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News 2015

Jester, Stuart Childerly and Kelvin Rawling's J/105. Photo: Rolex/Daniel Forster 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 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 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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Paradox upon rounding the Fastnet Rock and just before their fastest return trip to Plymouth. Photo: Helena Darvelid/www.sailrocket.com Paradox upon rounding the Fastnet Rock and just before their fastest return trip to Plymouth. Photo: Helena Darvelid/www.sailrocket.com

Trail blazing return journey

At the end of a relatively windless overcast drizzly day in Plymouth, that better resembled November than mid-August,the Royal Ocean Racing Club officers are bracing themselves for a busy night in the Rolex Fastnet Race with around 100 boats this afternoon now past the Lizard and currently speeding towards Plymouth. 

Meanwhile the class winners are firming up. In the MOCRA Multihull class it is neither Spindrift 2 nor the hotshot MOD70s that are likely to come out on top, but Californian Peter Aschenbrenner and his Irens-Cabaret designed 63ft trimaran Paradox that look set to be presented with the Croda Wave Trophy at the Rolex Fastnet Race prizegiving and 90th anniversary celebrations tomorrow night.

“The race was really interesting, with the drifting start and fun sailing up the Solent and mixing it up with Spindrift 2 and the MOD70s,” recounted Aschenbrenner who sailed the race with a crew of six. His boat differs from those he names as although ostensibly she is a racing multihull, Paradox’s interior contains mod cons, such as a cabin, a refrigerator, running water, even a proper head.  

Shortly after exiting the Solent they managed to destroy their Code 0 and stowed it below expecting to relegate it to a skip upon arrival in Plymouth. In fact conditions were such that repairing the sail seemed vital so the aspirant sail makers on board managed to use up their entire sail repair kit - and more – to patch it up. 

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Stormy Weather of Cowes and Dorade round the Fastnet Rock within touching distance of each other. Photo: Rolex/Daniel Forster Stormy Weather of Cowes and Dorade round the Fastnet Rock within touching distance of each other. Photo: Rolex/Daniel Forster

Throwback

Four elegant classic yachts are racing in the 2015 Rolex Fastnet Race. Amongst the high performance carbon fibre flyers, these elegant yachts from days gone by depict the history of the iconic race. In the 2015 Rolex Fastnet Race, Stormy Weather of Cowes led Dorade around the Fastnet Rock by just 27 seconds while Argyll was less than an hour ahead of Infanta.

Matt Brooks' 52ft yawl, Dorade, won the Fastnet Race in 1931 & 1933. Designed in 1929 by Olin Stephens of Sparkman & Stephens and built 1929–1930 by the Minneford Yacht Yard in City Island, New York. Olin Stephens was skipper through 1932 when he handed the boat to his brother, Rod Stephens. Led by Rod, Dorade sailed to victory in the 1932 Bermuda Race. Dorade sailed to Cowes, winning the Fastnet Race. The victory was of substantial significance given the unusually severe weather. Dorade was completely restored in 1997 in Argentario, Italy. Owner Matt Brooks is extremely fastidious with regards to the authentic appearance of Dorade. For example, the aft deck has a modern satellite antenna which is secured to the deck by an antique brass frame and is concealed under a custom leather cover.

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