Fonica, which set a new record for sailing around the Isle of Wight in the Artemis Challenge at Cowes Week 2012. Picture by Jennifer Burton.
A NEW round the Isle of Wight sailing record was set this afternoon (Thursday).
The trimaran, Foncia, had a stunning day on the water, not only winning line honours in the Artemis Challenge but smashing the round the Island record, finishing in two hours, 21 minutes and 25 seconds – shaving an impressive 12 minutes off the pace set by Steve Fossett onboard Playstation in 2001.
Skipper, Michel Desjoyeaux, said: "The weather was sunny and also we had nice conditions with lots of wind all the way along.
"We had a few tacks to go to the Needles, which slowed us up, and Oman Sail were faster upwind, they tacked in front of us, but they missed their last tack so we were able to overtake, pick up speed and finish first.
"It's the first time I have raced around the Isle of Wight, the first but a good one!"
Mike Golding and his team onboard Gamesa won the Artemis Challenge for a second time, winning a charity prize fund of £12,000 to be shared between Save the Children and Institut Curie.
With two IMOCA 60s and two MOD 70s entered in this sixth edition of the race, the teams were paired up, drawn at random by Olympic Silver Medallist Nick Dempsey.
Gamesa joined forces with legendary French sailor and two times winner of the Vendée Globe, Michel Desjoyeaux skippering his MOD 70, Foncia, while Artemis Ocean Racing II, jointly skippered by Nick Dempsey and Lucy MacGregor, was drawn with Oman Sail Musandam, led by Sidney Gavignet.
Olympic Silver Medallist Zara Phillips fired the start gun at 10am.
Golding said: "The conditions were testing, with a moderate 20 plus knot breeze at times and it was very gusty and slightly shifty, so all the trimmers had to be on their toes.
"It was hard work for the guys as a race. Thankfully it was quite mild as everyone got very wet at the back of the Island.
"Artemis put on a strong fight, and we swapped the lead several times: they had us a bit worried at times! But by the end, we had a couple of minutes lead, which is all we needed to ensure we had a team win.
"It was great to have the Team GB Match Race girls, Annie Lush and Kate MacGregor onboard – they were great, trimming the spinnakers and calling the breeze.
"They have had so much pressure on them from the Olympics, so hopefully today we gave them a bit of a rest and not have too much responsibility on their shoulders!"