RAN took the honours again in a dramatic Rolex Fastnet Race.
The Hamble-based Judel Vrolijk 72, campaigned by Skype co-founder Niklas Zennström, won the race for the second consecutive time.
And the striking dark-hulled yacht crossed the finish line off Plymouth, early on Tuesday afternoon, in a time of two days three minutes and 44 seconds.
Although there are still dozens of boats still to finish the 608-mile offshore classic, none can overtake the expertly sailed Ran on handicap time.
The win was in part made possible by the strong winds, which had powered the leading boats, including Ran, to the Fastnet Rock and back, dying off later in the week.
There was also the misfortune which overtook some of her immediate competitors.
The 100-foot supermaxi Rambler 100 lost its keel and capsized after rounding the rock.
‘It was a good race in that we had good boat speed all the time,’ said Zennström.
‘The worst thing with offshore races is that you sail into an area with no wind and you sit there.
‘But we didn’t have that this time.
‘In the places where we thought it would be very light, like the transition around Land’s End, we had good pace.
‘But it was tough. Halfway to the Rock, and all the way back there was no visibility, lots of wind and rain – everything was very wet. But if you go fast, that makes up for it. It was great racing and we were doing 20-22 knots of boat speed all the time in big waves.
‘We pushed it pretty hard.’
Other yachts perhaps pushed too hard, with both the 80-foot Hong Kong entry Beau Geste and the 68-foot Alegre having to retire.
According to former America’s Cup helmsman Gavin Brady, Beau Geste was forced to pull out when some cracking developed in her deck, and with conditions set to build around the Fastnet Rock and the onset of night, they chose to err on the side of caution.
Speaking back in the yacht’s base in Gosport, Brady said: ‘We were really surprised, because we were doing 15-16 knots of boat speed side-by-side with the VO70s and everything was business as usual.
‘If it had been a moderate forecast, we might have tried to fix it.
‘It was disappointing, a tough decision to make, because we were in a good position at that point of the race.’
Ran was behind Beau Geste when she retired but took advantage to claim the win.