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The lure of the Fastnet Rock as captured by Rolex/Daniel Forster in the Rolex Fastnet Race

It's a Record! Exceptional take up for 47th Rolex Fastnet Race

Entry into the Royal Ocean Racing Club’s flagship event, the Rolex Fastnet Race surpassed expectation today in record-breaking time. The 340-boat limit was reached in just 4 minutes and 24 seconds setting a new record.

Within the first minute of the REMUS online entry system opening at midday today (Monday 9 January), the London and Cowes-based organising club had received a massive 222 entries. The frenetic trend continued for the next hour and into the afternoon, with entries streaming in from all around the world. Within an hour, nearly 400 boats had signed up for the biennial 603-nautical miler, which has been an established fixture on the ocean racing circuit since 1925.

Nick Elliott, RORC Racing explains his reaction to the phenomenal demand to enter this historic race:

“The take-up of entries for the 2017 Rolex Fastnet Race has been incredible. We expected to better the time it took to reach the limit in the last race of 24 minutes, but this is amazing. It just exemplifies how sought after the places in the race are and confirms that it is a real sporting institution; one which every sailor wants to tick off their personal ‘bucket list’.

“Seven boats raced in the first race in 1925 and the founding members of the RORC and its flagship event would have been in awe of their creation with 340 boats signing up so quickly today. With all this interest, we expect a record-sized fleet to start from the Royal Yacht Squadron line, making the Rolex Fastnet Race by far the largest of the world’s classic 600-mile offshore races, in terms of participation. One not to be missed,” continues Elliott.

The First 40, Lancelot II was the first boat to enter the race, signing up just 12 seconds after the online entry system opened. The next four boats entered shortly after: Arthur Logic, Pelgrim, Jolly Jack Tar and Moana. Entries from 28 different nations have signed up and include; Great Britain, France (who have dominated the event in the recent years), Netherlands, Germany and USA, with an entry from Korea as well as from Australia and New Zealand. The race has attracted the usual diverse fleet of yachts, from beautiful classics to some of the world’s fastest racing machines – and everything in between, racing in IRC or selected offshore classes such as IMOCA60, VOR65, Class40 and MOCRA Multihull.

The 47th edition of the Rolex Fastnet Race organised by the Royal Ocean Racing Club will start in the Solent from Cowes, Isle of Wight, on Sunday 6th August, finishing in Plymouth via the Fastnet Rock, the symbol of the race, located off the southern coast of Ireland.


100 foot limit relaxed for 2017 Rolex Fastnet Race

The Royal Ocean Racing Club, organisers of the Rolex Fastnet Race starting on Sunday 6th August 2017, has relaxed the limit of a maximum monohull length of 100ft (30.48m).

The biennial event is the world’s biggest offshore race and the last edition attracted a record-sized fleet of 356 starters. The 47th race is expected to be no different, with a diverse fleet of yachts from around the world eager to secure a spot when the online entry system opens at midday (UTC) on 9th January 2017. Such is the draw of this classic 600-mile race, it was oversubscribed in under 24 minutes last time round!

Following interest from a number of superyacht owners and skippers wishing to take part in this classic offshore race, the RORC Race Committee has elected to lift the 100ft monohull limit opening the race up to the new breed of fast and agile cruiser/racer designs such as Peter Harrison’s beautiful Farr designed ketch Sojana, the new Swan 115’s and Baltic 115’s, to name but a few. These yachts are regularly seen on the superyacht race circuit and have always been eligible to race in another RORC classic 600-miler, the annual RORC Caribbean 600 from Antigua.

In the last Rolex Fastnet Race there were two monohulls at this upper limit of 100ft: Mike Slade's British Farr 100, Leopard who was competing in his 5th consecutive race and from the United States Jim and Kristy Hinze Clark’s Maxi, Comanche. The 100ft Comanche was the fastest monohull finisher in 2015, but narrowly missed the chance to break Ian Walker’s VO70’s 2011 monohull race record of 42 hours 39 minutes.

Video: Rolex - Spirit of Yachting

Video: Rolex - Spirit of Yachting

The 46th edition of the biennial Rolex Fastnet Race marked the bicentenary anniversary of the Royal Yacht Squadron, as well as 90 years since the Royal Ocean Racing Club was founded, following the Fastnet's first edition, in 1925. A record 356 yachts raced from Cowes to the Fastnet Rock, and back to Plymouth. Victory went to Géry Trentesaux's 35-foot Courrier du Leon. Rolex partners both yacht clubs, and the race, which it has supported since 2001.

