Mean Machine leaves competition behind

PETER De Ridder's Mean Machine charged over the North Sea Race finishing line to make a new record crossing time of just 11 hours and 3 minutes. The vessel smashed the previous record, set by Piet Vroon's Formidable in 2006, by more than eight hours, taking line honours and overall victory in the race.

PETER De Ridder's Mean Machine charged over the North Sea Race finishing line to make a new record crossing time of just 11 hours and 3 minutes.

The vessel smashed the previous record, set by Piet Vroon's Formidable in 2006, by more than eight hours, taking line honours and overall victory in the race.

Formidable 3, a Lutra 56, took a convincing second place, closely followed by Pleomax and Roark.

The annual race, which began on Friday in brilliant sunshine and a building south westerly wind, travels the 180 miles from Harwich across the North Sea, via Corks Sands Yacht Beacon, and Smith's Knoll LV off Norfolk, to the finish line in Scheveningen, Holland.

The 70-strong fleet of mostly Dutch and English yachts, sped over the North Sea in wild and windy conditions, with up to 30 knots of wind reported by some competitors.

In the wake of the trailblazing Mean Machine, formerly Pirates of the Caribbean, a contender in the last Volvo Ocean Race, five further boats beat the 2006 record. Formidable 3, Pleomax, Eclectic, Checkmate and Roark all finished under 19 hours 15 minutes.

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Of the 40 boats to complete the race, local yachtsman Richard Fawcett finished an impressive 34th with his Beneteau First 325, Valencia.

The North Sea Race is part of the ABN North Sea Regatta. Each year, competitors arrive on the east coast early in the week, to enjoy the hospitality of the Royal Harwich Yacht Club in Woolverstone.

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