As we arrive at the 3-day mark of this year’s Rolex Fastnet Race the handicap leaderboard is completely changed.
Gone from the top handful are the two Polish boats (now 12th & 22nd ) as many of the smaller and slower boats round The Rock and start heading downwind, or as they transit the Western Approaches, on a reach-in decent breeze their VMG naturally climbs as they head towards the final turning point of the Bishop’s Rock – that part of the course being unaltered from the traditional one.
Skorpios has also disappeared and doubly so. She rockets down from 1st overall earlier in the race to (currently) 29th oops – grabbed a bite to eat – now 32nd – (a few hours ago she was 18th). And is currently mid-Channel heading back towards the Solent. (Perhaps they dropped the owner off for the prizegiving?)
High water, Cherbourg is about now and, according to the tracker, the Channel ebb tide is showing as really flowing westward which will slow the approach towards the French Coast of many of the boats over the next few hours.
As a further complication, the wind does appear to be softening as the boats get closer to the finish with a light wind area around a weak system pushing up from the south while some of the slower/smaller boats may yet benefit from a low-pressure system out in the Atlantic, depending on how quickly it advances east.
Currently, 8 hours corrected covers the top 10 but the order is most likely to change in the coming hours as only 3 boats of the first 100 on the estimated IRC leaderboard, Skorpios, Rambler 88 & I Love Poland have actually finished so far so still a lot to play for.
And who said Offshore Racing was uncomplicated?