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Fastnet Race - Simply messing about in boats

There is nothing - absolutely nothing - half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats - Kenneth Grahame.Fastnet fleet at 20:30 hrs Tuesday -

The first monohull arrivals are due into Plymouth tonight with George David's Rambler 88 leading the charge, rounding Bishop Rock, the mandatory mark of the course southwest of the Scilly Isles, at 15:15 BST.

For the VO65s, the Rolex Fastnet Race doubles as 'Leg Zero' of the Volvo Ocean Race and is a non-scoring practice race prior to the main event. However no one seems to have told the crews this.

Since leaving Cowes on Sunday they have been sailing every bit as hard here as they will when their round the world race proper sets sail from Alicante on 22 October.

As to the conditions they were experiencing on the return journey back across the Celtic Sea, Donfeng skipper Charles Caudrelier, who won the Volvo Ocean Race in 2011-12 with Groupama, said:

"It is very, very complicated. Everyone has gone into the corner and the wind is very, very shifty. MAPFRE was far behind us and they caught a big shift and they seem to be ahead now. There are shifts of 20-40° and the same with the wind speed."

"For a long time, we had 10 knots and the others had 15. Now we all have the same wind, around 16-17 knots. You would make a good choice and gain a lot, but then for one hour we had five knots less."

At the time Caudrelier was estimating their arrival at the finish being around 02:00 hrs Wednesday.

Tonight (Tuesday) the bulk of the Rolex Fastnet Race will be progressing across the Celtic Sea to the Fastnet Rock.

The next wave of boats to round the Fastnet Rock will be the twenty seven Class40s where the Franco-Anglo duo of Halvard Mabire and Miranda on board Campagne de France have regained the lead from Britain's Phil Sharp on Imerys.

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