Franck Cammas and Charles Caudrelier – the illustrious French dynamic duo in charge of the Gitana Team Ultim multihull Maxi Edmond de Rothschild – are celebrating today after snatching a last-minute win in the 605-mile Rolex Fastnet Race.
Despite running aground soon after the start in Cowes, England on Saturday and trailing arch-rival Ultim MACIF, skippered by Francois Gabart for the majority of the course – which took the fleet out of the English Channel, across the Irish Sea to the Fastnet Rock off the Irish coast and back to Plymouth via the Scilly Isles – Cammas and Caudrelier’s six-man crew snatched the lead on the very final approach to Plymouth.
“Just after they gybed onto the lay line for the finish, we crossed them and decided to overlay,” Cammas explained. “It was our last chance to see if there was something still possible. But until five minutes before we finished, we never thought it was possible!”
For his part, MACIF skipper Gabart said he knew his crew were going to have their work cut out to protect their lead along the English south coast.
“They were going really fast downwind and even at the Lizard I was thinking it was going to be tough to keep them behind. After the last gybe they were two miles away and we were between them and the finish – so it looked good for us. But they were able to fly while we had a problem with our rake system, and we couldn’t adjust it.”
That meant Cammas and Caudrelier were able to foil into the favoured end of the finish line off Plymouth breakwater, where they crossed 58 seconds before Gabart’s men.
Maxi Edmond de Rothschild’s elapsed time of 1 day 4 hours 2 minutes and 26 seconds, bettered the outright multihull race record, set by Loick Peyron and the crew of Maxi Banque Populaire in the breezy 2011 race by 4 hours 45 minutes and 34 seconds.
Thomas Coville’s brand-new Sodebo Ultim 3 had a disappointing race, finishing one hour and 24 minutes after the leader, having been left behind in a transition zone in the Irish Sea on Saturday evening which allowed the leading pair to escape.