British JPK 1180 Sunrise is Rolex Fastnet Race overall winner

The British JPK 1180 Sunrise is the 2021 Rolex Fastnet Race winner overall, taking the IRC trophy

The overall 2021 Rolex Fastnet Race winner is Thomas Kneen’s JPK 1180 Sunrise, who takes the IRC overall trophy.

Sunrise finished the 695-mile course into Cherbourg today after building a huge lead in the highly competitive IRC 2 class with a corrected finish time of four days and six hours. They finished the race with a two hour advantage over RORC Commodore James Neville’s HH42 Ino XXX. 

Kneen and crew ran a well-planned campaign with the Fastnet as the focus. Their race was characterised by smart, confident navigation, and taking opportunities when they arose, which they built to a 115-mile lead over the rest of Class 2 by the finish.

Owner Thomas Kneen said after finishing that he was delighted with the result – but that the possibility of being the Fastnet winner overall hadn’t really sunk in.

“The reality is that we came with the aim of a class win, I think winning overall is a sort of once in a lifetime dream come true moment. It’s really difficult to kind of get your head around that.

“It’s been a really hard race. Hard because the conditions were tough. And I personally get quite seasick so I was very seasick on the first day. The boat really does well in those big seas and windy conditions. I was the weak link in that to be honest. But the rest of the crew is amazing.”

Fastnet winners: the JPK 1180 Sunrise starting the Rolex Fastnet Race 2021 off Cowes

Navigator Tom Cheney recalled: “We knew we were going out into quite a lot of pressure and we saw low 30 [knots] on the way out. It was quite busy getting out of the Solent as well and ducking boats at 25 knots is quite good fun. But unfortunately, one of our closest rivals was dismasted in the Solent as well, which was a bit shocking to see.

“Then once we were out of the Solent we knew we had to just hold it together for the first day and then make sensible decisions, which I think we did.”

Among the big decisions was how to round The Lizard and Land’s End.

“There was a bit of a decision at the Lizard as to whether you followed what most of the other boats did and turned hard right at the Lizard and went that [starboard] side of the first TSS, which initially we didn’t want to do because the tide was turning against us there. 

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