An exceptional example of an extraordinary boat paired up with a hugely talented crew has been the combination of Apivia with doublehanders Charlie Dalin and Paul Meilhat competing in this 49th Rolex Fastnet Race.
They arrived in Cherbourg early this morning scoring a resounding win in the 13-strong IMOCA fleet. This came as some small vindication after Dalin suffered victory slipping through his fingers in this year’s Vendée Globe after he was first home only to lose the top prize when Yannick Bestaven and Maître CoQ were awarded a time compensation.
Dalin, an anglophile having studied at Southampton University, enjoyed the Rolex Fastnet Race start, seeing old friends as his IMOCA milled around the Solent before the start. Once the gun had gone on Sunday, the foil-born Apivia leapt into action, and compared to her other 60ft IMOCA rivals looked like an 80 footer. Part of this was down to development work since the solo round the world race: “We have new foils and some new sails. You have to keep these boats evolving to stay at the top of your game,” Dalin explained. Passing the Needles, sailing upwind so fast they were flying, Apivia had already pulled out a two mile lead in the IMOCA class.
While the Ultimes led the charge south across the Channel, Apivia led the IMOCAs but went even further towards France before tacking. This was because, uniquely, they managed to link up a series of benefits – positive tide at the Alderney Race, then a wind shift and then more positive tide off Brehat. “There was a very small window to get the combination exactly right. Our timing was perfect,” said Dalin. Their tack north was timed so that not only did they lay the west side of the TSS at Land’s End, but could stay on course to lay the Fastnet Rock.