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Video: Rolex Fastnet Race 2015 – Highlights

Video: Rolex Fastnet Race 2015 – Highlights

The Rolex Fastnet Race, organized by the Royal Ocean Racing Club, celebrated its 90th anniversary in 2015, with the 46th edition of this biennial 603-nautical mile offshore classic proving both intriguing and dramatic. A record fleet of 356 yachts from 25 countries competed, a clear demonstration of the event’s enduring appeal. Light conditions characterised the early part of the race, impacting the start from Cowes and the larger yachts chasing record times. Multihull line honours was claimed by the 131-ft Swiss trimaran Spindrift 2 while the 100-ft Maxi Comanche from the United States was the fastest monohull finisher prevailing ahead of fellow American yacht Rambler by a mere 4 minutes. In the latter part of the race the fleet’s smaller, predominantly Corinthian-crewed yachts, benefitted from an upturn in breeze rounding the emblematic Fastnet rock in more classic conditions. Claiming overall victory on IRC handicap was the 35-ft French yacht Courrier du Leon, whose magnificent exploits on the water were rewarded with the Fastnet Challenge Trophy and a Rolex timepiece at the final prizegiving held in Plymouth.

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Winner of the 90th anniversary Rolex Fastnet Race, Géry Trentesaux and crew of Courrier Du Leon - Photo RORC/ELWJ Photography

France Dominates 90th Anniversary Rolex Fastnet Race

Winner of the 90th anniversary Rolex Fastnet Race, Géry Trentesaux and crew of Courrier Du Leon - Photo RORC/ELWJ Photography

The Rolex Fastnet Race, the event that caused the formation of the Royal Ocean Racing Club, celebrated its 90th birthday in 2015.

How the founding fathers of the club and its flagship event would have been in awe of their creation with 300 boats signing up within just 24 minutes of the entry list opening in January, a record-sized fleet of 356 boats starting from the Royal Yacht Squadron line making the Rolex Fastnet Race by far the largest of the world’s classic 600 mile offshore races, in terms of participation.

It attracts top teams from around the world with boats ranging from Spindrift 2 and Comanche - the world’s fastest offshore racing multihull and monohull respectively - down to Contessa and Dehler 32 cruiser racers with every conceivable flavour of offshore racing yacht in between.

The upper echelons in the fleet are packed with America’s Cup and Volvo Ocean Race winners plus Olympic and World champions, while the bulk of entries are Corinthian with sailing school and family crews for whom the biennial race from Cowes to Plymouth via the Fastnet Rock off southwest Ireland represents the pinnacle of their sailing season, if not their careers.

From some way out, the forecast for this year’s race was extremely light. In the event, the nine fastest boats made it around in reasonable order before high pressure over the Celtic Sea saw the wind disappear from the race track for 36 hours. This caused multiple park-ups, huge compression in the fleet and several attempts at deep water kedging. These conditions affected all but the smallest in the giant fleet, and continued until Wednesday when the more usual frontal systems resumed rolling through, providing a fast finish especially for the mid-fleet.

True to the forecast, among the multiple starts, that occurred at intervals from 1200-1340 BST on Sunday 16th August, those leaving earliest, including the nimble multihulls, struggled to cross the start line against the last of the flood tide. And when the tide did turn favourable, it proved disastrous for boats that were over early, taking them more than half an hour to turn around and claw their way back to the line to restart successfully.

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Alkaid III - skipper and crew with the trophy for winning IRC 4 Overall. Photo: RORC/ELWJ Photography

Eras collide in IRC 4

While, thanks to the ultra-light forecast, pre-start expectations had the Rolex Fastnet Race tailenders arriving sometime in week two, in fact on the morning of day seven of the Royal Ocean Racing Club’s 90th anniversary event, just five boats remain at sea. Bringing up the rear, Martin Lossie’s Dehler 32 Picolini was expected to reach Plymouth late this afternoon.

Winner in the Rolex Fastnet Race’s smallest class, IRC 4 was inevitably French, but on this occasion French boats managed to secure only 50% of the top 10 places in this 37 boat class.

For Gerard Quenot and crew, this was the second occasion he had campaigned his JPK 10.10 Alkaid III – in the Rolex Fastnet Race, finishing fourth in class in 2013.

“We are very happy to win in IRC 4,” said Quenot. “It was very nice with light conditions for the first two days and then the breeze came at the Scillies. The best part for us was between the Scillies and the Fastnet because it was reaching and we got to use our magic sail – the A5.”

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Video: Rolex Fastnet Race 2015 – A worthy winner - 21 August

Video: A worthy winner - 21 August

A memorable edition of the Rolex Fastnet Race concluded on 21 August. Géry Trentesaux’s JPK 10.80 Courrier du Léon from France has been confirmed as overall winner of the race on IRC handicap prevailing from a record-breaking fleet of 356 international yachts. As winner of the race Trentesaux and his crew received the Rolex Fastnet Challenge Trophy and a coveted Rolex timepiece at the final prizegiving in Plymouth. The 90th anniversary edition of this famous offshore classic will be long remembered for its tactical challenges, the diverse conditions experienced and the quality of the competing yachts and sailors.

