On board are
a number of other legendary kiwi sailors, including
Richard Bouzaid, Tom Dodson and Jeff "Scottie"
Scott, who himself holds the current course record for
the race, which he set in 1999.
During the early stages of Monday it still looked possible
that ICAP Maximus could itself take the record, but
reducing wind strength in the Irish Sea, caused by a
high pressure system, now looks to have put this beyond
reach. However, good crew work and rapid sail changes
to maximise opportunities from the altering wind strength
and direction had put ICAP Maximus well in front at
the half way stage.
Astern they watched the battle develop between Grant
Wharrington's Skandia Wild Thing and the new Volvo 70
Telefonica Movistar, which itself holds the 24 hour
distance record for a monohull. Watch leader and crew
boss George Hendy commented: "At one stage, just
before the start in Cowes, it didn't even look as though
Skandia Wild Thing would be racing. Then at the last
minute they appeared from Southampton Water, crossing
the line well back in our class"
Initially the closest competition came from the Volvo
70 as the fleet made its way down the western Solent
towards The Needles and open water, but ICAP Maximus,
with the yacht's designer Greg Elliott among the crew,
soon saw both their main rivals disappear over the horizon
behind them. By mid afternoon Monday there was no sign
of either boat and ICAP Maximus was alone in the Irish
Sea, heading for the Fastnet Rock.
The 11 hours prior to rounding became agonisingly slow,
with the wind strength dropping throughout Monday afternoon
and through the night. Assessing the weather situation
this morning, Mike Quilter explained to crew member
Graham Sprigg, reporting from on board: "The predicted
high pressure expected in the area has materialised
and in fact has its centre positioned over the Fastnet.
Having now passed the mark, we are now sailing south
in an effort to find some improving wind strength that
will take us back to the finish in Plymouth, which lies
180 miles away."
ICAP Maximus has performed faultlessly throughout the
race, which has been a real test of light airs sailing.
"The design and build of this boat is fabulous"
said Charles St Clair Brown. "The canting keel
gives such stability, we can really optimise sail trim
to suit conditions." Crew spirits on board are
good, with everyone quickly settling into a three watch
system as they concentrate on driving the yacht to its
maximum speed in variable winds.
Photo: Daniel Forster/ Rolex