August 13, 2005 One of the smallest yachts in the fleet, a Nicholson 33, has won the Rolex Fastnet Race on handicap. Jean-Yves Chateau and his six crew sailed Iromiguy across the line at 1224BST this afternoon after more than five days at sea. While there are other yachts still bowling in moderate westerly breezes towards Plymouth, none can better Iromiguy's time. For a race traditionally dominated by big boats, Iromiguy's victory is a dream come true, proof that just occasionally the Corinthian weekend enthusiast can prevail in an unremarkable boat. What is remarkable is that you have to go back 30 years, to 1975, for the last time that a yacht less than 40 feet long won this offshore classic. And the boat that won it then was Golden Delicious, a Nicholson 33, the very same design as Iromiguy.
This is Chateau's fourth Rolex Fastnet Race. In the previous race two years ago, he came second in his class. "I came back this year to try to win my class," said Chateau. "But it is not possible that I could win the whole race. It is unbelievable, a childhood dream." The St Malo skipper was embarrassed about the tired state of his yacht, built in 1976, and which Chateau has owned for over 20 years. "Every year I go to the French boat show and I say I must buy a new boat, but every year I find myself sailing this one." He is unlikely ever to sell her now, as Chateau estimates her resale value at no more than UKP14,000. "The sails would be worth more than the boat," he admitted. In any case, the sentimental value to Chateau after today's victory must make her priceless.
While first appearances give the impression of a ramshackle, rather undermaintained old cruiser, Iromiguy has had money spent on her in the right places. Chateau invested in new sails for this race, and displays ultimate faith in his crew. "New sails are important, and I have a very experienced crew. They have done some very high-level racing - the Tour de France a la Voile and match racing, for example."
Nevertheless, the seven crew of Iromiguy are all amateurs. Chateau is one of two doctors, along with two engineers, a teacher, an administrator and a student. "We are amateur sailors, with a good level of experience, and today with a lot of luck," he admitted modestly. Iromiguy is one of many small yachts to benefit from the late arrival of moderate westerly breezes, after the front third of the fleet drifted all the way around the 608-mile course to Plymouth.
The IRC handicap leaderboard is dominated by the smallest boats in the fleet from Class IRC 3, and also by overseas entries. After Iromiguy comes Cavatina, an Eric Lisson's Granada 38 from Ireland, and in third is Exile, a French X-312 owned by Nicholas de la Fourniere.
For a while it looked as though the 98-foot ICAP Maximus would win the race on IRC handicap, but she still takes home the trophy for line honours and Class Super Zero, where she beat the TP52 Patches by over four hours on handicap. In Class Zero, Robert Boulter's Mills 37, Thunder 2, beat Steven Blom's Grand Soleil 45 Satori by an hour and a half. Roger Dunstan's Prima 38 Bounty Hunter won IRC 1, and the Harry Heijst's Sparkman & Stephens 41 Winsome won IRC 2.
In the IRM division, Nick and Annie Haigh prevailed in the battle of the Farr 40s, with Too Steamy beating the Australian-registered Cacharaza by just over an hour. Frenchman Joel Malardel's Normanni 34, Tancrede won the small multihull division. There were still some doublehanders yet to finish, but at the time of writing, Pascal Loison's J/105, Night and Day, was leading the division.
The Rolex Fastnet Race entails 608 miles of racing from Cowes to Plymouth, via the Fastnet Rock off the southern tip of Ireland. In addition to the two main prizes - the Fastnet Challenge Cup and the Fastnet Rock Trophy, there are more than 30 trophies to be awarded at the conclusion of this year's race. The prizegiving takes place today at 1700 BST at the Royal Citadel, home of 29 Commando Regiment Royal Artillery, in Plymouth.
PROVISIONAL RESULTS (as of 1600, 12 August 2005) Boat Name, Type, Owner
IRC 1st Overall: Iromiguy, Nicholson 33, Jean-Yves Chateau Line Honours: ICAP Maximus, Charles St. Clair & Bill Buckley
IRM 1st Overall: Too Steamy, Farr 40, Nick & Annie Haigh Line Honours: Bear of Britain, Farr 52, Kit Hobday
IRC - Super 0 1) ICAP Maximus, Elliott 30m, EBS Yachting 2) Patches, TP 52, Eamon Conneely 3) Bear of Britain, Farr 52, Kit Hobday
IRC - 0 1) Thunder 2, Mills 37, Robert Boulter 2) Satori, Grand Soleil 45, Steven Blom 3) Moana, First 47.7, Francois Goubau
IRC - 1 1) Bounty Hunter, Prima 38, Roger Dunstan 2) Ster Wenn 5, X 442, Guy Sallenave 3) Puma Logic, Reflex 38, Sailing Logic
IRC - 2 1) Winsome, S & S 41, Harry Heijst 2) Night and Day, J 105, Pascal Loison 3) Groupe Paprec, X 332, Jacques Amedeo
IRC - 3 (subject to fleet finishes) 1) Iromiguy, Nicholson 33, Jean-Yves Chateau 2) Cavatina, Granada 38, Eric Lisson 3) Exile, X 312, Nicholas de la Fourniere
IRM 1) Too Steamy, Farr 40, Nick & Annie Haigh 2) Cacharaza, Farr 40, Marcos Vivian de la Pedrosa 3) Hooligan V, Max Fun 35, Edward Broadway
Multihulls 1) Tancrede, Normanni 34, Joel Malardel 2) Dazzle, Dazcat 12, Michael Butterfield 3) Paradox, Dazcat 10m, Matt Baker
Two-Handed (subject to fleet finishes) 1) Night and Day, J 105, Pascal Loison 2) Sixes and Sevens, Sigma 33, Pip Dwyer/Jon Brockhouse 3) Slingshot, J 105, Shaun Murphy
Open 60 1) Cheminees Poujoulat, Bernard Stamm 2) Virbac-Paprec, Jean-Pierre Dick 3) Sill & Veolia, Roland Jourdain
Full Results can be found at: www.rorc.org