The overall 2021 Rolex Fastnet Race winner is Thomas Kneen’s JPK 1180 Sunrise, who takes the IRC overall trophy.
Congratulations to our CFD engineer, Angus Gray-Stephens,
who crewed onboard Sunrise for the Fastnet 2021.
As a keen sailor, Angus has plenty of first-hand experience racing performance sailing yachts, taking part in both inshore and offshore events.
This year was his third Fastnet, in which he has beaten his previous best result of 2nd in class and 8th overall.
Tom Kneen’s JPK 11.80 Sunrise has sewn up IRC Two in this 49th Rolex Fastnet Race. The Devonshire team crossed the Cherbourg finish line at 1004 BST this morning. Sunrise’s corrected time of 4 days, 6 hours, 45 minutes 4 seconds has given Kneen IRC Two victory by a huge margin. As Sunrise finished, her closest rival was just past the Lizard with more than 120 nautical miles still to sail.
After a hideous outbound beat down the Channel, when they never seemed to be in phase with the tide, Sunrise’s first break came after making the last minute call to go up the eastern side of the traffic separation scheme at Land’s End with Il Corvo as the majority of the frontrunners chose to go up the TSS’s west side.
Rounding the Fastnet Rock on Tuesday mid-evening, Sunrise already had pulled out a 1 hour 12 minute lead under corrected time.
But the key moment of her race came as, while she was forging past the Lizard, the wind utterly switched off for those astern as an area of high pressure rolled over them.
“There was a big ridge chasing us at 10 knots, so we just had to go faster than 10 knots the whole way down there,” explained Dave Swete, Sunrise’s sole pro sailor. “It never caught us, but it caught the rest of the guys which I think went down to our fighting hard at the start and when we were fighting current for the first half of the race.”
A jubilant Kneen shared his take on this:
“The key moment was at the Scilly Isles when we were trying to hold on to the original wind to get us safely into the Channel. All of our weather routing said we’d be stuck in the light pressure, and we had chosen the sails that we believed we needed to deal with that.”
From there, the crew kept their fingers crossed, while looking over their shoulders. As they arrived in Cherbourg having straight-lined it from the Scilly Isles, their competitors were still on a very different part of the chart.
“We feel very fortunate to have made it here, arriving at a good time for the strong tides just before the finish,” said Kneen. “But there really was no relaxing until we actually crossed the finish line. Nothing is ever certain in this game.”
Scilly Isles park-up
Meanwhile the rest of IRC Two over the course of the early hours this morning compressed into a tight bunch to the west and south of the Scilly Isles as they parked up, unable to break free of the clutches of the ridge. Their restart only occurred at around 0600 this morning. This afternoon they were well on their way to the western side of the Casquets TSS.
A massive 17 hours off the lead is Scarlet Oyster, Ross Applebey’s Lightwave 48, followed by a group that includes the JPK 10.80s Richard Fromentin’s JPK 11.80 Leclerc Hennebont/Cocody and Dutchwoman Astrid de Vin’s Il Corvo, plus Swede Olof Granander’s First 40.7 Embla and Eric Fries’ Fastwave 6 from France. Of this group Fastwave 6 was the only one brave enough to attempt to extract themselves from the ridge by sailing south of the TSS to the south of the Scilly Isles with limited success. Based on current progress, this group is expected to finish on Friday morning.
The Scilly Isles parking lot also had a devastating effect on IRC Three. The lead trio coming into it – Louis-Marie Dussere’s JPK 10.80 Raging-bee²; Alexis Loison and Guillaume Pirouelle’s JPK 10.30 Léon, followed by Philippe Girardin’s J/120 Hey Jude – rounded the east side of the TSS to the west of the Scilly Isles only to hit the meteological brick wall mid-evening yesterday.
The Sun Fast 3600 Fujitsu British Soldier faired worse rounding the west side of the TSS, and landed themselves in the embrace of the high earlier.