicting a finish at around 20:00 UTC.   

Interview with Charles Caudrelier, one of the skippers of the Maxi Edmond de Rothschild, this morning, on rounding the legendary Fastnet lighthouse off southern Ireland. It was 07:55 local time. 

Yann Riou: Hello Charles! Aboard the Maxi Edmond de Rothschild we’ve just rounded the Fastnet Rock?

Charles Caudrelier:Yes, we rounded the Fastnet Rock a few minutes ago, at the head of the fleet, with a lead of at least 46 miles over the second boat, which is pretty good. We’re very happy. We’ve sailed very well since the start and we’re very proud with what we’ve done. The boat is quick and I don’t think we’ve made too many mistakes with the navigation and now we’re setting a course for the Scillies. The race is far from over with 300 miles still to go and light downwind conditions forecast. There aren’t any major options, but there may be some decisions to be made around the Scillies. With regards to the finish, there will be some gybing on the cards, which could complicate matters. We know that Cherbourg’s a complicated place to sail, especially in a light wind with some current. We’ll have to stay focused on the boat speed, whilst trying to increase our lead so we’ll just have to wait and see what happens.” 

YR: In terms of life aboard for the crew, this return leg to Cherbourg is shaping up to be easier than the climb up to the Fastnet, isn’t it?

CC: Yes, it’ll be easier and more comfortable. I think we’ll be able to sleep and we won’t be too tired. It’s a straight line run from the Scillies, with the potential for a few gybes around the latter archipelago and then the finish line, from around 40 miles out.”   

The crew of the Maxi Edmond de Rothschild 

Franck Cammas and Charles Caudrelier, skippers 

David Boileau, Erwan Israël, Morgan Lagravière, Yann Riou   

Ultime ranking Rolex Fastnet Race – Monday 9 August at 16:00 UTC 

1. Maxi Edmond de Rothschild 121 miles from the finish

2. Sodebo 95 miles behind the leader

3. Actual Leader 116 miles behind the leader 

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