'What an incredible race and what an amazing event to be a part of,' said MACARTHUR. 'My main goal being here was to help raise money for the Ellen MacArthur Trust, but to win the line honours as well was fantastic.
'It was an exhilarating race for the Extreme 40 crew and we had everything thrown at us. Three-metre high waves and a gusty 12-17 knot winds on the south side of the island were almost too strong for us but the Extreme 40s coped fantastically. They are designed for inshore racing but today we were pretty much offshore and thank goodness everything held together for the team.'
At 05:10 hours the Extreme 40s were off the start line, 10 minutes after the first starters which included ICAP Leopard. JPMorgan Asset Management and ABN AMRO cleared the line ahead of Basilica while Offshore Challenges Sailing Team were suffering from hydraulic problems and were late for the start gun.
With the 55-mile race underway and the 1753-boat fleet heading west out of the Solent towards the west, the four Extreme 40 boats approached the iconic Needles in building wind and lumpy seas. Three of the boats made the call to round the Needles, whilst Basilica who had suffered damage to her boat the day before, turned back, officially retiring from the race.
The three remaining boats pushed on, rounding the western point of the island and tackled the 4-6 foot swells head on. Following a man overboard incident, Offshore Challenges Sailing Team put the pedal to the metal and were the first boat to unfurl their huge gennaker on the downwind section of the course along the south-side of the island. An incredibly close race between the three Extreme 40s ensued with little distance separating the boats as they closed in on ICAP Leopard. Just after the halfway mark of the course off St Catherine's Point, the three Extreme 40s overtook SLADE with JPMorgan Asset Management pulling ahead first with ABN AMRO in tow, positions they held to the finishing line.
As the leaders crossed the line, only a handful of boats had yet to round The Needles at the western end of the Isle of Wight. Later in the day and 10 hours into the race, hundreds of boats were approaching the finish in Cowes as the bulk of the fleet returns through the eastern Solent. Heading for the line, the yachts are having to beat into the south-westerly wind, cross-crossing each other constantly as they tack.