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Gery Trentesaux and his JPK 10.80, Courrier Du Leon, the Overall Winner of the Rolex Fastnet Race 2015. Photo: Rolex/Kurt Arrigo

Lucky 13th for Géry Trentesaux

Géry Trentesaux and his JPK 10.80 Courrier Du Leon have been confirmed by the Royal Ocean Racing Club as winner of the 2015 Rolex Fastnet Race. For this the team will receive the Fastnet Challenge Trophy at tonight’s prizegiving, an event doubling as the 90th anniversary celebrations of the RORC’s flagship offshore race.

In this, the Frenchman’s 13th attempt at the Rolex Fastnet Race since his first in 1977, Trentesaux’s performance was exceptional, beating Arnaud Delamare and Eric Mordret’s second placed JPK 10.80 sistership, Dream Pearls, by 2 hours 20 minutes. And this was despite being over early at the windless start and taking 40 minutes to restart.

Courrier Du Leon was competing in IRC 3, but managed to beat all of IRC 2 on the water into Plymouth.

Personally Trentesaux is an offshore racing stalwart, who led a French team to victory in the 2006 Commodores’ Cup and was part of France’s winning Admirals’ Cup team in 1991. But he is versatile – he raced singlehanded offshore in the 2006 Route du Rhum and regularly competes inshore in one designs – he currently owns a J/80 and a Diam 24 trimaran.

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Jester, Stuart Childerly and Kelvin Rawling's J/105. Photo: Rolex/Daniel Forster

Triumphant Jester

54 teams entered the 2015 Rolex Fastnet Race racing in the IRC Two-Handed Class from Belgium, France, Great Britain, Holland, Ireland, Monaco and the United States of America and the winner, after over four days and nights of racing, was decided by just 23 seconds, with the top 18 yachts just 5% apart after time correction.

For most of the two handed competitors, food will have been simply fuel, and sleep will have been the ultimate luxury. Racing two handed for 603 nautical miles non-stop, spending most of the time alone on deck is tough. To perform well requires an all-round ability where both crew need to be able to accomplish any task on board. This year's Rolex Fastnet Race proved to be a long hard marathon for the 108 sailors racing in the Two-Handed Class.

The fastest yachts have taken over four days and nights to complete the course and some of the slower yachts are still out there battling against the weather and their fatigue. Tenacity, patience and a will of iron, coupled with expert seamanship and racing prowess is what’s required to take on the Rolex Fastnet Race two handed. Make no mistake, it is an extraordinary challenge.

The 2013 overall winner of the Rolex Fastnet Race was Pascal and Alexis Loison's JPK 10.10 Night and Day, the first ever two handed overall victory in the 90 year history of the race. Night and Day was back this year to defend their title. During the race the father and son team were very much in the running for the Two-Handed Class, even the dream of the overall win. However, the French champions were defeated by the narrowest of margins by a rookie British team.

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Gonzalo Botin's Class40, class winner in the 2015 Rolex Fastnet Race. Photo: Rolex/Kurt Arrigo

Tales from the high seas

Gonzalo Botin, campaigning Tales II, a design by his brother Marcellino, returned to the Rolex Fastnet Race and succeeded in making reparations after finishing second Class40 in 2013.

This year’s race was no less intense for the Spanish team, who’s crew was the same as it was two years ago, including round the world sailor Antonio Piris and America’s Cup navigator Nacho Postigo.

The Class40s were once again the biggest of the non-IRC classes with 22 boats entered, the whole fleet peppered with talent and big names.

Cabinet Z of France’s Cedric De Kervenoael led the boats away from the Isle of Wight and pretty much all of the Class40s struggled to make it along the north side of the mid-Channel Casquets Traffic Separation Scheme. Some had to sail backwards to avoid being dragged into it by the tide and this immediately split the fleet in two.

After passing the Casquets it was the radical Forty(1)Design Concise 8 that pulled ahead, Tony Lawson’s boat on this occasion being skippered by young gun Jack Trigger.

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Sam Matson and Gonzalo Infante on their class winning Figaro II - Chatham Marine. Photo: ELWJ Photography

Figaro class honours for Chatham Marine and Sam Matson

Five boats competed this year in the Rolex Fastnet Race’s Figaro class, all sailed by crews that originated from the Artemis Offshore Academy. The AOA seeks to develop shorthanded professional offshore racing sailors in the UK via the Figaro class, in the hope that one day one of them will go on to go one better than Ellen Macarthur did in 2000-1 and do what to date no non-French sailor has done, and win outright the Vendée Globe, the singlehanded non-stop race around the world.  

The Beneteau-built Figaro 32ft one designs are very evenly matched and typically race in a pack so it was with some surprise that in this year’s race there was such a stand-out winner.

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