WHILE it was a Plymouth sailor who won the overall prize, the Island was well represented at the 49th Rolex Fastnet Race.

Known as the world’s largest offshore yacht race, the 96-year-old offshore racing classic lived up to its fame, with a fleet of 337 boats from 24 different countries competing for glory.

Among them was more than 30 competitors from the IW, and this year, for the first time in the history of the race, the finish was in Cherbourg, France.

Of the IW sailors competing, David Collins’ Botin IRC 52, Tala,­ secured a great victory in his class, competing against some of the largest boats in the race under IRC Zero, plus previous line honours winner, Rambler.

Robbie Southwell, 26, from Cowes, was on board Tala alongside Brett Aarons, and finished eighth overall.

The TP52 finished third in 2019 but Robbie said the conditions favoured smaller boat this year.

He said: “We were in a class with Skorpios, the biggest boat in the fleet, and Rambler.”

David Collins said: “The first bit was very tough, but this boat has seen some big weather before.

"The waves were short and steep, but the crew looked after the boat well.

"We were double-reefed at times because we were hitting the waves hard. Then the next part of the race was fascinating ­— tactically very challenging.”

This is where Tala’s navigator, Campbell Field, earned his keep.

“Campbell made some great calls," said David.

"Working out how to get past this last TSS zone for example, finding some counterintuitive moves that really worked well for us.”

Cowes-based Shirley Robertson on the other hand, racing two handed on Sun Fast 3300 with Henry Bomby, took second in the Two-Handed class ­— just missing out on a pole position.

Only around 17 minutes separated first and second at the finish, but it was a fantastic achievement with more than 60 boats in the class ­— the biggest ever.

Regretfully, Gurnard’s Kelvin Rawlings and partner Stuart Childerley ­— winners in 2015 ­— did not start the race on their Sun Fast 3300 Aries.

Jeremy Waitt, meanwhile, who finished 44th overall on board Jangada with owner Richard Palmer, said they got caught in light winds around the Scilly Isles.

“We decided to consolidate our position as the boat ships to Malta in two weeks from the Middle Sea Race in October," said Jeremy.

“This will probably be our final attempt at the overall double handed trophy.”

Jeremy said they finished tenth in the double handed class in the Fastnet and 18th in IRC 4 class.

Yarmouth sailor, Sam White, was on Mzungu, which finished fourth in both IRC4 and in double handed class.

Brian Thompson, based in East Cowes ­— the world’s fastest sailor with speed record on Sailrocket ­— was on the mighty MOD70 Argo, competing in the MOCRA class in just over two days and four hours on the trimaran.