While the previous Rolex Fastnet Race is remembered for the course record time being demolished, the only record broken in this year's running of the Royal Ocean Racing Club's biennial 608 nautical-mile classic was one relating to competitor patience, as light winds at the start and end, combined with powerful spring tides, made for a 'tactically challenging' race, and one of the longest in recent years.
Running from Cowes to Plymouth via the Fastnet Rock off southwest Ireland, the race again proved it remains one of the world's most prestigious offshore yacht races. The 300-boat entry limit was reached quickly, attracting boats from a wide spread of nations. The bulk came from the UK and France, but there were potent entries from the USA, Hong Kong, Ireland, Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands and others coming from afar afield as Chile and Australia.
This year's event also attracted a hugely competitive line-up of professional sailors and grand prix race boats from around the world. This included the 2007 race record setter, Mike Slade's 100ft supermaxi ICAP Leopard; two recently launched state of the art Mini-Maxis taking a break from the Med circuit: Niklas Zennstrom's Judel-Vrolijk 72, Ran 2, and Patrizio Bertelli's STP 65 Luna Rossa, crewed by his Italian America's Cup team and featuring an all-star cast including five time Olympic medallist and recent Volvo Ocean Race winner, Torben Grael. The Rolex Fastnet Race was also the offshore debut for Karl Kwok's brand new Farr 80, Beau Geste, run by America's Cup helmsman Gavin Brady, while Roger Sturgeon's race-proven Rolex Sydney Hobart-winning STP65 Rosebud/Team DYT had come across from the USA.