Peyron wins in record time

A DOUBLE new record for multihulls in the Fastnet Race was set by the French skipper Loick Peyron in the 60-foot trimaran Fujicolor yesterday. He completed the 610-mile course from Cowes, round the rock on the south- west tip of Ireland and back to the breakwater at Plymouth, in 40 hours 27 minutes, 41 minutes ahead of his fellow- Frenchman Alain Gautier in another 60ft tri, Broceliande II.

Peyron's time set the definitive record for the same course raced by all the monohull classes, and beat by over three and a half hours the time set in 1997 by Laurent Bourgnon's Primagaz over a course with a dog-leg to Cherbourg which totalled 620 miles.

About eight hours behind, Ellen MacArthur, with Bourgnon and brother Yvan on the renamed Kingfisher, could only watch in frustration after an earlier becalming. She was due to arrive late last night with the first maxis not far behind.

The one designs in the Adecco World Championship were being led by New Zealand's Ross Field, and this group was ahead of the other four maxis. Jim Dolan's Sagamore was less than two minutes ahead of George Coumantaros' Boomerang, another 12 minutes ahead of Alberto Roemmers' Alexia and an hour ahead of Ted Turner and Larry Ellison on Sayonara.

After some lulls in the wind overnight, the watchers in the lighthouse had a busy breakfast as the leading 60s, both Whitbread and Open, also made the turn for home. The German team illbruck, with John Kostecki continuing the relentless build-up for the 2001 Volvo Ocean Race, had a handy hour over the Belgian syndicate Yess, with Grant Dalton as guest skipper on his old boat. Well ahead in the Open 60s was France's Catherine Chabaud, with Mike Golding's Group 4 two hours behind.

The rest of the 215 starters were spread from Land's End across the Celtic Sea and will be finishing up to Thursday. Peyron and Gautier, who had Isabelle Autissier among the crew, were planning to be back in France for dinner last night.

Peyron was jubilant after what at times had been an exhilarating run. His 1990, Nigel Irens-designed tri has won every major event it has contested this season, two grands prix, a Europe race and now the Fastnet. "So it's been a good first half to the season," he said.

However, Peyron had to push hard at times to beat Gautier and had been helped by Broceliande having to lower its mainsail on the way to the rock to mend, with aluminium tube, two broken battens.

Peyron was three minutes behind at Fastnet ad decided to "push all the panic buttons. The speedometer needle was so far round it was in the glovebox," he said.

The tri reached speeds of 28 to 30 knots in winds gusting up to 35 knots and contributed to a race average of just over 15 knots.